Nov. 4, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - From the two talented cousins to Tha Chosen 1, California's playmakers took turns making life miserable for UCLA.
Marshawn Lynch caught one of Nate Longshore's three touchdown passes and ran for another score as No. 10 Cal won its eighth straight, 38-24 over the Bruins on Saturday night.
Robert Jordan had two touchdown catches and DeSean Jackson romped 72 yards on his school-record fourth TD punt return for the first-place Golden Bears (8-1, 6-0), who moved one big step closer to their first conference title since 1975.
Although UCLA outgained Cal and controlled play for long stretches, Cal has several players capable of rendering those long stretches pointless. Longshore was 20-of-24 for 266 yards, and Lynch - Jordan's cousin - had 126 total yards on a chilly night beneath the temporary light stanchions at Memorial Stadium, where the Golden Bears haven't lost in six games this season.
Jackson - or THA1, as he's taken to writing on his eye-black patches to promote his high-school nickname - finished off the Bruins with his third punt return for a score this season, tying the Pac-10 record in the third quarter.
"That's how you're supposed to play - as a team," coach Jeff Tedford said. "One guy doesn't have to make every play. ... We've got so many guys who can do it. Offense, special teams, defense. It's good to spread it around."
With scouts from the Rose Bowl in attendance, the Bears struggled on defense but showed off the explosive offense they hope will lead them to their first postseason trip to Pasadena since 1959.
Cal, which hasn't been 6-0 in conference play since 1950, has a one-game lead on USC, which beat Stanford 42-0 across the Bay. They'll meet at the Coliseum on Nov. 18, after Cal travels to face Arizona next week and the Trojans play Oregon.
"Tucson. Tucson. That's all we're thinking about," Longshore said.
Patrick Cowan passed for 329 yards and ran for a score in his fourth start as UCLA (4-5, 2-4) outgained Cal 516-433, but repeatedly failed to capitalize on strong drives in the Bruins' fourth consecutive loss.
"Sometimes you lose on the stats, but if you look at the scoreboard, you can see we dominated," said Cal cornerback Daymeion Hughes, who had his conference-best eighth interception.
Reliable UCLA kicker Justin Medlock missed two field goals, and Cowan threw two interceptions in Cal territory. Chris Markey got 70 of his 136 yards rushing on a late TD run for the Bruins, who must win two of their final three games - all against schools with winning records - to earn bowl eligibility.
"I think we showed some growth in our offense and made progress," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "We weren't smart in all circumstances, but we kept fighting. You have to score when you get a chance, and we didn't do that."
The Bears' cousins both got chances to shine. Jordan often gets overshadowed by the bigger names in Cal's offense, but he took a starring role with an early 10-yard TD catch and a 44-yard score in the second half.
"A lot of teams play zone coverages on us, but they were brave enough to play (man-to-man)," Jordan said. "We do well against man."
Jackson, who already has scored 19 touchdowns for Cal as a sophomore, provided another electric moment. He caught Aaron Perez's punt and took two steps to his left, then reversed his field and picked up a crushing block from Thomas DeCoud before juking Perez and outrunning the rest of the Bruins to the end zone.
Both DeCoud and UCLA's Korey Bosworth were knocked flat by their frightening collision, but both eventually made it to the sideline. Bosworth had a concussion and a stinger but still traveled home with the team, while DeCoud said he was fine.
Memorial Stadium was filled with 72,516 fans for its second sellout of the season - and just the fifth for any opponent except Stanford since the 1950s.
Cal wore its bright-yellow alternate jerseys for the first time since beating Oregon four weeks ago in another night game. But UCLA looked much sharper early, moving the ball with relative ease.
Lynch turned a bottled-up screen pass into a 24-yard TD in the second quarter, slipping a handful of tackles with his usual brute grace.
"He's real shifty," UCLA safety Dennis Keyes said. "You think you have him in one spot, but he gives you a look and makes a play."
Cal's Desmond Bishop made a diving interception 14 seconds before halftime, securing the Bears' 14-10 lead at the break despite UCLA's 248 total yards.
After Medlock missed his second field goal on UCLA's first drive of the second half, Longshore hit Jordan with a perfect 44-yard TD throw.