Ducks Turnover Costly Errors

Berkeley- Normally the turnover-takeaway ratio tells the story of who wins or loses a game. Today though, midst a continual downpour of rain the Oregon Ducks took the ball away from the California Golden Bears more than the other way around, but in the end it was Cal 26, Oregon 16.

(PHOTO) California's Darian Hagan (26) and Devin Bishop (10) bring down Oregon's Jeremiah Johnson (24) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

"We got five takeaways in the first half and, other that the first one, we were not able to capitalize,' pointed out Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti of the game. "Give Cal credit, they stymied us at the line of scrimmage. That was very frustrating. I thought our defense played extremely well."

Oregon started off the game with an interception of a Kevin Riley pass on the first drive of the game when Nick Reed came off the edge and altered Riley's throw. Oregon linebacker Spencer Paysinger was on the spot to nab the interception and the Ducks were in business on the Cal 46. Six plays later, Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli took off for a 17-yard touchdown run to make the score 6-0. The point after though was a harbinger of what the game would look like. When the Ducks lined up for the PAT the ball was snapped badly and holder Tim Taylor had trouble fielding the ball. Taylor attempted to run the ball into the end zone but was tackled.

Oh, one other point, while this was going on a driving rain was getting everything soaked including the field, the stands and even the catered lunch boxes in the press box.

As impressive as the Oregon drive looked, the Bears responded with a nine-play, 72-yard drive culminated with Riley hitting Jeremy Ross for 22 yards and a touchdown.

The teams traded possessions and after Jahvid Best broke off tackle for 50-yards, Cal recorded its second turnover of the day when Best coughed up the ball. The Ducks took over but could not move the ball and forced a punt. Disaster struck again when the ball was snapped over punter Josh Syria's head for a safety and Cal was up 9-6.

"It's unfortunate when you make mistakes that give another team the game, especially a good football team," admitted Bellotti. "We gave them the ball twice inside the 10-yard line and gave them a safety, missed an extra point and missed a field goal. That's on us. That's our responsibility. Having said that, I think we are a really good football team that beat itself today."

Things seemed to settle down for both teams in the second half, except for California fumbling and losing the ball twice with Nick Reed recovering both fumbles. Oregon on the other hand was unable to move the ball as the Bears found a way to stop the Ducks rushing attack. Finally with Oregon looking like it would move the ball down field as the last minute of the first half wound away, disaster struck again. This time it was Masoli throwing the ball to the Bear's Worrell Williams, who took the ball back to the Oregon 3. Nate Longshore, who had come in for an injured Riley threw a touchdown pass to Nyan Boateng and with the PAT, Oregon trailed at halftime 16-6.

Oregon added a 39-yard Matt Evensen's field goal on the first drive of the second half to trim the Bear's lead to 16-9 but Cal responded with a field goal of their own on the following series to put the lead back at 19-9.

The Ducks launched an impressive drive that covered 55 yards in three plays and Jeremiah Johnson capped it off with a 17-yard run up the middle for the touchdown and cutting Cal's lead to 19-16 near the end of the third quarter.

Johnson was the game's leading rusher with 117 yards net on 20 carries. Masoli had 97 yards net on 21 runs. Best finished the rainy afternoon off with 93 yards net on 17 carries and his back up Shane Vereen had 61 yards on 21 carries.

The Ducks looked like they had the momentum in the fourth quarter as the Duck defenders forced Cal to punt when disaster number three struck, this time when Cal punted and instead of letting the punt go, return specialist Jairus Byrd attempted to field the ball. Unfortunately for the Ducks, Byrd misread the ball sailing in and he fumbled it inside the 10 at the Oregon 6. Cal scored easily when Vereen punched the ball in from the 3 giving the Bears the final score of 26-16. Evensen had one opportunity in the final quarter to tack on a field goal but missed right from 29 yards.

Justin Roper made an appearance in the final drive of the game throwing 4-for-11 and 40 yards. This is significant in that Masoli complete 7-of-21 for 44 yards for the entire game. Masoli also threw two interceptions.

"Jeremiah is still a work in progress," said Oregon Offensive Coordinator Chip Kelly of Masoli. "There were times he looked dynamic out there and there times he made mistakes out there. We just have to continue to teach and work and grow with him."

Kelly admitted that while the roster listing shows Masoli as a sophomore, in actuality Masoli has been with the Ducks since last summer and just recorded his sixth start.

Bellotti refused to blame weather conditions for the lack of passing production by the Ducks, even though the field had standing water that he described as "unheard of" in this day and age.

"We didn't throw the ball that well today but I don't think it was a result of the water or the wetness of the football," confessed Bellotti. "We just didn't have people open and the few times that we did we actually the ball into the dirt."

Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford was forgiving of some of the mistakes because of the conditions. He also had praise for Longshore who spelled the battered Riley. Longshore finished going 13-for-27, 136 yards and one touchdown.

"When you have conditions like that, you've really got to hustle and put yourself in a position to make plays," said Tedford. "The ball is going to be on the ground from time to time because it's so slippery out there. I thought our guys played very, very hard. In the second half, I thought Nate (Longshore) did a really good job of controlling the football and not forcing anything and turning the ball over. And as we preach turnovers, the team that had the last turnover today was the team that lost."

Notes:
Riley was force out of the game with a concussion
Paysinger's interception in the first quarter was the second of his career.
Masoli rushed for touchdown for the third straight game.
The safety in the first quarter is the first the Ducks have allowed in 2008.
Reed chalked up his third and fourth fumble recoveries of career, all this season.
Reed also had two TFLs to move into sole possession of second place on the Oregon career list with 45.0.
T.J. Ward forced a pair of fumbles, giving him three this year.
Former Duck tackle Geoff Schwartz, now with the Carolina Cougars was on had standing on the Duck sideline, even though his brother Mitch Schwartz is a starter on the California line.

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