Missed opportunities cost WSU in 20-13 loss

THE STREAK CONTINUES. Washington State had numerous opportunities to end a Pac-10 losing drought that extended to 16 games after a 20-13 loss Saturday against California at Martin Stadium.

But the Cougars (1-9 overall, 0-7 Pac-10) once again failed to capitalize against a Golden Bears' team that previously was winless on the road.

It started in the second quarter with the score tied at 7. A 33-yard return by junior Aire Justin placed WSU at California's 27. But a sack by Redmond High School product Trevor Guyton resulted in the Cougars losing six yards during that possession. They had to settle for a 51-yard field goal.

WSU was held scoreless in the first quarter for a fourth consecutive week, but the Cougars still managed to take a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter on a 10-yard run by junior Logwone Mitz.

But California (5-4, 3-3) responded on its next possession as quarterback Brock Mansion, who made his first start replacing injured Kevin Riley, completed a 50-yard pass to Marvin Jones to put the Golden Bears at WSU's 5-yard line. Two plays later, Shane Vereen scored on a 2-yard run to tie the game.

WSU then missed another opportunity to take a substantial lead into halftime. Redshirt freshman cornerback Nolan Washington intercepted quarterback Brock Mansion to give the Cougars possession at the Golden Bears' 40. But they could not convert on third-and-two and Furney missed a 50-yard field goal.

"We had an opportunity to win it obviously," WSU coach Paul Wulff said in a postgame radio interview. "We just didn't capitalize enough. We've got to get touchdowns."

While it gave WSU a 10-7 halftime lead -- its first edge at the intermission against a Football Bowl Subdivision program since the 2007 Apple Cup -- the missed opportunities were too much to overcome.

After the Cougars opened the second half with a three-and-out, California needed just four plays to drive 65 yards and take its first lead. Jeremy Ross scored on a 27-yard run to give the Golden Bears a 14-10 advantage.

BUT A YEAR after sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel threw for a career-high 354 yards at California, WSU's offense struggled to move the ball. And when it did, drives were squandered by mistakes. Perhaps the best example of that occurred directly after the Golden Bears took the lead. Sophomore wide receiver Gino Simone caught a 5-yard pass on fourth-and-three to move down to California's 36. But one play later -- after what appeared to be a long run by junior Logwone Mitz -- true freshman left tackle John Fullington was assessed a 15-yard penalty for a chop block. The Cougars eventually were forced to punt.

"That's just basic football stuff still affecting this team," Fox Sports Northwest analyst Jason Stiles said.

On their next possession, Tuel eluded defenders to find junior wide receiver Isiah Barton between defenders for 13 yards down to the Golden Bears' 25. But after an incomplete pass and a 5-yard run by Mitz on second down, WSU lost its positive yardage on a false-start penalty. The Cougars had to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Furney to close its deficit to 14-13.

California extended its lead to 20-13 during a 10-play drive that ended with 10 minutes, 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by Vereen to extend its lead to 20-13. The extra point was blocked.

That score was made possible by Ross, who caught a pass from Mansion on third-and-20 at his own 44 and fought through numerous defenders to pick up a first down.

"That was very frustrating," Wulff said. "To watch our players not get their kid down, that was difficult to watch."

While the Cougars' offense remained stagnant during the fourth quarter -- they produced just 194 yards of total offense -- their defense made another critical mistake with 1:27 left when sophomore Anthony Laurenzi was cited for a 15-yard face mask penalty. Instead of facing third-and-three, the Golden Bears had a first down and were able to run out the clock.

"That's an inexcusable play," Stiles said. "Mark that as a big play in this football game for the Cougars not getting the ball back."

And ultimately the one that ensured the streak would carry on.

TURNING POINT OF THE GAME: Laurenzi was assessed a 15-yard penalty gave California a first down late in the game and enabled the Golden Bears to run out the clock.

CATCH OF THE GAME:Junior wide receiver Isaiah Barton caught a ball between defenders on third-and-four for a 12-yard gain in the third quarter. Furney later converted a 48-yard field goal to cut Cal's lead to 14-13 in the third quarter.

HIT OF THE GAME:True freshman safety Deone Bucannon knocked Isi Sofele's helmet off during a tackle early in the fourth quarter.

STAT OF THE GAME: California outgained WSU 383-194.

MISLEADING STAT OF THE GAME: The Golden Bears averaged five yards per carry, but hardly were dominant offensively.

LEADING TACKLERS: True freshman linebacker C.J. Mizell had 12 tackles, while Bucannon added 10.

NEXT GAME: The Cougars play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Oregon State.

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