Defense, Arnold help Dawgs overcome Bears

California roared to a 14-0 lead in the first nine minutes of the football game, but some key defensive adjustments by the Huskies and two Cody Pickett to Paul Arnold bombs turned the game around and allowed the Huskies to come from behind to once again defeat California 31-28 in Berkeley.

Cal came out in 15 different offensive sets in their first 20 plays and the Huskies took the entire first quarter to figure them out.

"We're a very young team and it took some time to get it sorted out on the sideline," said Coach Rick Neuheisel after the game.

"Cal played great. I didn't have my team ready to go and I take full responsibility for that. They outcoached us in the first half. I got whipped. Fortunately, we were able to come back and get it going. I'm going to talk to my very young team about the maturity to prepare for games like this, to make sure you bring full intensity and effort to every venue," said Neuheisel.

The Bears' first drive was a textbook display of mixing the play action pass and running game. Joe Igber burst through for a 9-yard run early, which put the Husky linebackers on their heels. Boller used it to his full advantage, leading the Bears to a 90-yard, 14-play drive. He found Charon Arnold for 13 yards and then again on a third and long in front of Roc Alexander for a first down. Sean Currin ran a drag pattern in front of Chris Massey and hauled in a two-yard touchdown.

The Bears followed that by marching right down on the confused Husky defense, picking up big yards on a nifty swing passes to Marcus Fields. The drive looked stalled when Anthony Kelley and Jamaun Willis were able to run Boller out of bounds for a four-yard loss at the UW 19. However, Boller dropped back, stood in against a six-man Husky rush and found Igber down the middle for a touchdown in front of Wondame Davis to stake the Bears out to a 14-0 lead.

The Bears were looking as though they were on the verge of putting the game away very early after Bear defensive tackle Daniel Nwangwu sacked Pickett on his own two-yard line. Freshman punter Derek McLaughlin then picked a perfect time to break the school record by uncorking a 74-yard kick from his own endzone. However, Cal began marching right back with two quick completions. The first was good for 15 and the second to Arnold would've been good for 10 but, as he slanted in front of the Husky secondary, linebacker Jamaun Willis stripped him and Greg Carothers recovered on the Cal 42-yard line.

Washington got on the board on their very next play. Pickett faked a handoff to Singleton and rolled right on a jailbreak. Paul Arnold got behind a cover-two zone and Pickett floated a ball to him at the three. Arnold made the catch for a 42-yard touchdown.

The Bears had a very quick reply. On third and two from their own 43, Boller waited for Marcus Fields to cross the formation over to the backside of the Husky defense where there was no one home. Fields gathered in the ball and rambled 32 yards all the way down to the Husky 24-yard line. Two plays later Boller would fake to Fields, drawing Anthony Kelley away from the middle of the field and allowing TE Jordan Hunter a wide open seam to receive Boller's pass and waltz into the endzone for a 21-7 Bear lead.

Washington would catch a break when a McLaughlin punt hit a Cal up-man and was recovered by Ben Mahdavi at the Bear 26. Washington could only muster three yards in three plays before summoning Anderson to convert from 40-yards out to cut the Bear lead to 21-10.

To that point, Washington had one first down in the game and ZERO rushing yards. Washington's offensive line was being absolutely dominated by the Bear front line.

A 27-yard punt return by Charles Frederick set the Huskies up on their own 47-yard line. A Pickett sneak on third and short gave the Huskies their second first down at the 6:00 mark in the second quarter. Frederick went for eight on a well-designed reverse. On third and one, Pickett hit Elstrom on a square-in, taking the ball down to the Cal 20-yard line for a first down. The drive stalled when Pickett stumbled to the turf for a loss of two on third down. After a difficult snap, Pickett had difficulty getting the ball spotted well and Anderson would miss wide right on his 34-yard field goal attempt.

Greg Carothers would give the Huskies one more shot at scoring before half when he dove to knock down a Boller pass on third and 12. Frederick would return the ensuing punt 14 yards putting the Huskies on their own 46. Pickett looked to have delivered a strike when he threw deep to Reggie Williams who was well behind the Bear secondary but the freshman was unable to adjust to the throw and it floated long and slightly off target. The drive would die when Pickett went down Tully Banta-Cain mauled him to the turf at the 35.

Cal left the field at the half having torched a bewildered Husky secondary for 198 yards and rushing for 70 more while the Huskies could muster but yards through the air and a net six yards rushing.

The third quarter started out all Dawgs as Alexis ran hard, Williams made a 16-yard reception and Hooks made receptions of 16 and 10 yards to move the ball all the way to the Cal 7-yard line. Then the red zone offense went drab gray once again. An Alexis run gained one, Pickett's pass to Elstrom was knocked away and then an option dive handoff to Walker netted only two yards. When Elliott Zajac's snap was low once again, it caused Pickett to have trouble getting the ball down and threw Anderson's timing off. The 21-yard field goal hooked wide and Washington had nothing to show for a 15-play drive. It could've been devastating but the Dawgs didn't hang their heads.

Mainly because Tim Hundley's defense continued to keep them close. After Cal punted back to the Huskies at the 5:50 mark in the third quarter, the Bears had gained but 17 yards since their barrage in the first quarter.

From their own 21-yard line, Ware made a diving 17-yard reception and then Pickett struck. Paul Arnold was matched up one-on-one against Atari Callen and Pickett spotted it immediately. As the junior from Seattle streaked a deep post into the middle of the field, Pickett let fly with a spiral that Arnold ran to, gathered in and sprinted to the endzone for a 62-yard score.

The next time on offense Gilbertson went to the same plan, looking for Cal's Atari Callen. He was matched up against Reggie Williams and the freshman from Tacoma beat him on a go route and Pickett threw a perfect strike. Callen was able to get Williams down on the four. Three running plays moved the ball inside the one-yard line, setting up a fourth and goal. Cal initially had stopped Alexis in his tracks but his second effort got him over the goal line to give the Huskies their first lead of the game at 24-21.

The Cal defense finally held the Huskies to a three and out, their first of the second half, but Cal's Chris Ball crashed into Derek McLaughlin after he punted the ball away. Washington would go on to eat away four more minutes off the clock and Sam Cunningham would down McLaughlin's next punt at the Bear two-yard line.

After Larry Tripplett sniffed out a screen pass for no gain, Cal punted back to Washington and Frederick was able to field the end over end punt and set up the Huskies on the Bear 37-yard line. Alexis took a pitch for seven and then Pickett would pick up 16 on a keeper to set the Huskies up for the kill. A holding penalty would move the ball back out to the 19-yard line but Washington would make it up quickly when Gilby hit a call perfectly. Cal shot a blitz and Alexis got the ball in the left flat on a screen and took it down to the one. Alexis fumbled the ball through the endzone on the play but the referees ruled that he was out of bounds. Alexis punched it in two plays later to push the Husky lead to 10.

Cal's offense finally woke up from their hibernation and drove 85 yards in eight plays to draw within three. The drive was aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Terry Johnson. Boller would connect with 6-4 wideout Chase Lyman in front of Roc Alexander for a 20-yard touchdown to make it 31-28.

California had one last shot at the Huskies when they took over on their own 30. It was perhaps a microcosm of the entire Cal football experience over the past decade, however. On first down, Charon Arnold was five yards clear of Omare Lowe and racing toward six points but Boller overthrew him by five yards. On second down, Lyman caught the ball for a first down but then ran backwards two yards, setting up third and one. An absolute breakdown in Cal's offensive line allowed Larry Tripplett to come through untouched to nail Boller as he was handing the ball off for a three-yard loss. On fourth down, Boller found Currin open and hit him in the chest.

The ball ricocheted off Currin's chest and to the Memorial Stadium turf.

Game over.

"We made some great adjustments at halftime and I'm certainly thankful to my players for not pointing out any fingers at one another and just rallied. It's a great lesson for me and hopefully I'm not going to forget it soon," said a very relieved Neuheisel.

Pickett would finish the game with 18-33 for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Rich Alexis carried the load for the Dawgs on the ground, fighting for 94 tough yards. On defense, Greg Carothers led all Husky tacklers with 10 stops.

[ BOX SCORE and STATS ]

Husky Notebook:

Captains Marcus and Joe: Defensive end Marcus Roberson was today's game captain, as was tight end Joe Collier. They joined captains Larry Tripplett and Kyle Benn at midfield for today's coin toss.

Tui on the sideline: Marques Tuiasosopo was on the Husky sideline today. He stood at the 30-yard line next to Husky coaches.

Early bear woe: Cal only waited six seconds before committing their first mistake of the game, a late hit on the opening kickoff on Zach Tuiasosopo. Ironically, Cal had downed the kick for a touchback.

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