Bears roll; Tedford passes 'audition'?

Aaron Rodgers didn't beat the Washington Huskies Saturday, but he didn't have to. Spurred on by J.J. Arrington's ninth-straight 100-yard rushing effort, the 5th-ranked California Golden Bears (8-1, 6-1) wore down a game Washington (1-9, 0-7) defense in the second half en route to a 42-12 thumping at Husky Stadium.

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  • With UW Head Coach Keith Gilbertson leaving at the end of the year, this game had the makings of a 'live audition' for Cal head man Jeff Tedford, rumored to be the leading candidate in the Huskies' coaching search. Tedford left no stone unturned after a lethargic first half, with Arrington gaining 84 of his 121 total yards in the final two stanzas, scoring once. With backup tailback Marshawn Lynch scoring three times and matching Arrington's output, the Bears ran wild over a Washington rush defense beleagured all year by momentum-changing runs.

    "They (Arrington and Lynch) did a nice job especially in second-effort type runs where they are breaking tackles and breaking into secondaries," Tedford said after the game.

    But for all that went wrong for the Dawgs, including losing a coin toss that was made in another country, they showed remarkable resiliency in the first half, outgaining the Golden Bears 210 to 167 despite starting a couple of drives deep in their own territory. There was a lot of emotion early on the Huskies' sidelines, as the team wanted to send their seniors and their head coach - honored before the game with a letterman's jacket from the team captains - away from Husky Stadium for the last time with a victory.

    "They are just such great kids and they have been through hell," Gilbertson said of his team. "They just play, and are great to coach. There's nothing like the kids at the University of Washington."

    And if it weren't for a tipped field goal attempt in the second quarter and a Craig Chambers fade route in the end zone that was mere inches out of bounds, the Dawgs would have taken an improbable lead into the locker room.

    But such as their 1-8 path has taken them, even one of their best halves of football found them a point short, and it was a lead they would never overcome. For his part, Washington quarterback Casey Paus - who couldn't buy a game of fifty-percent-plus completions if his life depended on it - made up the difference in quantity. The junior from New Lenox, Illinois averaged over 20 yards a completion for the first 30 minutes of action, with Chambers and Sonny Shackelford being his primary recipients.

    Kenny James also had a nice return to form early on, ripping off a 33-yards on a run around left end that was one Cal player away from hitting paydirt. But for all of Washington's offensive yardage, finding the endzone for them has been as elusive as a Reggie Bush punt return. Credit California DC Bob Gregory and his 'bend-but-don't-break' philosophy for taking advantage of the Huskies' red-zone woes.

    UW has also been anemic when it comes to converting turnovers into points. They forced Rodgers, the top-rated passer in the Pac-10 conference, into two uncharacteristic interceptions. Scott White and Evan Benjamin came up with the thefts, but Washington couldn't capitalize on Rodgers' charity.

    The bottom line? 22 forced turnovers for 22 total points in a season the Huskies would rather forget.

    The Bears, who have outscored opponents by a 139-28 margin in the second half, woke up and went right to work on the Huskies' opening drive of the third quarter. Greg Van Hoesen blocked a Sean Douglas punt and Justin Forcett recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a 14-6 Cal lead.

    The Huskies found a quick cure in Chambers. The frosh from Mill Creek - in only his third career start - caught 8 passes for 189 yards on the day and one touchdown, a 77-yard romp down the south side of Husky Stadium for six, the longest play thus far for the Dawgs, and the longest play given up all year by Cal's stingy D. The 189-yard effort was the 9th best all-time by a Husky receiver.

    "I've been telling people that Craig's been there, he just needed a boost of confidence and now he's got it," Paus said.

    Chambers' electric play brought UW back to two, but another special teams breakdown led to a substitution foul and ultimately a blown PAT attempt by Evan Knudson. The usually unflappable Knudson, perfect on his last five kicks, also had a field goal attempt tipped at the line.

    Even though the margin with over ten minutes to go in the third quarter was two, it seemed as if Cal's offense had not gotten itself on track all game and was about to bust loose.

    Rodgers, 12-23 for the day for 161 yards and two scores, took a cue from his running backs and let his feet do the talking, ripping off a 36-yard scamper that put a dagger into hearts of Washington's faithful and took Washington captain Joe Lobendahn out of the game with a broken wrist.

    Lynch's 32-yard run two plays later capped off an 84-yard drive in only five plays.

    Washington, still down only nine at this time, needed to find some offensive success. Instead, Paus found Cal linebacker Wendell Hunter. Two Arrington runs later, it was 28-12 Bears and the fans headed for the stands. A Garrett Cross touchdown reception and 70-yard run by Lynch closed out the Bears' scoring effort.

    "He did it all," Tedford said of Lynch's overall game. "The strength, the speed, the agility, balance, ability to catch a football - he's a tremendous athlete."

    Overall, Cal tallied the final 28 points of the game, outscoring Washington 35-6 during the final 30 minutes of play. The Huskies' nine losses matches the all-time total, set by the 1969 and 1973 teams.


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