EUGENE, Oregon – Sophomore quarterback duo Brady Leaf and Dennis Dixon filled in nicely for injured senior starter [/db]Kellen Clemens[/db]. Both quarterbacks passed for a touchdown, with Leaf tossing the go-ahead score in overtime, as No. 15 Oregon outlasted No. 23 California, 27-20, in a Pac-10 Conference match-up.
The duo combined for 232 passing yards on 24-of-39 attempts, with one touchdown and one interception.
"Each one made plays at times," said California head coach Jeff Tedford. "It comes down to turnovers and making plays plain and simple. They made more plays than we did."
A native or Northern California, Dixon was thrust into the starting role when stellar signal-caller Clemens suffered a fractured left leg at Arizona on October 22nd. The highly touted sophomore, who responded by completing 15-of-26 passes for 139 yards with an interception, opened the scoring with a 23-yard first-quarter TD strike to Demetrius Williams.
Leaf, the younger brother of former Pac-10 star Ryan, saw action throughout the game, and after a scoreless fourth quarter, he was under center to start the overtime. He completed 9-of-13 passes for 93 yards, none more important than a four-yard scoring strike to junior James Finley on the first possession of overtime to give the Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) a 27-20 lead.
The game ended when junior Cal quarterback Joe Ayoob could not connect on a 4th-and-8 pass to David Gray, who was wide open inside the 10. It was reminiscent of Oregon's loss last year in Berkeley, when a wide open Duck wide receiver did not catch a pass, thus ending a game. However, Ayoob, who struggled throughout the game, simply rushed his throw.
"We couldn't fire on all cylinders and compete in the passing game," Tedford said. "It's unlike us to drop that many balls."
"They must have been confused, he was that wide open," added Tedford about Gray being that wide open on the final play. "He might a made it to the end zone on that one."
Ayoob finished 10-of-26 for 88 yards and three interceptions for the Golden Bears (7-3, 3-3), who overcame a 10-point third-quarter deficit. Sophomore kicker Tom Schneider kicked a 45-yard field goal for the Bears before Cal tied the game on sophomore tailback Marshawn Lynch tied the game with a 52-yard burst up the right sideline with 49 seconds left in the third period. Lynch had the biggest game of his young career, rushing for 189 yards on 25 carries.
Schneider just missed a potential game-winning 54-yard field goal wide left as time expired in the fourth quarter. The Bears had to hurry on the field and ended up rushing the kick due to the fact that they had no timeouts.
A.W Prince is the senior writer and publisher of BearTerritory.net. He pens a west coast basketball article entitled "The Weekly Spin" for all Bay Area basketball programs, plus numerous other recruiting features on some of the most talented and highly sought after student-athletes in the country. Along with the "The Weekly Spin", Prince has made radio appearances with Rivals Radio and Bay Area college basketball pre-game, halftime, and post-game in-season shows.