BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- California was in control late in the
third quarter with a 21-point lead when Arizona had a first down at
the 4. With their shutout about to be broken, the Golden Bears
toughened up and put together a goal-line stand.
No. 12 California blanked Arizona for the second straight year,
getting 107 yards rushing and a touchdown from Marshawn Lynch in
his return from an injury and beating the Wildcats 28-0 Saturday.
"Those guys were feeling it," coach Jeff Tedford said. "You
could tell they were in a frenzy. They were flying around and
Joe Ayoob threw for two scores and ran for one for the Bears
(5-0, 2-0 Pac-10), who are off to their best start since winning
their first five games under coach Steve Mariucci in 1996.
Arizona (1-3) lost its conference opener and is off to a rough
start in coach Mike Stoops' second season, beating only Division
I-AA Northern Arizona so far and with a trip to No. 1 Southern
California next week.
"To go eight quarters without scoring is unacceptable," said
Stoops, whose team lost 38-0 last year to Cal. "We didn't play
well offensively, we didn't coach well and we didn't execute
anything. The inability to run the football really hurt us. We're
not a one-dimensional team. We can't play that way. That's it in a
Ayoob went 14-for-20 for 137 yards and Justin Forsett ran for 74
yards for Cal. Ayoob also had two key scrambles on touchdown drives
and showed off his mobility on his TD throw, rolling right and
reversing field before connecting with Robert Jordan on a 39-yard
score that made it 21-0 midway through the third quarter.
"It was a designed roll out and there was nothing there,"
Ayoob said. "I felt the pressure and spun it back across the
field. I gave him the go-deep sign and he ran to the end zone and I
got it to him."
Ayoob, making his fourth career start, struggled on other deep
throws and Tedford said they will need to work on that this week in
practice if they want to beat No. 20 UCLA next Saturday.
But the Bears did most of their damage on the ground, which was
no surprise considering they had run for more than 200 yards in
each of the first four games and Arizona entered the game 100th in
the nation in run defense, allowing 202 yards per game.
Lynch, who missed the last two games with a broken finger,
scored in the first quarter and gave Cal its 17th straight game
with a 100-yard rusher. Lynch got nicked up on one hit on his
injured left hand, leading to a fumble, but said he felt good
"He was back to his normal self, not going down easily,"
Tedford said. "I thought he did a pretty good job up the middle
and holding onto the ball."
Forsett, who had 422 yards those two games, ran for 50 yards on
the drive that ended with Ayoob's 1-yard run. Cal finished with 194
yards rushing on the day.
The Wildcats' best chance to score came after Syndric Steptoe
returned a punt 34 yards to the Cal 19 late in the third quarter.
Arizona had a first-and-goal at the 2, but then lost 2 yards on a
pair of runs and Richard Kovalcheck threw two incompletions to turn
it over on downs.
"We had a few guys that were relentless on the goal line and
stopped the run," cornerback Tim Mixon said. "I'm excited we shut
them out. Last year, we put up a goose egg on them, and we did it
Kovalcheck finished 19-for-36 for 169 yards and three
interceptions. Arizona was held to 37 yards rushing.
Arizona drove inside the 20 late in the first half, but an
intentional grounding by Kovalcheck sent the Wildcats back to the
33. The flag wasn't thrown until about a minute after the play,
when referee Larry Farina consulted with two other officials. Nick
Folk's 50-yard field goal was then blocked by Abu Ma'afala.
"We moved the ball but we couldn't put the ball into the end
zone," Kovalcheck said. "It's tough not capitalizing. I made huge
mistakes trying to do too much."
After the teams traded interceptions early in the first quarter,
Arizona appeared to get the first big break when Steptoe returned a
punt 79 yards to the 5. But a holding on Dramayne McElroy negated
the play and put the ball back on the Arizona 15.
Cal forced a three-and-out and Mixon had a 27-yard punt return
to set the Bears up at the Arizona 45, setting up Lynch's 1-yard
score in the final minute of the first quarter.
Cal stuck to the ground on its other first-half scoring drive,
gaining all 79 yards with the run. Ayoob scored on an option keeper
on fourth down from the 1 to make it 14-0 midway through the second