EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Brady Leaf's first career touchdown pass was
a winning one.
Leaf threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to James Finley in overtime
and No. 15 Oregon beat No. 23 California 27-20 on Saturday.
The Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) played their first game without
starter Kellen Clemens, who is out for the season with a broken
ankle. Dennis Dixon started, but it was Leaf who led them to
victory in a game played in constant rain and unpredictable winds.
"They told me I'd get a series here or there, maybe, so I just
prepared myself to play," said Leaf, who got the word as
regulation ended that he would be playing in overtime.
California (6-3, 3-3) had a chance to win, but Tom Schneider
missed a rushed, 53-yard field goal attempt as time ran out in the
fourth quarter. The Bears have lost three of their last four games.
The only loss for Oregon (8-1, 5-1) has come against top-ranked
Leaf, the younger brother of former Washington State star Ryan
Leaf, completed 9 of 13 passes for 93 yards, while Dixon was
15-for-26 for 139 yards and a score. He threw one interception.
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti hesitated for a time when asked after
the game if Dixon was still his starter after Saturday.
"I would say yes right now. I haven't seen the film. But my gut
feeling is yes," Bellotti.
Marshawn Lynch ran for 189 yards on 25 carries, but it wasn't
enough to carry the Golden Bears. Joe Ayoob completed just 10 of 26
passes for 88 yards. He was intercepted three times.
"They looked like two young quarterbacks, but Oregon did a good
job protecting them and they made some good plays at times. They
did enough in the passing game to win," Cal coach Jeff Tedford
Dixon hit Demetrius Williams with a 23-yard touchdown pass
midway through the first quarter to give the Ducks a 7-0 lead. Cal
evened it up after a blocked Oregon punt on Lynch's 1-yard run.
After Paul Martinez put Oregon back out in front with a 29-yard
field goal, Schneider made a 21-yard field goal with 44 seconds
before the half to tie it at 10.
Martinez, who missed a 37-yard attempt in the first half in wet
and windy conditions, hit a 49-yard field goal to cap the first
series of the second half.
After Ayoob fumbled and Oregon recovered on the Cal 18, Terrence
Whitehead ran it in on the next play to make it 20-10.
Schneider's 45-yard field goal narrowed it again for Cal, before
Lynch broke away with a 52-yard touchdown run to tie it at 20.
Schneider's miss as time ran out sent the game into overtime, and
Cal was unable to move the ball after Oregon scored.
"I got it up. I didn't quite get a line from the wind,"
Schneider said of the miss. "It started up the middle and fell off
at the end."
It was Leaf's first touchdown pass, and Finley's first TD catch.
"James calls himself `The Fat Man,' he says he catches anything
around him," Leaf said. "I knew if I got it in his area he'd get
it for me."
Watching from the sidelines on crutches was Clemens, who has
been made an undergraduate assistant coach so that he can help
Dixon and Leaf.
Clemens fractured his left ankle in Oregon's 28-21 win at
Arizona on Oct. 22 and underwent surgery. He finishes with 61
touchdown passes for his career, one short of Danny O'Neil's school
Bellotti believed Dixon was shaken on his first touchdown pass,
when he was hit hard. He also thought the sophomore had some
first-time starter jitters.
"I think anytime you get the first start and you're ordained
`the guy,' there's a little bit more pressure," Bellotti said.
Ayoob was heckled by fans after the Bears lost 23-20 at home to
Oregon State, but the next week he completed a 9-yard touchdown
pass to Lavelle Hawkins with 1:50 left for 42-38 victory on Oct. 22
over Washington State.
Both Oregon and Cal were coming off byes.
Lynch and Justin Forsett were both averaging 108-plus yards
rushing going into the game. But Oregon held Forsett to just 32
yards on six carries.
Whitehead ran for 119 yards, for his 10th game with 100-plus
yards, and caught eight passes for 72 yards.
The Golden Bears have not won in Eugene since 1987. They had a
seven-game losing streak overall until a 28-27 home win over the
Ducks last season.