Arizona stuns Cal at home, ruining Bears' BCS title dreams

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- California center Alex Mack was

philosophical about the eighth-ranked Golden Bears' 24-20 loss to

Arizona Saturday afternoon.

"It's not over," he said. "It just hurts."

The loss knocked the Golden Bears (8-2, 6-1 Pac-10) out of the

national title hunt. But Cal can still clinch its first Rose Bowl

berth since the 1958 season with a victory at No. 7 Southern

California next week.

For Arizona, the victory was another milestone on the road to

respectability. The Wildcats, who won three games each of the last

two years, have knocked off a Top 25 team on consecutive Saturdays.

Last week it was then-No 25 Washington State.

"It has been a long day, but it ended great," said Arizona

coach Mike Stoops, who has beaten four ranked opponents in three

seasons. "People rushing the field at the end, that's always a

good sign."

While delirious Arizona students tried to tug down the north

goalpost at dusk Saturday, the Bears looked back on a series of

plays that cost them the victory.

"There were a lot of things today -- a lot of things,"

California coach Jeff Tedford said.

The strange plays are perhaps the best way to explain how the

Bears blew a 17-3 third-quarter lead against a team that had

averaged 13.8 points in the first nine games -- and how they lost

despite outgaining Arizona 356 yards to 262.

"The whole game was like plays going their way," cornerback

Daymeion Hughes said. "I was like, 'Man, this can't be real.' "

The first one came midway through the first quarter, when a

block-in-the-back penalty on receiver Lavelle Hawkins nullified

tailback Marshawn Lynch's 79-yard touchdown run. The ball was

brought back to Arizona's 33-yard line and the Bears had to settle

for a field goal and a 10-3 lead.

With Cal clinging to a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter, a

defensive holding call erased an interception by the Bears' Bernard

Hicks. Two plays later, Hughes appeared to pick off a Willie

Tuitama pass at goal line, only to have an official flag him for


"That play right there was crucial," Hughes said. "That's

usually a no-call. It wasn't blatant. I was just going for the


Two plays later, Arizona tailback Chris Henry scored on a 4-yard

run to tie the game at 17-17.

Arizona went ahead 24-17 early in the fourth quarter when

cornerback Antoine Cason returned an interception 39 yards for a


"They've got good defensive backs and they jumped me," said

quarterback Nate Longshore, who threw three interceptions.

On the next series, Longshore hit Hawkins behind the Arizona

secondary. But with no one between him and the end zone, Hawkins

stumbled at about the 10 and landed at the Wildcats' 1.

Cal failed to score on two Marshawn Lynch runs and an incomplete

pass and settled for a 20-yard field goal by Tom Schneider.

The most painful play came on Cal's final thrust. Longshore hit

Jackson for an apparent 63-yard touchdown pass with 2:18 to play.

But the score was nullified by a video review, which showed that

Jackson stepped out at Arizona's 41.

"I wasn't paying attention to the sideline," Jackson said. "I

just made the catch."

It was about the only time Arizona managed to stop the speedy

Jackson, who returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown and caught a

62-yard touchdown pass. The punt return was his fourth for a

touchdown this season and the fifth of his career, both Pac-10


Jackson finished with six receptions for 131 yards despite

battling the flu.

Stoops' reaction when Jackson was ruled out of bounds? "The

football gods are smiling on us," he said.

Cal reached the Arizona 27 before Arizona linebacker Ronnie

Palmer intercepted a pass with 1:32 to play.

"We made just enough plays to win," Stoops said.

Or perhaps Cal didn't make enough plays. The Golden Bears came

into this game averaging 36.3 points per game, tied with Oregon for

most in the Pac-10.

The Bears had the league's leading rusher, Lynch, and its most

efficient passer, Longshore. But while Lynch rushed for 102 yards,

the Bears never found an offensive rhythm.

"You just have these games sometimes, and it was one of those

games for us," Longshore said. "It's really nobody's fault. We

just couldn't get anything going."