Cal posts fourth straight win vs. Washington

SEATTLE (AP) -- Take away his first pass Saturday, and Joe Ayoob matched the hype that accompanied his arrival at California.

Ayoob was intercepted on his first throw but overcame the shaky start to throw four first-half touchdown passes, leading the No. 16 Golden Bears to a 56-17 rout of Washington.

Ayoob missed on his first three throws but then quickly erased from memory last week's 0-for-10 debut against Division I-AA Sacramento State.

"There was a lot of hype around me coming in, and I felt I didn't prove myself," Ayoob said. "I wanted to prove myself to everybody and show the guys what kind of football player I am."

With Washington's defense focusing on stopping the Bears' running game, Ayoob picked apart the Huskies' secondary.

He finished 17-of-27 for 271 yards. He attempted just seven passes in the second half after throwing for 227 yards in the first two quarters. The 56 points were the most ever allowed by Washington at Husky Stadium.

"He had great composure and made great plays throughout the game," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He was not apprehensive at all. He wasn't looking for some safe game to get his confidence back."

It was Cal's fourth straight win over Washington, the first time that's happened since 1973-76 and only the fourth time since the teams began playing regularly in 1915.

For Washington coach Tyrone Willingham it was his first loss against the Bears. He was 7-0 versus Cal while the coach at Stanford. The Huskies have lost eight consecutive games dating to last season.

Washington could not have scripted a better start. Safety Darin Harris picked off Ayoob on the opening play, catching a deflection off the shoulder pad of cornerback Matt Fountaine on a deep pass.

On the next play Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback faked a wide receiver screen before finding Sonny Shackelford open for a 56-yard score and a 7-0 lead just 20 seconds in.

Ayoob missed his next two throws, extending his drought to 13 attempts. The junior found Robert Jordan on an 11-yard completion with 9:47 left in the first, letting out a "Finally" in the huddle. He then settled into a rhythm, showing the talent that made him the California junior college offensive player of the year last season.

His favorite target was Jordan, the first player to call Ayoob and give encouragement after last week's struggles. Jordan had 11 catches for 192 yards and three TDs.

"I was like, 'We're going to need you, keep your head up.' It was more him getting comfortable," Jordan said. "Everybody knows he can play ball."

Late in the first quarter, Ayoob and Cal's offense displayed its potency, taking just 1:19 to score. Marshawn Lynch ran for 25 yards and then Ayoob completed the next four passes, the final one to Jordan on a 9-yard touchdown.

The two connected on a 24-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to give the Bears a 14-10 lead. The catch was initially ruled out of bounds, but officials overturned the call on replay.

Ayoob directed an eight-play, 94-yard drive, capped by a 58-yard strike to Jordan with 2:50 left in the second quarter. Washington went three-and-out on its next possession. Punter Sean Douglas was pressured on fourth down and tackled for 6-yard loss at
Washington's 13. On the next play, Ayoob found tight end David Gray open for a 13-yard touchdown and a 28-10 halftime lead.

"We couldn't get a stop and we just couldn't make those plays," Willingham said. "Cal made some mistakes today ... but they were playing at such a high level and with such confidence."

Washington closed the gap, scoring on its first possession of the second half. Stanback found Craig Chambers for a 39-yard score. But Ayoob led the Bears on a 76-yard drive, capped by a 5-yard run by Marcus O'Keith with 1:43 left in the third. O'Keith added a
71-yard TD run in the fourth, as Cal finished with 557 total yards.

Stanback finished 22-of-39 for 301 yards for Washington and Shackelford had six catches for 124 yards, but the Huskies were held to just 68 yards rushing.

"It takes a lot of stress off the passing game when your run the ball. That's something that didn't get going today," said Stanback, who had an interception by Cal's Daymeion Hughes returned 41 yards for a TD in the fourth.

Cal lost Lynch to a broken left pinky finger on its first offensive play of the second half. A week after rushing for a career-high 147 yards against Sacramento State, Lynch was mostly a decoy, carrying the ball just five times for 46 yards before leaving.

With his hand wrapped afterward, Lynch said he expects to play next week and had high praise for his quarterback.

"A lot of people didn't think he'd be able to perform the way he did today," he said.