Justin Herbert threw two touchdown passes and La’Mar Winston Jr. returned a fumble for a touchdown to help No. 19 Oregon bounce back from a crushing loss a week ago by beating No. 24 California 42-24 on Saturday night.
Travis Dye ran for 115 yards and a touchdown and C.J. Vardell ran for 106 yards as the Ducks (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) got a big road win against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1) after losing all four conference games away from home a year ago.
A week after blowing a 17-point, second-half lead in a 38-31 overtime loss to Stanford, the Ducks broke out to a 35-10 lead early in the third quarter. Cal responded with a TD run by Patrick Laird and had chances to cut further into the deficit after Dye lost a fumble.
But the Oregon defense responded well this week, intercepting a pass from Chase Garbers in the end zone and stopping Brandon McIlwain for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the 1 early in the fourth quarter. Ugochukwu Amadi sealed the game with a 32-yard interception return against McIlwain for a TD that made it 42-24.
Cal started well in its first game as a ranked team in three years by holding the ball for nearly half the first quarter before settling for a field goal on the opening drive. The Bears went back ahead 10-7 early in the second quarter on a 28-yard keeper by McIlwain.
But the Ducks scored three TDs in the final 5:44 of the half to put away the game. Dye scored on a 45-yard run and Herbert connected on a 36-yard TD pass to Dillon Mitchell.
Then with the Bears driving and looking to cut into an 11-point deficit, the Ducks seized momentum in the final seconds of the half. Drayton Carlberg sacked McIlwain and knocked the ball loose. Winston scooped it up and raced 61 yards for the score that made it 28-10 with 18 seconds left in the half.
Vardell had a 74-yard run to the 1 on the opening play of the third quarter for the Ducks to set up another TD.
Oregon: Herbert was sharp as usual, completing 16 of 22 passes for 225 yards. But he got plenty of help from a strong ground game and the big plays by the defense. There were two defensive TDs, Amadi and Jevon Holland each had two interceptions, and Troy Dye made the big fourth-down stop against McIlwain.
California: The Bears figure to have a short stay in the poll. They allowed far too many big plays defensively and couldn’t develop any consistency throwing the ball. Cal used Garbers and McIlwain throughout the game. McIlwain had the first 100-yard rushing game for a Cal QB since Joe Kapp in 1958 but neither quarterback was effective throwing the ball with three INTs.
Oregon: Host No. 11 Washington on Oct. 13.
California: Visit Arizona on Saturday.
Source: The Associated Press