Santa Clara, CA (SportsNetwork.com) – Defense took a back seat as the Pac-12’s
top two offenses clashed in the first-ever college football game at Levi’s
Stadium on Friday night.
Marcus Mariota threw for 326 yards and five touchdowns to lead No. 6 Oregon to
a 59-41 victory over California.
Mariota completed 18 of his 30 passes and threw his first interception of the
season. Royce Freeman rushed for 112 yards and two scores on 22 carries for
the Ducks (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12), who have won three straight games after a 31-24
setback to Arizona.
“He had some big-time runs. He did a really good job of managing contact
tonight in situations where he got the first down or had a manageable second
down where he got either down or out of bounds,” Oregon head coach Mark
Helfrich said of Mariota. “Marcus is such a stud and it’s great that he has
another year and a half left.”
Byron Marshall had a game-high 133 receiving yards and a touchdown, while
Dwayne Stanford and Pharaoh Brown each caught two scores in the win.
Jared Goff compiled 360 yards and two touchdowns on 32-of-52 efficiency,
Daniel Lesco had 186 total yards with a score and Luke Rubenzer had two
rushing touchdowns for the Golden Bears (4-4, 2-4), who have lost their last
six games against Oregon.
“We just made too many mistakes in the ball game to beat a team as good as
Oregon, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys,” California head
coach Sonny Dykes said.
Maurice Harris caught nine passes for 79 yards and a score, Stephen Anderson
hauled in a TD pass and Vic Enwere ran in a score in defeat.
Cal made it a 31-28 game with 3:31 to play in the first half. Todd Barr ripped
the ball out of Freeman’s hands and Michael Lowe took the fumble to Oregon’s
5-yard line. On 4th-and-goal, Lasco leaped over the middle from a yard out to
get the Golden Bears within a field goal.
Marshall caught a 22-yard pass and ran 18 yards to Cal’s 12, but Stefan
McClure picked off Mariota in the end zone with 1:56 to go in the opening
After a quick three-and-out, Oregon got the ball back and needed just three
plays to make it a 38-28 game. Devon Allen made a 27-yard grab, Freeman ran
nine yards and Stanford hauled a 24-yard pass for a 10-point advantage heading
The Ducks picked up right where they left off after Marshall caught a 54-yard
score on the opening drive of the second half.
James Langford’s 47-yard field goal attempt steered wide left on Cal’s next
trek. Oregon responded by marching 70 yards in 10 plays. Freeman rushed for 7
yards down to the Golden Bears’ 2 on fourth down and ran it in from two yards
out on the next play to make it a 52-28 game.
Lesco rushed 30 yards into Oregon territory and Harris caught a 5-yard score
with 3:54 remaining in the third.
Tony Washington recovered Bryce Treggs’ muffed punt at Cal’s 21 and Mariota
found Brown in the end zone on the next play to extend Oregon’s lead to 59-35
with 8:58 remaining.
Rubenzer’s 2-yard rushing touchdown capped the scoring with 4:21 to play.
California started the scoring on its opening drive. Goff hit a crossing
Treggs across the middle for a 23-yard pickup and two plays later, Rubenzer
raced into the end zone up the middle from 12 yards out.
Oregon, however, quickly returned the favor. Mariota’s 25-yard pass to
Marshall moved the Ducks into their opponents’ territory. Mariota rolled out
to his right and scrambled six yards to his left for a first down and threw a
22-yard dart to Stanford, evening the game just over two minutes later.
Enwere bounced off a few tacklers and fell into the end zone on a 19-yard dash
to cap a 6-play, 75-yard drive for a 14-7 California lead.
Oregon went ahead with 24 straight points.
Allen returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards, Stanford hauled in an 18-yard
pass on third down and Freeman willed his way in from four yards out to tie
the game on Oregon’s next possession.
Christian French sacked Goff, knocking the ball loose, and Alex Balducci
recovered it to give Oregon a starting position at California’s 38. Aidan
Schneider kicked a 23-yard field goal to give the Ducks a 17-14 edge early in
the second quarter.
After Enwere was stuffed on 4th-and-1 at midfield, the Ducks needed just five
plays to find the end zone. Marshall broke free for a 24-yard run to
California’s 8-yard line and Mariota hit Brown with a pass in the back of the
end zone to make it a 24-14 game.
Charles Nelson eluded defenders down the right sideline, weaved across the
middle and raced in for a 58-yard punt return with 8:52 left in the second.
On Cal’s next drive, Goff connected with Chris Harper on a 27-yard pass deep
into Oregon territory and Anderson’s 11-yard touchdown catch two plays later
got the Golden Bears within, 31-21.
Mariota passed Bill Musgrave for the most passing yards in Oregon history with
8,625 … Mariota’s first interception of the season broke up a string of 245
passes without one … Mariota has thrown at least one TD pass in all 34 games
of his career … Levi’s Stadium will host the Pac-12 championship game on
Dec. 5 … Cal, which was held to 64 rushing yards or fewer in its previous
three games, finished with 193 yards on the ground … Oregon outgained