October 21, 2006

Cal Football Picks Off Huskies 31-24 in OT

We have seen a lot of amazing sports this year - from Milton Bradley's walk-off 3-run home run earlier this summer, to Marco Scutaro's bases-clearing double in the ALDS clincher, but today's overtime thriller between the #11-ranked Cal Bears and Pac 10 foe Washington Huskies has to rank right up there among the very best. Though we have grown accustomed to seeing the Golden Bears dominate their opponents in a hail of touchdowns and pounding defense, today's game started off slowly, with Berkeley down 10-3 at halftime, as the offense could not get off the ground.

As the crowd of 58,000-plus milled around uncomfortably, Cal came out with a new attitude in the second half, outscoring the Huskies 21-7, and taking a 24-17 lead, led by a series of athletic interceptions by the defense and consistent rushing by Marshawn Lynch and his backup, Justin Forsett. But the Huskies were given one more chance with just over a minute left to try and avert the loss. As Memorial Stadium roared, the Huskies quarterback took shot after shot of the end zone, avoiding a turnover on downs, and milking the clock as it ticked down to mere seconds.

Then, amazingly, as time expired, he took one last heave from midfield to a crowd of Cal Bears, one of whom slapped the ball down, where, if it hit turf, the game would be over and the Bears would win. Instead, the ball ended up in the hands of a Husky receiver, who took it in for the game-tying two yard score as regulation ended. Our thunderous cheers died, and those of us who have seen Cal pull defeat from the jaws of victory in our time at the school, shook our heads knowingly and smirked at what had befallen us. Overtime lay in our future, and any team could win. While a win would keep the Bears' momentum, a loss, the team's second on the year, would send them tumbling down the national rankings and out of BCS contention.

In overtime, Cal had the ball first, and Lynch quickly scored his second touchdown of the afternoon, putting Cal up 31-24, as the cannon sounded and the crowd cheered. That set up Washington with yet another chance to deliver heroics and further extend the game, but it was not to be. On the team's second play from scrimmage, the ball fell into the hands of the Cal defense for the fifth interception of the day - effectively ending the contest. Though the lineman gamely rambled 80-plus yards in a quest to pad the final score, he was tackled at the 12 yard line, as fans jumped and shouted, waving their hands in the air, and high-fiving all within reach. Where all had once seemed in jeopardy, all was whole again. The Bears had won. The Bears have moved to 7-1 on the year, the fans have gone home happy, and no doubt sunburned, and yet another great memory has been added to our record books.

Just another "boring" Saturday in the Gray household.

Listening to ''ZeroTonine'', by Junkie XL (Play Count: 6)

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