After atoning for an embarrassing loss to Purdue with a convincing 27-23 victory over No. 24 Kansas Thursday night, the California Bears may be headed back to prominence.
Kansas, which waited 16 years to crack the national rankings, is probably headed back into obscurity."This was a great team win," coach Keith Gilbertson said after the Bears (2-1) led the favored Jayhawks from start to finish and held them 27 points under their season average. "We had to prove something because of last week. The win was brought about by our seniors, especially after the Purdue debacle."
Senior running back Russell White carried 39 times for 153 yards and ran his career all-purpose yardage total to 4,273, erasing Chuck Muncie's school record of 4,194.
"If you're hungry, you get fed," said White, adding he had "no idea" he would carry so many times. "We got fed tonight. Now we just have to stay hungry."
White and wide receiver Sean Dawkins accounted for 251 of Cal's 416 yards.
"At one pint he came back to the huddle and said, `I'm unstoppable,' " Cal quarterback Dave Barr said of Dawkins. Barr ran for one touchdown and threw for another.
It was a deeply disappointing loss for the 24th-ranked Jayhawks (3-1).
"We had some opportunities," coach Glen Mason said. "We had to make some plays work, and we didn't do it."
Cal never trailed in the first night game at Kansas since 1931.
"We had to prove to ourselves about where we were," defensive end Scott Roseman said. "I think we're back."
Kansas, which was last ranked in 1976, closed to 20-17 on Maurice Douglas' 31-yard touchdown run with 4:22 left in the third period following Charley Bowen's 21-yard interception return.
Moments later Dan Eichloff tried a 47-yard field goal that could have tied it, but Brad Bowers blocked the kick and the ball rolled to the Kansas 40. Six plays later, Barr's 11-yard touchdown pass to Dawkins restored the Bears' 10-point lead.
"The turning point had to be the opportunity to tie the game in the third quarter and we had the field goal blocked," Mason said. "We were very fortunate to be in this game at halftime."
After Dawkins' touchdown, the Jayhawks came right back and fooled the Bears on a halfback option pass from Matt Gay to Rodney Harris that covered 33 yards to the end zone. A try for two points failed, leaving California with a four-point lead with 8:13 left.
Kansas never got the ball back until the final minute.
"We had some big plays but we didn't have the consistency," Mason said. "That kind of threw us a little out of whack. Our third-down conversions are important, especially on third and short. It's critical for us to get better there."
The Bears led 13-10 at halftime and went up 20-10 on Barr's 1-yard run with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
Kansas quarterback Chip Hilleary, who entered the game averaging more than 237 yards on offense, didn't complete a pass until 8:00 of the second quarter and only Cal mistakes kept Kansas within three points at halftime.