Cal drops Pac-12 contest to visiting Oregon

Cal drops Pac-12 contest to visiting Oregon

BERKELEY — Cal’s defense kept it close for a quarter but No. 8 Oregon gradually stretched out to a 42-24 victory in front of 37,077 fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Bears (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12) have now lost four in a row and it gets no easier. Having lost to Washington and Oregon at home, Cal treks south to face No. 10 USC next Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Quarterback Bo Nix threw three touchdowns and ran for three as the Ducks (7-1, 5-0) remained alone atop the Pac-12 with their seventh straight win since losing 49-3 defending national champion Georgia in the season opener.

The Bears led 3-0 at the end of the opening quarter, but the Ducks swung the momentum with a three-touchdown burst in 6 minutes, 29 seconds spanning the second and third quarters.

Oregon led 35-10 before Cal reserve quarterback Kai Millner came on to throw a pair of touchdowns in the final 8 minutes.

Down 10-7, Oregon took the lead when Nix squeezed over on a 1-yard sneak with 4:14 left in the second quarter. Jack Plummer was intercepted on Cal’s ensuing possession and the Ducks needed just three plays — and 35 seconds — to make it 21-10 when Nix passed 12 yards to running back Bucky Irving with 1:54 left in the half.

The Ducks got the ball first to start the second half and covered 75 yards in just five plays to push the lead to 28-10. Nix was 3-for-3 for 67 yards, including a toss over the middle to running back Noah Whittingham, who dashed 29 yards for the TD with just 2:15 elapsed in the third quarter.

There was no comeback drama by the Bears, who suffered their first lopsided defeat of the season.

It was decisive enough that coach Justin Wilcox pulled senior quarterback Jack Plummer early in the fourth quarter after the Ducks’ lead reached 35-10.

The Bears continued their recent offensive struggles. Since scoring 49 points in a win over Arizona, Cal has averaged just 16.5 points in four defeats.

Plummer finished 20-for-33 for 214 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Freshman running back also was done for the afternoon by then, after carrying 14 times for 57 yards.

Redshirt freshman Millner played the rest of the game and directed a 13-play, 75-yard drive, capped by his first career TD pass, an 11-yarder to Monroe Young with 7:38 left.

He then threw a 55-yard TD to Justin Richard Baker with 2:21 to play. Millner wound up 8 for 11 for 114 yards.

Cal became the first team since Georgia in the season opener to hold Oregon scoreless in the first quarter. The Bears led 3-0 on the strength of Dario Longhetto’s 28-yard field goal with 4:01 left in the quarter.

But the Ducks found their wings and opened up a 21-10 halftime lead.

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