Dave Barr threw three second-half touchdown passes, including a 26-yarder to Iheanyi Uwaezuoke with 1:17 to play, as No. 17 California came back from a 30-0 deficit to beat Oregon, 42-41, on Saturday.
It was the second-biggest comeback in NCAA Division I history. Ohio State trailed Minnesota, 31-0, before winning, 41-37, on Oct. 28, 1989, and Maryland trailed Miami, 31-0, before scoring a 42-40 victory on Nov. 10, 1984.
It was the biggest comeback in Cal’s history. The Golden Bears scored a 29-28 victory over Arizona on Nov. 4, 1989, overcoming a 21-0 deficit.
Uwaezuoke’s catch ended a nine-play, 85-yard drive. Cal, still trailing by one point, went for the two-point conversion and Barr found Mike Caldwell in the corner of the end zone to complete a 35-11 surge by Cal.
“It was emotional. People were going crazy,” Barr said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever have a feeling like this again. We were down, beaten. We were hurting. We weren’t feeling good about ourselves, and we came back. We wouldn’t accept no for an answer.”
Said Cal Coach Keith Gilbertson: “Mike made a great, just awesome catch. Dave made a great pass. . . . It brought tears to my eyes. It was a great win.”
Uwaezuoke’s catch came on a play Barr called at the line of scrimmage.
“As soon as I saw it was man-to-man defense, I knew that I had my chance,” Uwaezuoke said. “In the first half, their pressure kept us from doing things like that.”
Said Oregon Coach Rich Brooks: “It’s got to rank up there with one of the toughest defeats in my life. We came out flat in the second half and Cal really took it to us.”
The Bears are 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Pacific 10; Oregon dropped to 3-1 and 0-1 despite 614 yards in total offense.
The Ducks’ Danny O’Neil threw for three touchdowns, completing 17 of 33 passes for 313 yards. Derrick Deadwiler caught 11 of O’Neil’s passes for 234 yards.
Barr completed 21 of 31 passes for 368 yards. His two other touchdown passes went to Damien Semien, who had seven receptions for 182 yards.
Oregon had a final chance to regain the lead, but O’Neil’s pass was intercepted by Artis Houston with 29 seconds to play and Cal ran out the clock.
Lindsey Chapman, whose late second-quarter touchdown ended the 30-0 run by Oregon, ignited a 20-point third quarter when he took a lateral from Barr and broke loose for a 61-yard scoring run.
Sean Burwell’s 13-yard scoring run extended the Ducks’ lead to 38-14 early in the third quarter. But Cal answered with a 46-yard pass play from Barr to Semien and Eric Zomalt’s 15-yard return off a blocked punt to pull the Bears within 38-27.
Ricky Whittle, who rushed for 113 yards, went 44 yards to the Cal 20, setting up a 21-yard field goal by Tommy Thompson with 5:11 remaining. The Bears struck back when Barr again hooked up with Semien, this time on a 72-yard play as Cal pulled within 41-34 with 4:53 left.
The Ducks took their 30-0 lead with 10:17 to play in the second quarter when O’Neil lateraled to Cristin McLemore, who then threw 20 yards to Willy Tate for a touchdown.
Cal, aided by three Oregon penalties, finally put together a drive, going 54 yards with Chapman getting the last yard to pull the Bears within 30-7 at halftime.
Oregon scored three touchdowns in two minutes during the first quarter. O’Neil finished off a 12-play, 94-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Dameron Ricketts.
Cal’s Na’il Benjamin fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Paul Jensen recovered for Oregon at the Cal 16. Four plays later, O’Neil passed two yards to Tate for the score.
Two plays into the Bears’ next possession, a Barr pass was intercepted by Chad Cota and returned three yards to the Cal 49.
O’Neil completed a 49-yard scoring pass play to Deadwiler on the next play.