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Beavers send Cal packing with seventh straight loss

The Associated Press
Monday October 29, 2001

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As long as defenses keep zeroing in on Ken Simonton, Oregon State will keep throwing the ball to James Newson. 

And that might be just what the Beavers need to achieve their goal of qualifying for a bowl game, which can only be accomplished by winning three of their last four games. 

Newson had his second straight outstanding game, catching eight passes for a career-high of 166 yards as Oregon State prolonged California’s misery with a 19-10 victory Saturday. 

“We’re going to ride on his back for a while,” said quarterback Jonathan Smith, who completed 14 of 23 passes for 234 yards and a 14-yard first-quarter touchdown to Newson. “With the way they’re playing the run, we’re going to keep throwing it.” 

Simonton added 110 yards rushing for the Beavers (3-4, 2-3 Pac-10), but he fumbled at the end of a 55-yard gain in the third quarter, and otherwise Cal (0-7, 0-5) kept him under control. 

Terrell Williams, playing in place of injured tailback Joe Igber, gained 104 yards for the Golden Bears, who have lost 10 straight games dating to last season, when the Beavers started the skid in Berkeley. Cal has four games left to avoid its first winless season since 1897. 

“We’re just trying to finish this season,” freshman quarterback Reggie Robertson said. “I didn’t have a doubt in the world that we were going to win this game. I still believe that we should have, but we didn’t.” 

To make matters worse, Igber has a broken clavicle in his right shoulder and might be out the rest of the season; he was hurt before a 28-yard gain in the second quarter, the key play on an 80-yard drive that produced Cal’s only touchdown. 

With Kyle Boller sidelined for a second straight game with an injured back, Robertson got the start ahead of senior Eric Holtfreter. Robertson scored on an 8-yard scramble to pull the Bears to 10-7 in the second quarter, but he was just 12-of-32 passes for 120 yards and an interception. 

Cal also turned the ball over three more times, bringing its season total to 23. The Bears forced two turnovers, but still have the nation’s worst ratio at minus-18. 

Newson had eight catches for 112 yards in last week’s loss at Arizona State, and despite a steady rain, he came up with several big grabs Saturday. After his touchdown, he caught a pass over the middle from Smith for a 58-yard gain that set up a field goal, and he later had receptions of 16, 35, 16 and 31 yards. 

“I look forward to that kind of weather,” Newson said. “I think it’s kind of fun.” 

Oregon State gained 174 of its 364 total yards in the first quarter, and the Beavers’ defense – particularly the linebackers – did the job in the second half. 

Nick Barnett had 18 tackles, and Richard Seigler pressured Robertson into an intentional grounding from his own end zone for a 2-point safety and the game’s final score with 9:54 left. 

“My hat’s off to the D,” Simonton said. “They’re keeping us in games, period.” 

Simonton gained 100 yards for the 24th time in his career, but he had been averaging just 72.3 yards per game before Saturday. He was so happy to find some room to roam on his long run, he didn’t even worry too much about coughing up the ball. 

“It was a good high for me, even when I fumbled,” he said. “It felt good to get out and stretch my legs a little.” 

Cal entered the game with the conference’s worst defense, and the group seldom had anything go its way. So inept were the Bears that they managed to turn a fine defensive play into an Oregon State touchdown. 

With his team clinging to a 10-7 lead late in the second quarter, Smith threw into a crowd, and free safety Nnamdi Asomugha intercepted. But as he grappled with the intended receiver, Josh Hawkins, the Beavers’ Shawn Kintner came around Asomugha’s right side and stripped the ball from his arms. 

Kintner ran 10 yards for the touchdown and a 17-7 halftime lead. 

“It was our whole season wrapped into one 5-second play,” said Cal defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich.