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September 9, 2006

Cal bounces back to beat Minnesota

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BERKELEY, Calif. -DeSean Jackson caught three of Nate Longshore's four touchdown passes in the first half, and No. 22 California rebounded impressively from last week's season-opening loss with a 42-17 victory over Minnesota on Saturday.

Marshawn Lynch rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and Jackson caught seven passes for 114 yards as the Golden Bears (1-1) showed off all the offensive talent that attracted their highest preseason ranking in 54 years before their 35-18 defeat at Tennessee.

Lavelle Hawkins had career highs of nine catches for 125 yards, and Robert Jordan also caught a TD pass in Cal's sharp passing game. Jackson, the sophomore who led the Bears last season with seven TD catches, already has four in the first two games this year, along with a handful of spectacular nonscoring grabs.

Longshore struggled in Knoxville, but was much better in his first start at Memorial Stadium since his freshman season ended with a broken leg in last September's opener. He went 22-of-31 for 300 yards, patiently picking apart the Gophers' defense on the way to a 28-14 halftime lead.

Dominic Jones returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score for the Gophers, whose 17-game winning streak against nonconference opponents - longest in the Big Ten - ended.

The Bears were the first ranked nonconference opponent in coach Glen Mason's cupcake-filled 10 seasons at Minnesota, which beat lowly Kent State 44-0 last week and faces Temple and Division I-AA North Dakota State later.

Alex Daniels rushed for 78 yards but scored only on Minnesota's opening drive, while Bryan Cupito went 21-for-33 for 243 yards with two interceptions.

Lynch fumbled and committed a foolish personal foul, but the Heisman-hyped tailback also had 27 carries while wearing down Minnesota's defensive line. The Gophers yielded 531 yards - 371 in the first half - in the schools' first meeting in 19 years.

Daniels' TD plunge capped a 71-yard drive just 3 1/2 minutes in, but the Bears ignored their fans' groans and made a slick scoring drive, with Jordan catching a 24-yard TD pass over the middle.

Cal scored again when Minnesota safety Dominick Barber tipped an overthrown pass straight to Hawkins, who snagged it for a 42-yard gain to set up Jackson's 2-yard TD slant catch.

Jones, a sophomore safety, returned the ensuing kickoff for a score, cutting straight through Cal's coverage team in full stride for his first TD - Minnesota's first on a kickoff return in three years.

Lynch fumbled on the Bears' next possession, but the Bears made a 96-yard scoring drive later in the quarter with Jackson's 48-yard scoring catch down the Cal sideline. Jackson caught another short TD pass with 4:34 left in the first half.

The Cal student section began to chant the sophomore's name, and he responded with a towel-waving celebration in front of the bench. Jackson also had a game-long trash-talking battle with Jones, who didn't have much to say after Lynch's 5-yard scoring run late in the third quarter put Cal up 35-17.

A thick fog settled onto Memorial Stadium in the fourth quarter, gathering around the temporary light stanchions in Strawberry Canyon while Lynch bulled into the end zone for Cal's final score with 2:51 to play.

Brandon Mebane and Mickey Pimentel sacked Cupito in the closing moments, ending Minnesota's streak of eight games without allowing a sack.

For more coverage of the Cal Golden Bears, check out BearTerritory.net; for more coverage of the Minnesota Gophers, check out GopherIllustrated.com.

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