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November 11, 2006
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TUCSON, Ariz. - Antoine Cason returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown to lead Arizona to a 24-20 upset of No. 8 California on Saturday.
The Wildcats, who beat a Top 25 team for the second straight week, rallied from a 17-3 third quarter deficit to stun the Golden Bears. Arizona (5-5, 3-4 Pac-10) knocked off then-No. 25 Washington State in Pullman last week.
DeSean Jackson returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown and caught a 62-yard touchdown pass for California (8-2, 6-1). Marshawn Lynch rushed for 102 yards for the Golden Bears, who face No. 7 Southern California next week in Los Angeles.
With the game tied at 17 early in the fourth quarter, California quarterback Nate Longshore threw a sideline pass for fullback Byron Storer. But Cason stepped in front of the receiver, intercepted the ball and raced untouched down the sideline to give Arizona its first lead of the game. Longshore threw three interceptions.
The Golden Bears answered immediately with Longshore's 44-yard pass to Lavelle Hawkins, who was alone behind the secondary but stumbled and was down at the Arizona 1. Cal failed to score on two Lynch runs and an incomplete pass and settled for a 20-yard field goal by Tom Schneider.
On Cal's last possession, Longshore hit Jackson for an apparent 63-yard touchdown pass with 2:18 to play. But the score was nullified by a video review, which showed that Jackson stepped out at Arizona's 41. Jackson finished with six receptions for 131 yards.
The drive died when Arizona linebacker Ronnie Palmer intercepted pass with 1:32 to play.
After stopping Arizona on its first possession, California took a 7-0 lead when Jackson fielded a punt at his own 5, cut to the left hashmark and sprinted 95 yards for a touchdown with 11:43 to go in the first quarter.
It was Jackson's fourth return for a touchdown this season and the fifth of his career, both Pac-10 records. It was also his 22d career return.
Six minutes later, Arizona pulled within 7-3 on Nick Folk's 39-yard field goal - the first points the Wildcats have scored on Cal in three years.
Tom Schneider's 46-yard field goal late in the first quarter gave Cal a 10-3 lead. Then Jackson burned the Wildcats again.
With California facing second-and-12 at its own 38, Jackson caught a short slant and raced through the secondary for a 62-yard touchdown. That put Cal ahead 17-3 with 6:14 to go in the first half.
It looked to be enough against a floundering Arizona offense. But Arizona finally awoke midway through the third quarter, when wide receiver Michael Thomas took a lateral from quarterback Willie Tuitama and ran 39 yards to the California 5. Two plays later, Chris Henry scored on a 1-yard run to cut Cal's lead to 17-10 with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats tied it at 17 on Henry's 4-yard run in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Two Cal interceptions - one by Bernard Hicks, the other by Daymeion Hughes - were nullified by penalties during Arizona's eight-play, 50-yard drive.