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Cal Loses Smith, but Willis Helps Bears Improve to 3-0

September 22, 1996|From Associated Press

BERKELEY — Brandon Willis replaced injured running back Tarik Smith and ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, as California pulled away for a 33-15 nonconference victory over Nevada Saturday.

Smith, ranked fifth nationally in rushing with a 178.5-yard average, suffered a sprained knee late in the first quarter.

The Golden Bears improved to 3-0 under first-year Coach Steve Mariucci, only the third time in 18 years Cal has started a season with three consecutive victories.

Cal forced three turnovers, disrupting a Nevada attack that came in averaging 30.5 points per game.

After Damon Shea kicked his third field goal, a 33-yarder, to pull Nevada within 16-15, quarterback Pat Barnes ignited a Cal response with a 24-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez.

A roughing-the-passer call added 15 more yards, and three plays later, Willis shook loose off tackle for an 11-yard touchdown with 13:06 remaining.

Nevada (1-2) was driving when Matt Beck and Pete Destefano hit Ernie Wilson, forcing a fumble that Jerry DeLoach recovered at the Cal 28. The turnover led to Ryan Longwell's 33-yard field goal with 6:58 remaining. Willis, who had 23 carries, added a 29-yard touchdown run on a draw play with 1:15 remaining.

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