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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / Week 6

After Its Victory, California Gets to Take Out the Trash

College football: Bears have plenty to say about Trojans in the aftermath of Coliseum stunner.

October 11, 1998|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

You thought the Cal Bears were talking trash about the USC Trojans before Saturday's game? You should have heard them afterward.

"If you keep punching SC, they are going to quit," said Bear receiver Dameane Douglas, who kept punching holes in the Trojan defense by catching a record 13 passes for 151 yards to help pull off an impressive comeback victory. "Some of those guys were yelling at me, 'We're SC. We have All-Americans. What do you have?' Well, we don't have All-Americans, We have a team."

The man throwing Douglas the ball was quarterback Justin Vedder, who played at Laguna Hills High and Saddleback Junior College before heading for Berkeley. During the week, Vedder made his presence felt in Southern California by supplying bulletin-board material for the Trojan locker room after he was quoted as calling the Trojans "arrogant."

Saturday, Vedder claimed the remark had been taken out of context but shrugged when asked if he was concerned that he had inspired the Trojans.

"They couldn't come out and put 12 guys on the field because I said something," Vedder said. "What were they going to do, blitz me [more]? Those guys were pretty quiet the last 15 seconds."

Neither Vedder nor Douglas nor their teammates spoke in anger or bitterness about USC. This was youthful exuberance, a team shaking their collective heads in wonderment at shaking off the label of being offensively weak by rallying against a team with a storied tradition in an historic stadium.

"I was a big Marcus Allen fan," Douglas said. "Just coming here to the Coliseum and seeing that horse [Traveler] was a big thrill. This is L.A. I love beating L.A. I'm from Central California. We get no respect."

He'll get it after breaking by two the all-time Trojan record for single-game catches by an opponent since 1946, held by eight other players. He also tied his school's single-game record.

How did Vedder feel about that?

"I'm happy to be in the program," he said.

But as the clock was winding down, Douglas wasn't thinking about the record book. He was focused on the scoreboard. Desperate to complete the comeback, he kept yelling, "Get me the ball" to anyone who would listen.

Cal Coach Tom Holmoe was listening.

"The tougher the game gets, the better he gets," Holmoe said. "In basketball, some players want the last shot, they want the ball. And some players try to get covered so they don't get the ball. Dameane wants the ball."

He got it on a third and seven from USC 15-yard line with under four minutes to play and the Bears trailing by six.

Vedder, tipped off by offensive coordinator Doug Cosbie, spotted a seam in the USC defense and changed the play at the line.

"I was a little anxious," Holmoe acknowledged. "We had a great play called. When I saw him check off, I said, 'Oohhh. . . . great call."

Not to worry.

Vedder passed to Douglas on a slant for 12 yards and the Bears scored on the next play.

When it was over, tight end A.J. Kunkle, who caught two touchdown passes, planted the Cal flag in the Coliseum turf.

Back when it was 31-10, that seemed about as likely as Kunkle planting it on the moon.

Or Douglas planting his name in two record books.

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