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College Football | PACIFIC 10

Arizona Redeems Itself, 52-41

November 17, 2002|From Associated Press

A few days after John Mackovic's players nearly brought him down, they hoisted their coach on their shoulders to celebrate the most improbable development yet in Arizona's dramatic week.

Jason Johnson passed for a school-record 492 yards and threw two of his four touchdown passes to Justin Levasseur as Arizona ended a six-game losing streak Saturday with a 52-41 victory over California at Berkeley after a near-mutiny by half of Mackovic's team.

Nobody was sure what to expect from the Wildcats (4-7 overall and 1-6 in the conference) this weekend after more than 40 players met with university President Peter Likins on Tuesday night to express their distaste for Mackovic's abrasive style and other concerns.

Instead of resigning, as many university insiders thought he would, Mackovic apologized for several mistakes during a tearful news conference.

"They showed unbelievable courage, character, heart, everything," said Mackovic, who got a brief postgame ride on two freshmen's shoulders before hugging Athletic Director Jim Livingood. "I don't think they'll ever forget this game. It will not necessarily be the biggest victory they ever have, but it's something they'll use as a lesson for a long time."

There was little trace of any bad feelings in the visitors' locker room at Memorial Stadium, where the players led a jubilant cheer that brought tears to Johnson's eyes.

Bobby Wade caught 11 passes for a career-high 222 yards as the Wildcats finished strong in a wacky victory over Cal (6-5, 3-4).

Levasseur, a backup tight end who was one of Mackovic's biggest detractors, caught his first two touchdown passes of the season, including the go-ahead score with 12:37 left. Earlier this week, Mackovic apologized to Levasseur for calling him "a disgrace to his family."

"Coach said this was our game, and we should play for ourselves," said Levasseur, a native of nearby Antioch. "I always try to put on a good show for my family, and they were all here."

*

Oregon State 31, Stanford 21 -- Steven Jackson rushed for 230 yards in 35 carries and scored a touchdown as the Beavers (7-4, 3-4) rallied for a victory over the Cardinal (2-8, 1-6) at Palo Alto.

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