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In the End, Cal Figures It Out

No. 13 Golden Bears make key adjustments and roll to a 56-14 victory over Air Force.

September 05, 2004|From Associated Press

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Struggling with Air Force's unbalanced offensive line, California was in danger of another disappointing loss to the Falcons.

A little work on the sidelines and some adjustments at halftime by the Golden Bears turned the game into a rout.

J.J. Arrington ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns and California finally figured out Air Force's unorthodox scheme, helping the 13th-ranked Bears pull away in the second half of a 56-14 victory Saturday.

Air Force knocked off Cal the last time the Bears were ranked in 2002 and another upset appeared to be brewing when the Falcons were within seven points at halftime.

Air Force's unbalanced offensive line -- three linemen on one side of the ball, one on the other -- gave Cal problems in the first half, but once the Bears figured things out they dominated.

"They had a formation in the first that we hadn't seen before and the kids had a hard time getting lined up to it," Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. "We just got them settled down in the locker room and put all the sets on the board, and we just knew if we could just get aligned right we'd be OK. And that's what we did. The guys got aligned right and we had a great second half."

Taking advantage of the confused Bears, Air Force had 214 yards on its first three drives, scoring two touchdowns. But after Cal got itself aligned correctly, the Falcons managed only 12 yards in their next four drives. Air Force finished with 271 total yards -- 56 in the second half.

Cal's offense got off to a quick start and never really slowed. The Bears had touchdowns on their first three possessions and put the game away with five more in the second half. Cal finished with 573 yards to survive a difficult opening road test in a season that started with the school's highest preseason ranking in 50 years.

"We were just running the base plays and they just couldn't stop it," said Aaron Rodgers, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 208 yards with no interceptions.

"Our line dominated the line of scrimmage and made some huge holes."

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