Adams throws for 4 TDs and Oregon beats Cal 44-28
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) In case there was any doubt, Vernon Adams Jr. is back.
Adams threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair to Bralon Addison, and the Oregon Ducks became bowl eligible with a 44-28 victory over slumping California on Saturday night.
''I feel really good. I'm very comfortable with the offense now and I've got my reads down,'' said the senior transfer, who struggled earlier this season with a broken finger. ''Now all we can do is keep it rolling, one game at a time. It's a good feeling, I know that.''
Royce Freeman had 29 carries for 180 yards as the Ducks (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) held on to a slim shot at a place in the conference championship game with their third straight win. The Ducks amassed a school record 777 yards in total offense.
It was Oregon's first conference victory at Autzen Stadium this season after earlier losses to Utah and Washington State.
Jared Goff threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns for the Golden Bears (5-4, 2-4), who dropped their fourth straight game after a promising 5-0 start.
Adams, who transferred to Oregon after three seasons at Eastern Washington, started his third straight game after struggling with a broken index finger on his throwing hand earlier this season. Last week he threw for 315 yards and four TDs in a 61-55 triple-overtime win at Arizona State and was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.
He's having a lot more fun now that the Ducks are making a push down the stretch.
''It's always fun getting a win, no matter how you get it, whether it's a couple of points or a lot of points,'' Adams said. ''It was definitely huge for us and we've got that mojo going and we're going to keep rolling.''
Adams' surge is coming at the right time for the Ducks, who visit No. 9 Stanford next weekend. Oregon could still get into the Pac-12 title game with wins in their final three games and an additional Cardinal loss.
But Saturday night's victory was by no means perfect. Oregon had two blocked punts and Adams was intercepted twice in the end zone.
''That was one of the things we talked about in the locker room after the game: Despite all the things we did to kick ourselves in the gut, we never flinched, and that's a good thing,'' Ducks coach Mark Helfrich said. ''You don't want to be tested like that, but how they responded was good.''
Goff, who last week surpassed the 10,000-yard career passing mark last week in Cal's 27-21 loss to USC, threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Stephen Anderson on the first drive of the game.
''It's a three-week season and we got Oregon State next week and that's all we can focus on,'' Goff said. ''If we want to go to a bowl game we've got to start winning.''
The last time the Golden Bears came to Eugene it was 2013, and Goff completed just three of six passes for 11 yards in the first quarter before he was pulled. Goff said this week that his most vivid memory of that game was that it was played in an unrelenting downpour.
The rain fell - albeit not as hard - on Saturday night, but Cal practiced this week with wet footballs as a precaution.
Adams was intercepted in the end zone by Griffin Piatt, and Cal capped the ensuing drive with Matt Anderson's 27-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead.
Oregon closed the gap with Aidan Schneider's 41-yard field goal and tied it with Adam's 10-yard rushing TD that was capped by a somersault over a defender into the end zone.
Adams was under pressure and on the run when he found receiver Addison the first time with a 28-yard scoring pass to put the Ducks up 17-10, extending Oregon's current NCAA-best string of games with a touchdown pass to 77.
Adams hit Dwayne Stanford with a 10-yard touchdown before a 15-yard scoring pass to Addison that extended Oregon's lead to 31-10 at the half.
Matt Anderson kicked a career-long 48-yard field goal to narrow it, before a blocked punt, Cal's second of the game, put the Golden Bears in good field position for a drive that ended with Vic Enwere's 9-yard run. Goff had a keeper for the conversion to make it 31-21.
After Schneider's 21-yard field goal for the Ducks, Adams threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Charles Nelson and Oregon went up 41-21.
Bryce Treggs hauled in an 80-yard touchdown pass from Goff with 7:27 left, but Oregon added Schneider's 19-yard field goal with 3:23 to go for the final margin.
Oregon has a seven-game winning streak over the Golden Bears, who haven't defeated the Ducks since a 26-16 victory in Strawberry Canyon in 2008.