University of California Berkeley - Blue and Gold Yearbook (Berkeley, CA)

 - Class of 1986

Page 290 of 490


University of California Berkeley - Blue and Gold Yearbook (Berkeley, CA) online yearbook collection, 1986 Edition, Page 290
Page 290

Text from page 290:

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FOOTBALL A STAR IS BORN best word to describe the 1985 California Golden Bear football season would have to be " en- couraging. " After a disasterous and disappointing 1984 season in which Cal won only two of eleven games, the Golden Bears displayed a guttiness and determination which had been lacking in recent years as they finished the 1985 season with a 4-7 record. In addition to improving their record, Cal also discovered a new star in. freshman running back Marc Hicks, while another continued to shine brightly in junior linebacker Hardy Nickerson. Both players set school records and since both will return for the 1986 season, the future indeed looks en- couraging for the Golden Bears. California opened its 103rd year of football against San Jose State at Memorial Stadium on August 31, the earliest opening day in Cal football history. If anything, the shortening of their summer hibernation made the Bears hungry for victory and they pro- ceeded to consume the Spartans in a 48-21 rout. Running backs Dwight Garner and Ed Barbero combined for four touchdowns and were the primary contributors towards the Bears 303 rushing yards against San Jose State. Additionally, the 48 point total was the most in a game by a Cal team since 1977. The following week, in Pullman, Washington, the Bears seemed destin- ed to achieve a 2-0 start as they held a 19-0 lead over Washington State with ten minutes to play. But the Bears wilted like day old roses and lost to the Cougars 20-19 with 43 seconds re- maining on a des peration touchdown pass. Cal ' s next game was again on the road, this time up in Portland against the Oregon State Beavers. Despite four interceptions and a muffed field goal which Cal tight end Don Noble turned into a touchdown, the Bears suffered their second consecutive final minute loss as the Beavers kicked a last-second field goal to edge the Bears 23-20. The inevitable questions started to be asked. Were the last two games to serve as an omen for the Bears for the rest of the season? Would they continue to lose close games? The following game, which was at home, seemed to give affirmative answers to both of those questions. Cal trailed Arizona 23-17 with time running out, but Cal had the ball and proceeded to march down the field toward what should have been the go-ahead score when, with just over a minute left, quarterback Kevin Brown threw an ill-advised pass that was snat- ched out of the air by a Wildcat defender for a victory-saving intercep- tion. Once again Cal hac snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. The game proved to be the turning point of the season for Cal had played well against Arizona, but still lost. The Bears at one point drew within three points of Arizona with what would soon become wide receiver Vince Delgado ' s trademark, the end-around for a touchdown. Much-heralded freshman Hicks had finally gotten his chance to prove himself anc he made the most of the situation with an elec- trifying 41 yard catch to keep the Bears final drive alive. But a loss is a loss and this particular one gave the Bears an 0-3 record in the Pac 10. Unless a team is as lucky as UCLA is come Rose Bowl time, three conference losses means forgetting about playing in Pasadena on New Year ' s Day. And this was before some Pac 10 teams had played a single conference game. With Rose Bowl aspirations neatly tucked away at least until next season, Cal played the University of Missouri two weeks later, win ning 39-32. Again Marc Hicks lived up to his reputation as as he rushed for 139 yards and became the first freshman since Jackie Jensen in 1946 to rush for more than 100 yards in a single game. A star was born. Perhaps Cal should have stuck with playing Big 8 opponents like Missouri because the following week the Golden Bears played the always tough Washington Huskies and played just badly enough to lose 28-12. Even though Cal kept the game close at 14- 12 until the fourth quarter, the Huskies then posted two touchdowns to put the game away. If not for two early Kevin Brown miscues, an interception and a " backward pass " (most people would have called it a fumble, Kevin), and a plethora of injuries during the game, the Bears could have been in the game until the final gun. But as fate had it, the Bears chalked up loss number four. In the next game, against Oregon in Eugene, the situation looked bad for the men of Cal after just ten minutes as the Ducks sprinted out to a 21-0 lead. But just when victory seemed as likely as snow in Berkeley in July, placekicker Leland Rix popped two crucial field goals to keep the Bears in the game. Then Gayland Houston returned a punt for 33 yards for ex- cellent field position. On the next series Delgado ran another successful end-around for a TD. Oregon pro- ceeded to fumble on the Cal one yard line and the Bears recovered the ball for a touchback. Hicks later scored on a 42 yard play and Barbero bulled his way for 113 rushing yards. Final score: Cal 27, Oregon 24. Cal then traveled to LA to play even- tual Rose Bowl champion UCLA, and once again the Golden Bears were generous enough to spot an opponent to an early lead, this time by a 24-7 score at halftime. But hey, let ' s be serious. UCLA would never lose a 21-0 lead much less a 24-7 lead to a team from Cal. The Ducks maybe, but the Bruins, never. And the Bruins didn ' t lose the early evening contest as they pulled away from the Bears in the third quarter for a 34-7 victory. Going into the Arizona State game the following week, the Bears were at minimum, an exciting team to watch as five of their first eight games were not really decided until the final ninety seconds. The Bears ended this trend by playing themselves out of their se- cond straight game as they were thrashed by the Sun Devils 30-8. Once again Marc Hicks showed that he was indeed a star as he scored on a 79 yard pass from Brian Bedford, the Bears ' on- ly TD. Slowly but surely, the words " Heisman Trophy " were being whispered around the Cal campus for the first time since the days of Chuck Muncie and Steve Bartkowski. And then there was The Game. Not The Big Game against Stanford, but the USC game. This year the game was played at Memorial and a USC loss would guillotine the Trojan ' s Rose Bowl aspirations. USC had beaten Cal seven years in a row (some writers had called it The Small Streak) and held a 45-23-4 edge in one of the longest uninterrupted football rivalries in the nation. But for once, Cal beat USC 14- 6 behind the play of — you guessed it — Marc Hicks. Hicks scored both .of Cal ' s touchdowns, one on a pass of 26 yards after breaking three tackles and the other on a 16 yard scamper after a muffed handoff. In all, Hicks ran for 113 yards and was named Pac 10 Player of the Week. But the Bear defense also shined, limiting the Tro- jans to two field goals and repeatedly turning them back on prospective scoring drives. Hardy Nickerson, the quiet, unassuming defensive captain, lead the defense with an amazing total of 17 tackles, and in the process broke Ron Rivera ' s school record of 341 career tackles ... and this in Nicker- son ' s junior year. For his efforts, Nickerson also got accolades from the press as he was named the Sports Il- lustrated Defensive Player of the Week. The Bears finished the season with the traditional Big Game against Stan- ford. Once again Cal spotted the op- position to a substantial lead (24-0). But in a comeback that rivalled the Oregon State game in magnitude and the USC game in emotion, the Bears roared back with 22 unanswered points and had a chance to win the game with a 30 yard field goal with under five minutes left. But Rix missed wide. The 1985 season ended as the Cardinal succes sfully ran out the clock, but not before the Bears had given all they had. 282

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