PULLMAN, Wash. (AP)—Shane Vereen ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and up-and-down California snapped a six-game road losing streak that dated to last season with a 20-13 win over Washington State on Saturday.
The Bears (5-4, 3-3 Pac-10) were playing without quarterback Kevin Riley, who injured his knee in a game against Oregon State last week.
Brock Mansion started in his place, completing 12 of 24 passes for 174 yards while throwing two interceptions against a WSU (1-9, 0-7) defense that ranked at or near the bottom of the conference in nearly every defensive statistic.
But a staunch defensive effort by Cal, which had lost its previous four road games this season by a combined score of 145-61, bailed out the Bears’ ineffective offense against a Cougar team that has now lost 16 consecutive conference games.
Vereen also scored Cal’s first touchdown, a 2-yard rushing score that was the end result of a 95-yard Cal drive early in the second quarter.
Washington State managed a 10-7 lead at halftime thanks to a 51-yard field goal by Andrew Furney, the Cougars’ first halftime lead in a Pac-10 game since 2007.
Cal responded early in the third, though, as Jeremy Ross took a fly sweep 27 yards for a touchdown with 11:17 left in the third quarter to give the Bears the lead for good.
The score followed a 27-yard pass from Mansion to receiver Marvin Jones, who used a one-handed catch to steal an interception from WSU safety Deone Bucannon.
Another Furney field goal cut the Cal lead to 14-13 with 1:24 remaining in the third, but the Bears extended the lead to seven with a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive capped by Vereen’s 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Bears a 20-13 lead—the PAT was blocked—with 5:29 to play.
The Cougars had two chances to drive down the field and tie the game after Cal’s final touchdown, but both series resulted in three-and-outs and the Bears were able to run out the clock.
Those last-ditch attempts by the Cougars were typical of their offensive performance all day. WSU quarterback Jeff Tuel finished just 9 of 25 for 92 yards, and was sacked six times by a California defense that held the Cougars to 194 yards of total offense, and just 60 in the second half.
Jones caught four passes for 101 yards.