Man, I’ve never felt so bad for someone from Cal. Seriously, Kevin Riley has to have had a rough last two days. He made the type of mistake you can’t recover from quickly. The redshirt freshman stepped in admirably for injured starting quarterback Nate Longshore, and led the then No. 2 Cal Bears during a tough contest with upset-minded Oregon State. Riley finished 20-34 for 294 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also completely lost his mind on the game’s final play, ruining Cal’s chances of a No. 1 ranking, and giving the Beavers the 31-28 win.
Following LSU’s hilarious loss Saturday evening, all Cal had to do was top the hapless Beavers, and they would have the pole position in the race to the BCS title game. Trailing 31-21 late in the fourth quarter, Riley led a furious comeback against a predictably soft Mike Riley (no relation) coached defense. I suffered through three years of horribly coached, terribly undisciplined Mike Riley-coached Chargers teams, so with the score 31-21, 6:31 remaining, and Cal getting the ball back, I told McD exactly what would happen. Here’s what I had to say:
“OK, so now, Cal is going to score quickly, then OSU will get the ball back, have a three-and-out on three conservative play calls, punt back to Cal, and Cal will drive down, tie it with a field goal and win in overtime.”
Sad part is, if not for Kevin Riley, I would have been 100 percent right. With 2:31 to go, Riley hit Lavelle Hawkins on a crossing route and Hawkins to it 64 yards to the house. After the extra point,the score was 31-28. Oregon State recovered the onside kick and after three awfully conservative calls, punted and pinned Cal at its own 5-yard line with 1:27 to go and no timeouts.
Riley proceeded to march the Bears right down the field. He connected with Hawkins on a 19-yard gain on 4th and 18, then hit Robert Jordan for a 37-yard gain that put the Bears well withing field goal range. Following a pass interference penalty that put the ball on the Beavers 12-yard line with 14 seconds to play, there it looked as if Cal would send the game to overtime at the worst. The home crowd was fired up as Riley dropped back and looked for a teammate in the end zone. Here’s what happened:
Yes, with no timeouts Riley attempted to run, rather than throw the ball away. Then, once he was tackled in bounds, he didn’t attempt to spike the ball or give it to the referee to spot it, he carried it off the field and flipped it to the team’s long snapper…which makes absolutely no sense. Plain and simple, the kid played a phenomenal game, and then absolutely blew it. He made the most bone-headed play I’ve seen in years. And what was on the line makes it that much worse. Good luck recovering from that one Kevin, I’m sure you’re gonna have a great week walking around campus, going to class and explaining yourself in film sessions this week. Especially now, since you’ve won our prestigious Douchebag of the Week Award. Congratulations.