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Unsuccessful Gamble Ends Longest Game

November 3, 1996

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ After four overtimes, 111 points and 1,254 yards, California’s exhausted players stumbled off the field smiling. Arizona’s players wore grim looks.

The longest game in major college history ended with a daring gamble that backfired, giving the Bears a 56-55 win Saturday.

``Even though this is a devastating feeling, someday someone will say that’s the greatest college football game ever played,″ said Arizona coach Dick Tomey, who gambled and lost. ``I guess it’s better than both teams walking off the field talking to themselves.″

The Wildcats had just scored a touchdown and needed an extra point to send the game into a fifth overtime. Tomey went for broke and decided the game would end right there.

Arizona lined up for the extra point, but holder Ryan Hesson took the snap and flipped it over his head to kicker Matt Peyton, who was tackled immediately by Andre Rhodes to end the game.

``It took guts,″ said Arizona quarterback Keith Smith, who threw five TD passes and ran for two more scores. ``We make the play and we all go crazy.″

Smith threw for 418 yards, and he wasn’t even the most productive quarterback in the game _ Cal’s Pat Barnes threw for eight touchdowns and 503 yards, both school records. The eight TD passes also were a Pac-10 record.

``I’ve never thrown that many TD passes, not even in a pickup game,″ said Barnes, who broke the Cal record of 435 yards passing he set a week earlier.

Three of Barnes’ touchdown passes came in overtime. Individual and team statistics from overtime count toward NCAA and school records.

Overtime was just introduced this fall in regular season games in Division I-A. The longest Div. I-A game before Saturday also involved California _ the Bears beat Oregon 48-42 in triple overtime on Sept. 28.

But Saturday’s game was not even the longest college contest this season. On Oct. 5, Florida A&M beat Hampton 59-58 in six overtimes to tie the Division I-AA record.

``This crazy overtime thing that we do,″ mused Cal coach Steve Mariucci. ``We just kept fighting and fighting and fighting.″

The win moved Cal (6-2, 3-2 Pac-10) into a third-place tie with Washington State in the conference and kept the Bears on the path toward a bowl. Arizona (4-4, 2-3) still has not won on the road this season.

Smith had two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to rally Arizona to a 35-35 tie. Smith threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Jeremy McDaniel on the first play of the first overtime, but Barnes responded with a scoring pass to Dameane Douglas.

McDaniel, who entered the game with eight catches for 119 yards this season, set school records with 14 catches for 283 yards Saturday _ including two touchdowns.

Both teams missed field goals in the second overtime, and scored touchdowns in the third extra period.

In the fourth overtime, Barnes threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Marc Vera and Ryan Longwell added the extra point to give Cal a 56-49 lead. Arizona then took its turn from Cal’s 25, and Gary Taylor scored five plays later on a 1-yard run.

Then, Tomey decided the game had gone on long enough. A few minutes later, he motioned to the two locker rooms of tired players.

``These guys in here are devastated and those guys over there are happy. And that’s the difference in the game,″ he said, holding the thumb and forefinger on his right hand an eighth of an inch apart.

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