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Manderino, Cal miss out on history

October 10, 2004

Barry Faulkner

Chris Manderino came to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday to

help his Cal football team make history. But he nearly made some of

his own.

Manderino, a former Newport Harbor High star and a three-year

starter at fullback for the No. 7-ranked Golden Bears, rushed three

times for 15 yards and caught two passes for 21 more in Cal's 23-17

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Pac-10 loss to No. 1-ranked USC (5-0, 2-0 in conference).

The redshirt junior played 29 offensive snaps and produced first

downs on three of his season-high five touches.

But his most notable brush with NCAA lore occurred with about nine

minutes left in a game the visitors hoped would be the program's

first victory in seven tries against a team sitting atop the national

polls.

By that time, Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers was piling up

precedents of his own, completing his first 23 pass attempts to set

school and conference single-game records for consecutive

completions. That total also tied him for the NCAA single-game high,

established by Tennessee's Tee Martin in 1998.

Add those to the three straight he completed at the end of a 49-7

drubbing of Oregon State Oct. 2, and it was 26 in a row as Cal (3-1,

1-1) broke the huddle on second-and-eight from the Trojans' 36-yard

line.

Rodgers was flushed to his left by the USC pass rush, as Manderino

darted into the flat, his familiar rout that resulted in his two

receptions Saturday.

But, this time, Manderino was hawked by a USC defender all the way

to the visitors' sideline, prompting Rodgers to intentionally loft

the ball out of bounds on a direct line above Manderino.

Thus, what could have been an NCAA-record-setting reception,

instead floated hopelessly over Manderino's head.

"Aaron makes good decisions and he threw that one away," said

Manderino, who had a record-setting career at Newport Harbor,

including a Newport-Mesa-best 31 touchdowns as a senior tailback in

2000. "I didn't know if I was open or not, but when I turned around

after the ball went out of bounds, I saw the USC guy had me covered."

When it comes to versatility at the fullback spot, Manderino has

it covered.

In addition to his punishing blocking, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound

former walk-on -- he was awarded a scholarship the week before making

his first start in the 2002 season-opener -- has compiled some modest

statistics.

Including Saturday, he now has 27 career carries for 116 yards and

one touchdown, as well as 23 receptions for 202 yards and two TDs.

Yet, despite his most prolific individual performance of the

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