|ESPN.com: NCF Nation||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Jahvid Best and Zach Follett saved California from an embarrassing loss in the Emerald Bowl, what amounted to a home game against a young Miami team starting a true freshman quarterback.
|AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez|
|California running back Jahvid Best carried the majority of the load -- and the credit -- for the Bears Emerald Bowl win over Miami.|
Best's 186 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries represented nearly all of Cal's offense in the 24-17 win, while Follett's second sack of the night forced a fumble from Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris and set up with winning score with 2:41 left.
That winning score came on a Nate Longshore pass to Anthony Miller on second-and-goal from the 2. It appeared Longshore was throwing to tight end Cameron Morrah, but Longshore will take any smidgen of good fortune he can get.
The final start of Longshore's career was mostly forgettable. While he didn't throw an interception, he completed just 10 of 21 passes for 121 yards, 74 of which came on dump to Verran Tucker that turned into a big play and set up Best's first score.
Longshore, who's been in a sometimes strange, season-long battle for the starting job with Kevin Riley, also tripped and fell to the ground on a third and goal play from the Miami 1-yard line with the score tied 14-14 late in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Harris completed 25 of 41 for 194 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He outplayed Longshore for much of the game before the late fumble and some remarkably bad clock management at the end that prevented Miami from mounting a potentially game-tying drive in the final two minutes.
Said the Cal fans: Whew.
And so Longshore, after a star-crossed career that included more than a few boos from the home fans, finished with a win. That counts for something.
Cal fans will be eager to see what Best will do next fall, hopefully with just one quarterback handing him the ball. The sophomore had runs of 42, 32, 28 and 25 yards, and probably earned a spot on most short lists for the 2009 Heisman Trophy.
He hurt his thumb with nine minutes left in the game and didn't gain another yard, but was on the field when Longshore notched his redeeming moment.
Cal's win, though underwhelming, makes coach Jeff Tedford 5-1 in bowl games. The Bears finish the year at 9-4 and could enter the final top-25 poll.
The win also makes the Pac-10 2-0 in the bowl season.