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Wednesday, January 2, 2002
Jackson's touchdowns, Hester's big return lead the way

Associated Press

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) -- James Jackson ran for two touchdowns, and Devin Hester returned a kickoff 85 yards for another score Wednesday as Florida beat California 34-24 in CaliFlorida Bowl III at El Camino Junior College.

Jackson, of Tallahassee Lincoln High, scored on a 6-yard run late in the first quarter and a 5-yarder in the third period.

California, which won the two previous all-star games against Florida 21-11 and 17-14, took a 7-0 lead on a 43-yard pass from Marcedes Lewis of Long Beach Poly to James Finley of Los Angeles Manuel Arts.

However, Florida quickly tied the game on the kickoff by Suncoast Riviera Beach High's Hester, and went ahead for good on Jackson's first touchdown run.

Todd Merz of Laguna Beach High kicked a 31-yard field goal to cut Florida's lead to 14-10, but Dan Shula of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, grandson of former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to James White to make it 21-10 at halftime.

Jackson's second touchdown run on Florida's first possession of the third quarter extended the winners' lead to 17 points, but California made it 27-17 later in the period on a 1-yard run by Hershel Dennis of Long Beach Poly.

Florida clinched the victory when Baraka Atkins of Sarasota Booker High scored on a 4-yard fumble return with 5:27 remaining after a snap from the center went over quarterback Ben Olson's head from the California 19-yard line.

Olson, of Thousand Oaks High, threw a 26-yard scoring pass to Finley less than a minute later to complete the scoring.

Dennis led all rushers in the game with 72 yards on 15 carries; Olson completed 10 of 11 passes for 118 yards, and Finley had five receptions for 102 yards.

Shula completed four of seven passes for 34 yards, and Gavin Dickey of Tallahassee Lincoln completed six of 13 for 129 yards.

The two previous games were played during the summer, but this game was moved to this time of year to coincide with the BCS title game Thursday night between unbeaten Miami and Nebraska at the Rose Bowl.