Cal Ends Down Season On Up Note
by Mike Mitchell
December 31, 2007
California sustained an early hit to defeat Air Force 42-36 in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The Falcons came out on fire and raced to a 21-0 second quarter lead before Cal finally found its footing. Kevin Riley replaced Nate Longshore at quarterback and immediately got his team on the board with a 40-yard touchdown hook-up with DeSean Jackson.
After an Air Force punt, Riley went to work again and hit Lavelle Hawkins on a 5-yard pass to pull to within 21-14 at halftime.
Ryan Harrison's 29-yard field goal put the Falcons head by 10 on their fist possession of the second half. But Riley, who finished with 3 TD passes while completing 16-of-19 throws, tossed an 18-yarder to Robert Jordan to close the gap to 24-21.
Air Force drove to the Cal 1-yard line on its next series, but only resulted in a 19-yard field goal. The Falcons also lost four-year starting QB Shaun Carney on the drive as he tried to score on an option play on 3rd down.
On their ensuing possession, a 52-yard pass to Jordan on the first play put Cal on the Air Force 4-yard line. Two plays later, Justin Forsett ran in from a yard out to give the Golden Bears a lead they would never relinquish.
A 21-yard Forsett touchdown run and a Riley 1-yard rush were sandwiched around another Harrison field goal, giving California a 42-30 lead.
Air Force fought back with a 4-yard TD run by Chad Hall with 2:22 remaining, but the Golden Bears recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
After staring the season with five straight wins and rising as high as No. 2 in the national polls, California went just 1-6 down the stretch and limped into this bowl game.
Both teams entered the contest with 8-8-1 bowl records.
Air Force, under first-year head coach Troy Calhoun, was playing in its first bowl game since a 20-13 loss to Virginia Tech in the 2002 Emerald Bowl. The Falcons have not won a bowl game since the 2000 Silicon Valley Classic win over Fresno State.