Scores
EMERALD BOWL

Final

Miami (FL) 17

(7-6, 4-4 ACC)

California 24

(9-4, 6-3 Pac-12)

8:00 PM ET, December 27, 2008

AT&T Park, SAN FRANCISCO, CA

1 2 3 4 T
MIA 0 7 7 317
CAL 14 0 3 724

Top Performers

Passing: J. Harris (MIA) - 194 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: J. Best (CAL) - 20 CAR, 186 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: L. Byrd (MIA) - 3 REC, 44 YDS, 1 TD

Cal shines late as Miami fumbles away Emerald Bowl

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Zack Follett concocted the final pass-rushing move of his California career and slipped past the Miami linemen who taunted him all night. He chased down Jacory Harris from behind, clubbing the ball from the freshman quarterback's hand with one big swipe.

Bowl Bloggin'

ESPN.com bloggers Heather Dinich (ACC) and Ted Miller (Pac-10) offer reaction from both sides of the Emerald Bowl. Blog

With just enough of the brains, heart and nerve exemplified by their senior linebacker, the Golden Bears proved there's no place like 12 miles away from home with a 24-17 victory in the Emerald Bowl on Saturday night.

After Follett forced that turnover deep in Miami territory with 3:28 left, Anthony Miller scored the go-ahead touchdown on his first career catch 47 seconds later. Although the ending was unlikely, with a freshman tight end cradling a perfect pass from a quarterback who was mostly terrible otherwise, the final result was no shock to Cal (9-4).

From Follett to Miller, the Bears were determined to capitalize on the decided home-field advantage provided by a baseball stadium teeming with screaming Cal fans.

"We couldn't let them come across the country and beat us in our back yard," said Follett, the defensive player of the game with nine tackles -- four for losses -- and two sacks. "I came to this park when it was first built. All my heroes in baseball as I was growing up played on this field -- Barry Bonds, all of them. I can wear my [championship] ring with pride."

Jahvid Best rushed for a bowl-record 186 yards and two touchdowns, yet the Golden Bears still needed a big defensive play and an unlikely hero to hold off the Hurricanes (7-6).

Cal quarterback Nate Longshore shook off a dismal 10-for-21 performance in his final game with that scoring pass to Miller as the Golden Bears won for the fifth time in a school-record six consecutive bowl appearances under coach Jeff Tedford.

Miami stayed in it with strong pass defense and a solid game from Harris, who went 25-of-41 for 194 yards and two TDs in his second career start while subbing for the suspended Robert Marve. Harris had won 31 straight starts dating back to his high school career in South Florida, but his fumble cost the Hurricanes in their first bowl game under coach Randy Shannon.

Fast Facts

• Cal won a bowl game for the fourth straight year, while Miami lost for just the third time in its last 11 bowl games.

• Cal coach Jeff Tedford improved to 5-1 as a head coach in bowl games. His five bowl wins at Cal matches the number of bowl wins the school had before he arrived.

• Cal running back Jahvid Best rushed for 186 yards on 20 carries, giving him 698 yards over his last three games.

• Miami coach Randy Shannon became just the second coach in school history to lose his first bowl game, joining Jimmy Johnson, who lost the 1984 Fiesta Bowl.

-- ESPN research

"We felt like if we could get the game into the fourth quarter, we had a chance to win," Shannon said. "They just made a play that we weren't capable of making."

Laron Byrd and Thearon Collier caught Harris' scoring passes for Miami, which tied it on Matt Bosher's 22-yard field goal with 9:13 to play.

After Cal's Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 34-yard field goal with 4:24 left, Follett knocked the ball away from Harris on third down.

"I was trying to get ready to throw the ball out of bounds, and I didn't see him," Harris said. "It was a great play by him. I'm kind of sad that I let the senior class down. I wanted to send them out with a bang, and we slipped up on that."

Cameron Jordan recovered Harris' fumble and returned it to the Miami 2, where Longshore connected with Miller. He was on the field for just three offensive snaps in the Emerald Bowl, and he could remember only four or five occasions when he was on the field for that play all season long.

"I was just there in case it got tipped, or it went over" Cameron Morrah, the play's primary receiver, Miller said.

Tedford chose Longshore, the oft-booed senior, to start his final college game instead of Kevin Riley, the Bears' starter for most of this year and the star of last season's comeback victory in the Armed Forces Bowl. If Riley is injured, the Bears won't acknowledge it -- and Longshore struggled all the way until his final throw.

"We practice that play probably every day of the year," Longshore said of his final throw. "I saw (Miller's) yellow (jersey) flashing across the back of the end zone."

Marve was among five Miami players suspended in the days leading up to the game for violating team rules, and starting tight end Dedrick Epps was a last-minute scratch from the lineup with a bruised leg. Graig Cooper rushed for 63 yards and Lee Chambers added 60 for Miami, and tight end Craig Zellner made eight catches for 48 yards in Epps' place.

Bay Area fans clad in blue and gold filled all but a few thousand spots in the sold-out stadium, turning the San Francisco Giants' waterfront ballpark into a cross-Bay rendition of Strawberry Canyon with a bowl-record crowd of 42,268. The Bears' campus is just across the water from San Francisco, yet the team stayed in a hotel in the city during its week of preparation, crossing the Bay Bridge for daily practice in Berkeley.

Best finished the season with 1,580 yards rushing, the second-best total in school history. Oregon State freshman Jacquizz Rodgers would need 328 yards in the Sun Bowl against Pittsburgh on Wednesday to overtake Best for the Pac-10 rushing title.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MIA
CAL
1st Downs1711
Total Yards313338
Passing194121
Rushing119217
Penalties3-302-10
3rd Down Conversions7-192-11
4th Down Conversions2-21-2
Turnovers21
Possession34:0525:55

Passing Leaders

Miami (FL)C/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Harris25/411944.721
CaliforniaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Longshore10/211215.810

Rushing Leaders

Miami (FL)CARYDSAVGTDLG
Cooper12635.3014
Chambers9606.7018
CaliforniaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Best201869.3242
Vereen8364.5013

Receiving Leaders

Miami (FL)RECYDSAVGTDLG
Zellner8486.0012
Byrd34414.7121
CaliforniaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Tucker17474.0074
Boateng3279.0015

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMIACAL
TD07:15Jahvid Best 1 Yd Run (Giorgio Tavecchio Kick) 07
TD04:55Jahvid Best 42 Yd Run (Giorgio Tavecchio Kick) 014
SECOND QUARTERMIACAL
TD12:54Laron Byrd 9 Yd Pass From Jacory Harris (Matt Bosher Kick) 714
THIRD QUARTERMIACAL
TD07:34Thearon Collier 6 Yd Pass From Jacory Harris (Matt Bosher Kick) 1414
FG00:27Giorgio Tavecchio 23 Yd 1417
FOURTH QUARTERMIACAL
FG09:13Matt Bosher 22 Yd 1717
TD02:41Anthony Miller 2 Yd Pass From Nate Longshore (Giorgio Tavecchio Kick) 1724