Marshawn Lynch rushed for career highs of 194 yards and three touchdowns, and DeSean Jackson caught two scoring passes before California's...
LAS VEGAS — Marshawn Lynch rushed for career highs of 194 yards and three touchdowns, and DeSean Jackson caught two scoring passes before California’s defense held off Brigham Young for a 35-28 victory in the Las Vegas Bowl on Thursday night.
Steve Levy passed for 228 yards in his second career start for the Golden Bears (8-4), who showed off a wealth of talent that is coming back in 2006. The Pac-10 school needed every bit of it to hold off BYU’s fourth-quarter comeback in a high-octane game featuring 915 total yards.
Cal took a 21-point lead into the final quarter after Lynch’s 35-yard scoring run and Jackson’s exceptional 22-yard diving touchdown catch in the third. But BYU quarterback John Beck responded with scoring passes to Jonny Harline and Todd Watkins, whose 9-yard grab with 5:35 left reduced Cal’s lead to seven points.
The Bears improbably attempted a 50-yard field goal with 2:20 to play, and Tom Schneider’s kick was well short.
But the Cougars moved a mere 7 yards before Beck’s arm was hit by Cal lineman Phillip Mbakogu, and Daymeion Hughes intercepted the wobbling pass to seal the Bears’ second bowl victory in three postseason trips under coach Jeff Tedford.
“It was great to see a reflection of how much we’ve improved with this young team,” Tedford said. “This effort was typical of our team. It doesn’t surprise me.”
Beck set Las Vegas Bowl records in BYU’s spread offense, going 35 of 53 for 352 yards and three TDs. In their first bowl game in four years, the Cougars (6-6) mounted three scoring drives longer than 90 yards and moved the ball consistently.
But the Bears’ stars were the difference. Jackson capped his impressive freshman season with six catches for 130 yards, including a 42-yard romp through the BYU secondary three seconds before halftime, while Lynch had scoring runs of 3, 23 and 35 yards along with a handful of jaw-dropping second-effort rushes.
Lynch scored his 23-yarder even though one of his shoes was untied.
Nathan Meikle caught 12 passes for 93 yards for BYU, which hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1996 season. But the season was a success for the once-proud Cougars, who got back to the postseason for first-year coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Some observers expected Lynch to dominate the Pac-10 this season after averaging 8.8 yards per carry as J.J. Arrington’s backup in 2004. Lynch was undeniably good, finishing the regular season with 1,052 yards, but missed two games with a broken finger and was benched during another for fumbling twice.
Navy takes Poinsettia
SAN DIEGO (AP)– On the same field where Barry Sanders couldn’t be stopped 17 years earlier, 5-foot-6 Reggie Campbell of Navy claimed his share of bowl lore. Campbell tied the NCAA bowl record with five touchdowns and had 290 all-purpose yards, leading the Midshipmen to a 51-30 win over Colorado State in the Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium.
Campbell had touchdown catches of 55 and 34 yards, and scoring runs of 22, 2 and 21 yards.
Sanders scored five touchdowns and ran for 222 yards in the 1988 Holiday Bowl, leading Oklahoma State to a 62-14 win over Wyoming at what was then Jack Murphy Stadium. Sanders won the Heisman Trophy that year.
Other players with five TDs in a bowl game were Michigan’s Neil Snow in the 1902 Rose Bowl, San Jose State’s Sheldon Canley in the 1990 California Bowl and Steven Jackson of Oregon State in the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl.
Navy (8-4) rushed for 467 yards against the Rams (6-6).
• Georgia wide receiver Sean Bailey will miss the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl against West Virginia after injuring his right knee during practice Tuesday. Surgery is scheduled for next month.
• Offensive lineman Andree Tyree was suspended by Ohio State for allegedly violating team rules and will not play against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.
• Rutgers coach Greg Schiano agreed to a seven-year contract extension, days before the Scarlet Knights play in their first bowl game in 27 years. The deal will keep Schiano, 39, at Rutgers through the 2012 season.
Rutgers plays Arizona State in Tuesday’s Insight Bowl.
• Josh Heupel, who led Oklahoma to the national championship in the 2000 season, returned to the Sooners as the team’s quarterbacks coach.
Heupel, the 2000 Associated Press player of the year, fills a position opened when offensive coordinator Chuck Long became the coach at San Diego State last week. The Sooners named Kevin Wilson as Long’s replacement at offensive coordinator, leaving an opening at quarterbacks coach, a position also held by Long.
Heupel was Arizona’s tight-ends coach last season.
• Jim Reid was hired as the new coach at Virginia Military Institute, taking over a program coming off a 3-8 season. Reid signed a five-year contract to coach the Keydets. Financial terms were not released.
Reid, 55, was the coach at Richmond for nine seasons before leaving in 2003 to serve as defensive-line coach at Syracuse. He spent last season as an assistant at Bucknell.
Reid succeeds Cal McCombs, who was let go Dec. 5 after going 19-60 over seven seasons. “I accept the challenge to elevate the football program to the VMI standard of excellence,” Reid said in a statement.