San Francisco Zack Follett forced a fumble by Jacory Harris deep in Miami territory with 3:28 left, and Anthony Miller scored the go-ahead touchdown on his first career catch moments later in California’s 24-17 victory in the Emerald Bowl on Saturday night.
Jahvid Best rushed for a bowl-record 186 yards and two touchdowns, yet the Golden Bears (9-4) still needed a big defensive play and an unlikely hero to hold off the Hurricanes (7-6) in front of a Bay Area crowd teeming with screaming Cal fans.
Harris played well in the freshman’s second career start, going 25-of-41 for 194 yards and two TDs 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.
Nate Longshore shook off a dismal 10-for-21 performance in his final college game with that sharp scoring pass to Miller for Cal. The Golden Bears won for the fifth time in a school-record six consecutive bowl appearances under coach Jeff Tedford.
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 while dropping the quarterback from behind on third down. Cameron Jordan recovered and returned it to the Miami 2, where Longshore connected with Miller, a freshman who hardly played this season.