Jahvid Best led California's charge with 277 all-purpose yards including 111 of them on the ground. However, backup Shane Vereen secured the victory with his long touchdown run late in the game. The Bears never trailed as they amassed 468 yards of total offense.
Michigan State came in expecting to control the game with their vaunted running game led by All-American candidate Javon Ringer. But it was the passing game that kept the Spartans in the game. Mark Dell finished with 201 yards receiving on nine receptions, including a 29-yard score with 3:09 left in the game that cut the Bears' 14-point lead in half.
Brian Hoyer completed just 41% of his passes but threw for 322 yards. It was not enough as Cal held Ringer in check for the most part. He was held to 80 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns and his longest gain was only 10 yards.
On the flip side, Kevin Riley secured his starting job after making consistently making plays and limiting his mistakes. He completed 17 of 24 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly, no turnovers. As promised by Head Coach Jeff Tedford, both quarterbacks received playing time.
Nate Longshore entered the game in the second quarter. After connecting with Cameron Morrah on a 50-yard pass on his first attempt and starting three for three for 62 yards, he threw two interceptions on his next two passes. The final one went for 31 yards the other way for a Spartan touchdown. Longshore did not take another snap.
Special team plays were the catalyst for swinging the momentum back and forth between Cal and MSU. From a botched snap to blocked punt to a missed field goal, most of the special team moments played a significant part in the flow of the game.
Freshman punter Bryan Anger had a stellar day punting the ball; however, he was on the receiving end of a high snap and subsequent fumble that led to Spartan score early in the third quarter cutting the lead to 17-14. He redeemed himself later in the quarter when he put the ball at the MSU three-yard line. The punt pinned the Spartans deep in their own territory and trailing by 10 points.
MSU mounted its best drive of the game despite the poor field position, only to be forced to punt after reaching Bear territory. However, with 11:54 to go in the game, a questionable roughing-the-kicker penalty against true freshman linebacker Mychal Kendricks gave MSU renewed life. Ringer scored his second touchdown of the game 1:09 later cutting Cal's lead to 24-21 after the PAT. The touchdown capped the remarkable 97-yard drive.
But the Bears would answer. With just under six minutes to play in the game, on third and 13, Riley made the play of the game. With two Spartan defenders wrapped around him, he completed a 26-yard pass to Morrah to the MSU 23. Three plays later Riley hit Will Ta'ufo'ou on play action for his second touchdown pass of the night.
Darian Hagen looked to have intercepted Hoyer on the next series with 5:30 left in the game. However, the play was ruled a simultaneous catch giving possession to Dell. Tedford challenged the play, but it stood as called costing the Bears a timeout. The catch gave the Spartans a first down at the Cal 23. The Bears' defense held their ground forcing MSU to settle for a field goal. Vereen's 81-yard touchdown run proved to be the game winner. He finished with 101 yards on the night.
The scoring began after Brett Johnson blocked an Aaron Bates punt in the first quarter and Bryant Nnabuife scooped up the loose ball for the five-yard touchdown return giving Cal the early 7-0 lead. Morrah led the Bears with five receptions and 93 receiving yards with one touchdown. Sean Young had four receptions for 81 yards.
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