Cal-Minn: First Half Report

Jahvid Best has 114 yards rushing on 13 carries with three touchdowns leading Cal to a 21-14 advantage at the half…

Cal scored on 3-of-7 drives. California punted twice, missed a field a field goal, and took a knee on the four other drives. But for the most part, the Bears dominated the first half on both sides of the ball.

Running on seven of eight plays to start the game, Kevin Riley faked end-around to Jeremy Ross and handed the ball to Jahvid Best who darted up the middle and quickly outraced defenders to the near sideline leaping for the final three yards for the 33-yard touchdown. The run capped an impressive nine-play, 80-yard opening drive.

It was just the beginning.

On Cal's next drive, after stopping Minnesota on a three-and-out, Riley hit a 59-yard long ball to Verran Tucker off play-action to Best to the Minnesota 2. Best added his second score with a two-yard touchdown run after starting the three-play drive with a 24-yard run.

Then Cal hit a speed bump.

Riley was sacked inside his own 20, the ball popped out right into Minnesota LB Lee Campbell's hands. While he couldn't hold on to it, Cal was pushed back, and Riley's third down pass to Jones was overthrown on third down, forcing Cal to punt for the first time.

Minnesota would answer with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Adam Weber to Eric Decker on 3rd-and-6. Weber took a shot on the play from Sean Cattouse, temporarily knocking him out of the game, cutting the lead to 14-7.

With momentum swinging the Gophers way, the Bears showed the mettle that was lacking in 2008. On a 3rd-and-7 from their own 32, Riley found Nyan Boateng for a first down silencing the raucous crowd. But the drive would end on a badly missed 47-yard field goal by true freshman Vince D'Amato.

Then the Bears defense took over. After forcing another three-and-out, Cal took over with 8:23 in the second stanza. Nine plays later, Best rushed for his third touchdown on a 27-yard scamper.

With 1:11 left true freshman Isi Sofele made huge hit a bit too early on punt coverage. The hit was also ruled helmet-to-helmet adding a personal foul to the kick-catch-interference penalty. The penalty gave the Gophers a first down at the Cal 29. Two plays later, Weber hit Decker on a slant-go fade – faking out Darian Hagan – for a 12-yard touchdown with just :31 remaining.

Cal was 5-of-8 on third downs in the first half. The Bears outgained the Gophers 274 to 109 total yards in the first half. But Minnesota's averaging starting position was its 47 while Cal's was its 19.

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