No. 8 Cal Pulls Away from Gophers, 35-21

A fast Cal 14-0 start on the Jahvid Best train quickly slowed after the first quarter to a 21-21 deadlock well into the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the 8th ranked Bears showed the grit lacking last season, behind Best's career-high five rushing touchdowns, pulling away with 35-21 victory on Saturday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium. Best rushed for 131 yards on 26 carries…

Jahvid Best rushed for two touchdowns and the California defense intercepted Minnesota QB Adam Weber three times in the fourth quarter as the Bears pulled away from the Gophers.

Best, who tied a modern day Cal record with five rushing touchdowns, gained only 17 yards in the second half but Kevin Riley made two key throws and Anthony Miller made one big catch down the stretch. Riley finished 16-of-25 for 252 yards on the afternoon.

After three consecutive three-and-outs to start the second half, Riley hit Jeremy Ross for 35 yards on 3rd-and-16. He would hit Ross again lofting a pass for 31 yards inside the Gopher 2 setting up Best's fourth touchdown run.

After taking over off a Mike Mohamed interception at the Gopher 44, Riley converted a key 4th-and-1 with a QB keep. It set up the pass to Miller. Reaching high with one hand, Miller secured the ball for a 23-yard gain. However, the play was reviewed, as it appeared possession was not established before he hit the ground but the play stood setting up first-and-goal at the eight. Best capped the drive with his fifth touchdown from three yards out on third down.

Minnesota tied the game at 21 when WR Adam Decker hit backup QB MarQueis Gray for a seven-yard touchdown pass with :29 remaining in the third quarter.

The drive before was the most productive for Minnesota. Starting at their 20, the Gophers moved the ball to the Cal 19 on nine plays. But Mychal Kendricks ball jarring hit on Hayo Carpenter and subsequent recovery ended any chance at points.

Cal jumped out to a very quick start scoring on their first two possessions in the first quarter.

Running on seven of eight plays to start the game, Riley faked end-around to Ross and handed the ball to 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.

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 setting up first-and-goal at 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.

Minnesota would answer with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Weber to 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.

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.

Two penalties for kick-catch interference and a helmet-to-helmet 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.

First Half Report

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