Rodgers Golden Performance Leads Bears To Bowl Victory
Dec. 26, 2003
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX - After 98 points and 1,081 yards of offense, the wildestInsight Bowl came down to a 35-yard field goal try by a kicker who had missedfive in a row.
Tyler Fredrickson made the final kick of his Cal career as time expired togive the Bears a 52-49 victory over Virginia Tech on Friday night.
'Kickers have to have a short memory. That's a little mantra,' the seniorsaid. 'You put that aside, and you go out and do your job.'
Fredrickson made just 15 of 30 field goal attempts this season, but he knowswhat it's like to hit the big ones. His 38-yarder beat Southern California34-31 in triple overtime on Sept. 27, the top-ranked Trojans' lone loss.
Cal's Aaron Rodgers and Virginia Tech's Bryan Randall each flirted with 400yards passing in an aerial duel that saw both teams rally from 14-pointdeficits.
Rodgers, a sophomore who didn't start until the fifth game, was 27-of-35 for394 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for two scores and was named thegame's offensive MVP.
Randall was 24-for-34 for 398 yards and tied an Insight Bowl record withfour TD passes. He also ran for a score.
Virginia Tech's Carter Warley - 12-for-15 going into the contest, missedfield goals of 40, 45 and 29 yards.
'I feel for Carter Warley,' Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said, 'agreat kicker that just had an awful night.'
Junior Kevin Jones, in his final game for the Hokies because he's leavingfor the NFL, rushed for 153 yards on 16 carries, including an 11-yardtouchdown.
'I was pretty emotional,' Jones said. 'I just went out there and gave itmy all.'
Chris Lyman, starting in place of injured Cal star Geoff McArthur, caughtfive passes for 149 yards, including a 33-yarder for a touchdown. He had just107 yards receiving for the entire season entering the game.
The Golden Bears (8-6), in their first bowl game since 1996, scored sixconsecutive touchdowns after falling behind 21-7 in the first quarter.
'We could have folded,' second-year Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. 'Butyou're never going to find that in this team.'
Rodgers, 15-for-17 for 245 yards in the second half, scored on an 8-yardoption play to put Cal up 42-28 with 48 seconds left in the third quarter.
'They didn't respect us before the game, but after we put up 52 points Ithink they know what we were all about,'
- QB Aaron Rodgers
'They didn't respect us before the game, but after we put up 52 points Ithink they know what we were all about,' Rodgers said. 'We knew if we justhung around that we were going to start making big plays.'
Virginia Tech (8-5) came back, though, and DeAngelo Hall reversed his fieldfor a spectacular 52-yard punt return that tied the game at 49-49 with 3:11remaining. After the game, Hall, a junior, said he will enter the NFL draft.
There were no turnovers in the game, but Rodgers almost committed adisastrous one when he was sacked at the Bears' 29 by Kevin Lewis and fumbled.But Cal's Chris Murphy recovered and the Golden Bears moved downfield for thewinning field goal.
The winning drive came after Brandon Pace's kickoff went out of bounds andgave Cal the ball on the 35. Fredrickson warmed up as he watched his teammatesmove downfield.
'I was hoping that we'd put six on the board,' he said, 'then when I sawthe clock click down to about 6 seconds, I realized `Here we go again. 'SC andthen this.''
Hokies backup quarterback Marcus Vick, younger brother of Michael, hadn'tcaught a pass all season. But he caught four against Cal, including a 36-yardtouchdown pass in the first half.
Virginia Tech, moving from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conferencenext season, lost five of its last seven games after being ranked as high asNo. 3.
The Hokies' Ernest Wilford caught eight passes for 110 yards to break theschool record for career receptions with 128. The old mark was 121 by AntonioFreeman (1991-94).
Rodgers, despite his late start, surpassed Kyle Boller for second in seasonpassing yardage with 2,903. Rodgers' fifth 300-yard passing game this seasonalso tied a school record.
California, which won five of its last six, trailed 28-21 at halftime butoutscored the Hokies 21-0 in the third quarter.
Rodgers completed his first 12 passes in the second half for 194 yards.
The Bears took the lead 35-28 with a three-play, 66-yard drive that lastedjust 52 seconds. Rodgers threw 42 yards to Lyman and 24 yards to Burl Toler toset up Adimchinobe Echemandu's 9-yard touchdown run with 5:59 left in the thirdquarter.
The teams combined for 537 yards - 330 by the Hokies - and 49 points in thefirst half.
California took the opening kickoff and went 79 yards in nine plays, withRodgers sneaking over from the 1.
The Hokies, though, burned the Bears for touchdowns on their next threepossessions.
The crowd of 42,364 - 551 shy of capacity - was the largest for the gamesince it moved to Bank One Ballpark in 2000.
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