Victory Over Southern Miss Raises Rose Bowl Hopes
Dec. 5, 2004
By JOEDY McCREARY
AP Sports Writer
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - J.J. Arrington ran for 261 yards, Aaron Rodgersthrew two touchdown passes and No. 4 California scored on a bizarrespecial-teams play in a 26-16 win over Southern Mississippi on Saturday night.
Arrington, the nation's fourth-leading rusher, surpassed the 100-yard markfor the school-record 11th straight game for the Golden Bears (10-1), who learnSunday if the closer-than-expected victory will result in their first Rose Bowlbid since 1959.
The Bears were fourth in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings,barely ahead of Texas. They need to stay ahead of the Longhorns to earn a tripto Pasadena, Calif.
Rodgers was 15-for-28 for 223 yards for Cal, which had 546 total yards andfinished with 10 regular-season wins for the first time since 1949.
Southern Miss, a 24-point underdog, pulled to 17-16 on Dustin Almond's1-yard touchdown run with 5:56 to play.
But Darren McCaleb's potential game-tying extra-point attempt was blocked byThomas DeCoud. Wendell Hunter returned it 85 yards for two points, giving Cal a19-16 lead.
Arrington then ran 56 yards up the middle to set up Marshawn Lynch'sgame-sealing 12-yard touchdown run with 4:51 left.
Almond threw for a career-high 304 yards on 17 of 37 passing for SouthernMiss (6-5), which plays North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 14.
Cal took the lead for good with touchdowns on consecutive second-quarterpossessions.
Rodgers tied it at 7 on his 36-yard pass to Geoff McArthur, who ran throughone tackle and sidestepped another on his way to the end zone.
The Golden Bears then forced a three-and-out, got the ball back and scoredagain. Rodgers' 8-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Cross with 6:25 left in thehalf gave Cal a 14-7 lead.
McArthur, Cal's top receiver, had six catches for 145 yards but suffered anapparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter. The extent of the injury wasnot immediately known.
McCaleb's 33-yard field goal in the third quarter pulled Southern Miss to14-10. Tom Schneider's 24-yard field goal on Cal's ensuing possession returnedthe lead to seven.
Southern Miss took an early 7-0 lead on a flea-flicker. Almond took thepitch back from Sherron Moore and hit Anthony Perine over the middle for the40-yard TD.
Perine had four receptions for 101 yards.
The game, originally scheduled for Sept. 16, was pushed back nearly threemonths when Hurricane Ivan threatened the Gulf Coast. Cal beat Southern Missfor the second straight year.