Following a Miami fumble near its own line, Anthony Miller scored the winning touchdown with his first career catch in California’s 24-17 victory in college football’s Emerald Bowl on Saturday.
Jahvid Best rushed for a bowl-record 186 yards and two touchdowns, yet the Golden Bears still needed a big defensive play and an unlikely hero to hold off the Hurricanes in front of a pro-California 42,268-strong crowd at the San Francisco Giants’ waterfront ballpark.
Miami quarterback Jacory Harris played well in his second career start, going 25-of-41 for 194 yards and two touchdowns while replacing the suspended Robert Marve. But his fumble in Zach Follett’s tackle with 3:28 left cost the Hurricanes in their first bowl game under coach Randy Shannon.
Nate Longshore shook off a dismal 10-for-21 performance in his final college game with that sharp scoring pass to Miller for Cal.
The Golden Bears won for the fifth time in a school-record six consecutive bowl appearances under coach Jeff Tedford.
Meanwhile, in the Meineke Bowl West Virginia beat North Carolina 31-30 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
West Virginia quarterback Pat White threw for 332 yards including a winning 20-yard touchdown pass to Alric Arnett to end his college career with a perfect 4-0 record in bowl games.
White was voted MVP of a bowl for the third straight year, and ended a disappointing season on a positive note by helping West Virginia overcome Hakeem Nicks’ big day for North Carolina.
Nicks caught eight passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns for the Tar Heels but T.J. Yates was intercepted by Pat Lazear with less than two minutes left to end coach Butch Davis’ hopes of a bowl win in his second year at North Carolina.
Instead, it was a sweet ending to a tumultuous season for first-year West Virginia coach Bill Stewart.
Entering the season as prohibitive favorite to win the Big East, the Mountaineers started 1-2.
They recovered to win five straight, only to go 2-2 over their final four games to end their BCS bowl hopes.
But White made sure they went out a winner, again. He completed 26 of 32 passes and threw one interception. College football’s all-time leading rushing quarterback added 55 more yards on the ground to finish with 4,480.