Todd Watkins scores on a 9-yard pass to cut the Cal lead to just seven points late in the fourth quarter. Watkins finished the night with five receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
LAS VEGAS -- After trailing by 21 points in the fourth quarter, BYU rallied but came up on the short end in the Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl Thursday night, losing to California, 35-28, in front of a bowl record 40,053 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
"Cal played an excellent game today and they deserved to win," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "The end result is we played good enough to lose by seven. The disappointing aspect is it was a loss. The positive aspect is that we exhibited resiliency. We know we could have won that game. We fell short for a number of reasons, but I believe this was a solid beginning to what's to come for this program. And I look forward to getting right back to it after Christmas."
Cal's Marshawn Lynch ran for 194 yards on 24 carries and had three touchdowns to lead the Golden Bears, while DeSean Jackson added six receptions for a game-high 130 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's fast, athletic and talented," Mendenhall said of Lynch.
BYU's John Beck set three Las Vegas Bowl records during the game with 35 completions, 53 attempts and 353 yards passing. He also had three touchdown passes.
Nathan Meikle lead all BYU receivers with 12 receptions for 93 yards. Senior receiver Todd Watkins also added 93 yards on five receptions, including a nine-yard touchdown to cut the California lead to just seven points with 5:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"I want to give BYU a lot of credit," California head coach Jeff Tedford said. "Their offense did a good job of spreading the field. They played very well and they have a physical defense."
After starting on the 35 yard line following the opening kickoff that went out of bounds, Cal opened its first possession with a 22-yard pass from Steve Levy to Marshawn Lynch. BYU helped the Golden Bears down the field by committing two penalties inside their own 20 yard line and after eight plays Cal brought the drive full circle with a three-yard touchdown run by Lynch.
The Cougars couldn't get things going on offense, and they punted out of their first possession. However, Cal returned the favor from the first drive with a roughing the kicker penalty and gave BYU a fresh set of downs. The offense failed to capitalize and punted away again.
Following a defensive stop, the Cougars took over on their own eight yard line and took control of the clock as well. BYU ate up 6:04 as they marched 92 yards in 15 plays and capped off the drive with a 19 yard touchdown pass from John Beck to Curtis Brown to knot the score at seven. The touchdown was Brown's 16th of the year, the second most touchdowns scored by a player in a season in BYU history. It was the second longest scoring drive for the Cougars in terms of yardage and plays on the season.
Cal didn't take nearly as much time to answer back, going 52 yards on four plays in 2:08 on the subsequent drive. The Bears used another Cougar defensive penalty, pass interference on Kayle Buchanan, to put them deep into BYU territory. On the next play, Lynch crossed the goal line for the second time in the game on a 23-yard touchdown scamper to put the Golden Bears on top 14-7.
After a Beck interception, which was his first in 157 attempts and 16 quarters of play, and two defensive stops by BYU, the Cougars took over on their own 9 yard line with 3:53 remaining in the half. This time BYU went a long way in a short amount of time, 91 yards on seven plays, courtesy of a 52-yard bomb from Beck to Todd Watkins. Three plays later the Cougars tied the score 14-14 on a three yard run by Fahu Tahi with :38 to go in the first frame.
Had the score stayed the same, it would have been the first time this season the Cougars went into the locker room with the scored tied, but Cal had other plans. They retaliated quickly, taking only 27 seconds and three plays to go 58 yards, topped off by a 42 yard Steve Levy to DeSean Jackson touchdown pass. Cal led at the break 21-14.
Coming out of intermission, Cal stopped BYU cold and then put together another quick strike on offense. The Bears marched 65 yards in 2:01 behind 45 rushing yards on three carries, including a 35-yard touchdown by Lynch to put Cal up 28-14. The touchdown was Lynch's third of the game.
The Bears stopped the Cougars again and continued the quick-strike trend. Starting the possession on its own four yard line, Cal pushed the ball down the field in 2:55 with three plays of 20 yards or more. They completed the drive on the second Levy to Jackson hook-up of the night, a 22-yard diving catch in the back corner of the endzone which put them up 35-14.
BYU finally got the ball rolling as the third quarter drew to a close, and in the opening minute of the fourth quarter got on the board again. Jonny Harline caught a screen pass in the flat and ran seven yards to the endzone, bringing the Cougars within 35-21 with 14:14 to go in regulation.
The defense followed suit for the Cougars, forcing Cal to punt and giving the ball back to the Cougar offense with sufficient time left on the clock. BYU had to start from its own four yard-line, which was no problem, as they had already engineered scoring drives of 91 and 94 yards on the night. The offense made its way down the field, using two catches by Nathan Meikle for 31 yards, two personal fouls on Cal and two fourth down conversions to its advantage. The second fourth-down conversion came on fourth-and-nine from the nine yard line, when Beck connected with Todd Watkins for a touchdown, bringing the Cougars within seven points at 35-28.
Cal drove down the field and faced fourth-and-six with 2:23 remaining. Instead of punting the ball, Cal head coach Jeff Tedford decided to try a 50-yard field goal. Tom Schneider's kick fell considerably short of the uprights, and with 2:20 remaining in the game BYU took over on its own 40 yard line. However, BYU's hopes of a comeback died when Beck was hit by Phillip Mbakogu while attempting to throw to Watkins. The pass was intercepted by Daymeion Hughes. The turnover allowed Cal's offense to take the field, run out the clock and leave with a 35-28 victory and the Las Vegas Bowl trophy.
"I thought we were going to win it. We've been in two-minute drives, and stuff happens. It didn't go our way this time."
With the loss, the Cougars finished the season with a 6-6 record, while the Golden Bears improved to 8-4.
"We appreciate the hospitality we have been shown this week," Mendenhall said. "This has been a great experience and I want to thank the Pioneer PureVision Bowl for a great week. We have every intention to return next year."
Box Score (Final)
Brigham Young vs CAL (Dec 22, 2005 at Las Vegas, Nev.)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
Brigham Young....... 0 14 0 14 - 28 Record: (6-6)
CAL................. 7 14 14 0 - 35 Record: (8-4)
1st 11:56 CAL - Lynch, Marshawn 3 yd run (Schneider, Tom kick), 8-65 3:04, BYU
0 - CAL 7
2nd 14:16 BYU - BROWN, Curtis 19 yd pass from BECK, John (MCLAUGHLIN, Jar
kick), 15-92 6:04, BYU 7 - CAL 7
12:00 CAL - Lynch, Marshawn 23 yd run (Schneider, Tom kick), 4-52 2:08,
BYU 7 - CAL 14
00:38 BYU - TAHI, Naufahu 3 yd run (MCLAUGHLIN, Jar kick), 7-91 4:23, BYU
14 - CAL 14
00:03 CAL - Jackson, DeSean 42 yd pass from Levy, Steve (Schneider, Tom
kick), 3-58 0:27, BYU 14 - CAL 21
3rd 10:47 CAL - Lynch, Marshawn 35 yd run (Schneider, Tom kick), 5-65 2:01,
BYU 14 - CAL 28
03:48 CAL - Jackson, DeSean 22 yd pass from Levy, Steve (Schneider, Tom
kick), 6-96 2:55, BYU 14 - CAL 35
4th 14:14 BYU - HARLINE, Jonny 7 yd pass from BECK, John (MCLAUGHLIN, Jar
kick), 12-74 4:28, BYU 21 - CAL 35
05:35 BYU - WATKINS, Todd 9 yd pass from BECK, John (MCLAUGHLIN, Jar
kick), 14-96 4:24, BYU 28 - CAL 35
FIRST DOWNS................... 27 26
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 27-94 43-241
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 352 228
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 53-35-2 23-16-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 80-446 66-469
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 1-3 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 1-24 3-85
Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 2-25
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 4-41.8 4-41.2
Fumbles-Lost.................. 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards............... 12-103 9-85
Possession Time............... 33:07 26:53
Third-Down Conversions........ 6 of 14 5 of 11
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 3 of 3 0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 4-4 1-1
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-5 1-5
RUSHING: Brigham Young-BECK, John 7-42; BROWN, Curtis 12-28; TAHI, Naufahu
8-24. CAL-Lynch, Marshawn 24-194; Forsett, Justin 8-37; Jordan, Robert 2-10;
Manderino, C. 2-7; Levy, Steve 4-0; TEAM 3-minus 7.
PASSING: Brigham Young-BECK, John 35-53-2-352. CAL-Levy, Steve 16-23-0-228.
RECEIVING: Brigham Young-MEIKLE, Nathan 12-93; HARLINE, Jonny 7-73; WATKINS,
Todd 5-93; BROWN, Curtis 5-45; ALLEN, Matt 2-31; TAHI, Naufahu 2-9; COATS,
Dan 1-7; ASHWORTH, Luke 1-1. CAL-Jackson, DeSean 6-130; Jordan, Robert 3-15;
Beegun, Eric 2-32; Lynch, Marshawn 2-27; Manderino, C. 2-20; DeSa, Sam 1-4.
INTERCEPTIONS: Brigham Young-None. CAL-Smith, Harrison 1-7; Hughes, D. 1-18.
FUMBLES: Brigham Young-HARLINE, Jonny 1-0. CAL-Forsett, Justin 1-0.
Stadium: Sam Boyd Stadium Attendance: 40053
Kickoff time: 5:00 pm End of Game: 8:49 PM Total elapsed time: 3:49
Officials: Referee: Gil Gelbke; Umpire: Mike Hagan; Linesman: Britt Choate;
Line judge: Rod Pearson; Back judge: Delbert Bell; Field judge: Al Delvento;
Side judge: Tony Lombardo; Scorer: Jim Shaffer;
Temperature: 61 Wind: 0 MPH Weather: Cloudy
SACKS (UA-A): Brigham Young-WALKENHORST, Pa 1-0. CAL-Mbokogu, P. 0-1;
Mebane, Brandon 0-1.
TACKLES (UA-A): Brigham Young-JENSEN, Cameron 4-6; LUETTGERODT, Ju 4-4;
WHITE, Spencer 3-5; ROBINSON, Justi 3-4; BUCHANAN, Kayle 3-2; GABRIEL,
Dustin 3-2; WALKENHORST, Pa 3-2; KEHL, Bryan 2-2; GOOCH, Quinn 2-2; FEULA,
Vince 3-0; HARLINE, Jonny 3-0; TEAM 2-1; STAFFIERI, Mark 2-1; MADDUX, Justin
1-1; LATU, Wayne 1-0; LOVELY, Gary 1-0; MEIKLE, Nathan 0-1; SITAKE, T.J.
0-1; BROWN, Curtis 0-1. CAL-Smith, Harrison 8-5; McCleskey, D. 5-6; Mixon,
Tim 7-1; Bishop, Desmond 6-2; Pimentel, M. 4-3; Foltz, Ryan 3-1; Felder,
Anthony 2-2; Follett, Zack 2-1; Hughes, D. 1-2; Van Hoesen, G. 2-0; Mebane,
Brandon 1-1; DeCoud, Thomas 1-1; Williams, W. 1-1; Mbokogu, P. 0-2; Abd
Allah, F. 1-0; Hampton, B. 1-0; Tafisi, Nu'u 1-0.