Kevin Riley threw three touchdown passes, as Cal stormed back from a 21-point deficit to down Air Force, 42-36, in the Armed Forces Bowl. Justin Forsett rushed 23 times for 140 yards with a pair of scores for California (7-6), which started the year with five straight wins but dropped six of its last seven regular-season contests. Riley, sharing time with Nate Longshore under center, finished 16-of-19 for 269 yards. Robert Jordan paced the receiving corps with six grabs for 148 yards and a touchdown. Jordan, DeSean Jackson and Thomas DeCoud were all benched for the first quarter for violations of team rules. The team fell behind 7-0 in that span, and 21-0 early in the second quarter.
Air Force suffered a major blow to its offensive attack when quarterback Shaun Carney went down with a right knee injury late in the third quarter. Before leaving Carney threw for a touchdown and rushed 15 times for 108 yards with a score. His replacement, Shea Smith, went just 4-of-12 for 45 yards for the Falcons (9-4), who got 101 yards rushing and a TD from Jim Ollis. Air Force appeared to be in control after establishing a 21-0 second-quarter lead. Riley responded with a pair of touchdown passes, however -- a 40-yarder to Jackson and a five-yard strike to Lavelle Hawkins moments later -- to pull within seven by the break.
The Falcons pushed the lead to 24-14 early in the third on a 29-yard Ryan Harrison field goal, but Riley countered with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jordan that pulled the Golden Bears within three.
Carney led his team right back down the field, but was knocked out when his right leg was twisted awkwardly as he was tackled near the goal line. The Falcons settled for a field goal after Carney was assisted off the field for a 27-21 edge. Cal went ahead moments later following a one-yard run by Forsett, who also broke off a 21-yard run early in the fourth to put his team up 35-27. Harrison booted a 47-yard field goal to move his team within five, but Riley found pay dirt from a yard out on the following drive for a 42-30 Cal lead. Chad Hall ran in from four yards out with 2:23 remaining to pull Air Force within a touchdown, but that was as close as the Falcons would get.
The Falcons struck on their first possession, as Ollis broke off a 34-yard run to move his team into striking distance before Carney capped the drive with a one-yard TD run moments later. Air Force scored again early in the second, assuming a 14-0 lead following a seven-yard touchdown pass from Carney to Travis Dekker. The ensuing kickoff deflected off a member of the Cal return unit, and was recovered by Air Force. Five plays later, Ollis scampered in from eight yards out to make it 21-0.
Cal leads the all-time series against the Falcons by a count of 6-2, blowing out the academy in the most recent encounter back in 2004 by a score of 56-14 in Colorado...With respect to this particular bowl, which was also known as the Fort Worth Bowl for the first three years, Utah posted a 25-13 win over Tulsa in last year's event.