The redshirt freshman comes off the bench to throw three TD passes and lift the Bears to victory
FORT WORTH, Texas - Beaverton High graduate Kevin Riley made his mark on college football's biggest stage on Monday.
Riley, a redshirt freshman quarterback for the California Bears football team, came off the bench to throw three touchdowns and lead Cal to a 42-36 come-from-behind victory over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl on Monday. Riley also ran for a TD and won MVP honors for the game.
Ranked No. 2 in the nation in October before losing six of seven games, California's comeback provided its sixth straight winning season at 7-6. And it also provided Riley with a chance to showcase his skills in a nationally televised game - and showcase them he did.
With the Bears trailing 21-0 early in the second quarter, Riley entered the game in relief of starter Nate Longshore and immediately made his presence felt. Riley was 16-for-19 passing for 269 yards and three TDs and also ran for a score, a 1-yarder that clinched the victory with 6 minutes, 13 seconds left in the game.
Riley came in on the same series as DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan, both starting wide receivers who began the game on the bench for disciplinary reasons. The trio's impact was immediate, with Cal putting together a four-play, 70-yard drive capped by Riley's 40-yard TD pass to Jackson.
'He kind of had the hot hand,' Cal coach Jeff Tedford said of Riley on the Bears' website. 'We felt like he had a pretty good feel for it, so we just left him in.'
Air Force was then forced to punt for the first time, and the Bears drove 70 yards in 10 plays, this time moving within 21-14 on Riley's 5-yard pass to Lavelle Hawkins.
And the hits just kept coming for Riley and the Bears. After Air Force stretched its lead to 24-14, Riley hit Jordan with an 18-yard TD pass, and Cal took its first lead on its next series after Riley set up Justin Forsett's scoring run with a 52-yard throw to Jordan.
Forsett scored again in the fourth for Cal, and Riley sealed the deal when he capped a 73-yard scoring march with his 1-yard touchdown run.
Cal last had six straight winning seasons from 1947-52. The latest streak, which includes five consecutive bowl appearances for the first time in school history, has come since Tedford took over a team coming off a 1-10 season.