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Hokies' late rally falls short

12/27/2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- After 98 points and 1,081 yards of offense, the
wildest Insight Bowl came down to a 35-yard field goal try by a
kicker who had missed five in a row.

Tyler Fredrickson made the final kick of his Cal career as time
expired to give the Bears a 52-49 victory over Virginia Tech on
Friday night.

"Kickers have to have a short memory. That's a little mantra,"
the senior said. "You put that aside, and you go out and do your
job."

Fredrickson made just 15 of 30 field goal attempts this season,
but he knows what it's like to hit the big ones. His 38-yarder beat
Southern California 34-31 in triple overtime Sept. 27, the
top-ranked Trojans' lone loss.

Cal's Aaron Rodgers and Virginia Tech's Bryan Randall each
flirted with 400 yards passing in an aerial duel that saw both
teams rally from 14-point deficits.

Rodgers, a sophomore who didn't start until the fifth game, was
27-of-35 for 394 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for two
TDs and was named the game's offensive MVP.

Randall was 24-for-34 for 398 yards and tied an Insight Bowl
record with four TD passes. He also ran for a touchdown.

Virginia Tech's Carter Warley -- 12-for-15 going into the
contest, missed field goals of 40, 45 and 29 yards.

"I feel for Carter Warley," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer
said, "a great kicker that just had an awful night."

Junior Kevin Jones, in his final game for the Hokies because
he's leaving for the NFL, rushed for 153 yards on 16 carries,
including an 11-yard touchdown.

"I was pretty emotional," Jones said. "I just went out there
and gave it my all."

Chris Lyman, starting in place of injured Cal star Geoff McArthur, caught five passes for 149 yards, including a 33-yarder for a touchdown. He had just 107 yards receiving for the entire season entering the game.

The Golden Bears (8-6), in their first bowl game since 1996,
scored six consecutive touchdowns after falling behind 21-7 in the
first quarter.

"We could have folded," second-year Cal coach Jeff Tedford
said. "But you're never going to find that in this team."

Rodgers, 15-for-17 for 245 yards in the second half, scored on
an 8-yard option play to put Cal up 42-28 with 48 seconds left in
the third quarter.

"They didn't respect us before the game, but after we put up 52
points, I think they know what we were all about," Rodgers said.
"We knew if we just hung around that we were going to start making
big plays."

Virginia Tech (8-5) came back, though, and DeAngelo Hall
reversed his field for a spectacular 52-yard punt return that tied
the score at 49-49 with 3:11 remaining. After the game, Hall, a
junior, said he will enter the NFL draft.

There were no turnovers in the game, but Rodgers almost
committed a disastrous one when he was sacked at the Bears' 29 by
Kevin Lewis and fumbled. However, Cal's Chris Murphy recovered and the
Golden Bears moved downfield for the winning field goal.

The winning drive came after Brandon Pace's kickoff went out of
bounds and gave Cal the ball on the 35. Fredrickson warmed up as he
watched his teammates move downfield.

"I was hoping that we'd put six on the board," he said, "then
when I saw the clock click down to about 6 seconds, I realized
`Here we go again. 'SC and then this.' "

Hokies backup quarterback Marcus Vick, younger brother of
Michael, hadn't caught a pass all season. But he caught four
against Cal, including a 36-yard touchdown pass in the first half.

Virginia Tech, moving from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast
Conference next season, lost five of its last seven games after
being ranked as high as No. 3.

The Hokies' Ernest Wilford caught eight passes for 110 yards to
break the school record for career receptions with 128. The old
mark was 121 by Antonio Freeman (1991-94).

Rodgers, despite his late start, surpassed Kyle Boller for
second in season passing yardage with 2,903. Rodgers' fifth
300-yard passing game this season also tied a school record.

California, which won five of its last six, trailed 28-21 at
halftime but outscored the Hokies 21-0 in the third quarter.

Rodgers completed his first 12 passes in the second half for 194
yards.

The Bears took the lead 35-28 with a three-play, 66-yard drive
that lasted just 52 seconds. Rodgers threw 42 yards to Lyman and 24
yards to Burl Toler to set up Adimchinobe Echemandu's 9-yard
touchdown run with 5:59 left in the third quarter.

The teams combined for 537 yards -- 330 by the Hokies -- and 49
points in the first half.

California took the opening kickoff and went 79 yards in nine
plays, with Rodgers sneaking over from the 1.

The Hokies, though, burned the Bears for touchdowns on their
next three possessions.

The crowd of 42,364 -- 551 shy of capacity -- was the largest for
the game since it moved to Bank One Ballpark in 2000.