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December 28, 2006

Cal has a Holiday at the expense of A&M

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SAN DIEGO -Unlike two years ago, the California Golden Bears played like they wanted to be in the Holiday Bowl.

Marshawn Lynch ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns, and the No. 20 Golden Bears' defense played impressively in a 45-10 win over No. 21 Texas A&M on Thursday night. Nate Longshore threw for a touchdown and ran for another, and Lynch's backup, Justin Forsett, ran for 124 yards and one score.

Cal (10-3) put an emphatic final touch to its second 10-win season in three years. The Golden Bears had lost to Arizona and Southern California in disheartening fashion before beating rival Stanford and then the Aggies (9-4).

In 2004, Cal was in position to end its long Rose Bowl drought but was leapfrogged in the final Bowl Championship Series standings by Texas. Although the fourth-ranked Golden Bears claimed not to be bothered by the snub, they couldn't even hang with No. 23 Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl and were humiliated 45-31.

This trip to San Diego turned out a lot better.

Lynch, the Pac-10 offensive player of the year, scored on a 2-yard run in the second quarter to give Cal a 14-7 lead. While Longshore lined up at wide receiver, Lynch was in the shotgun formation, took the snap and bulled into the end zone.

Lynch scored on a 1-yard run in the third, leaping over the line and fumbling as he came down in the end zone. The Aggies recovered and referee John O'Neill signaled first down for Texas A&M, then said the play was being reviewed. Replay official Jim Augustyn ruled that Lynch had possession when he broke the plane of the end zone, making it 21-10 Cal.

While the Golden Bears moved up and down the field, their defense came up big, too.

Jorvorskie Lane, Texas A&M's 274-pound tailback, wasn't much of a factor after tying a 79-year-old school record with 19 rushing touchdowns this year. He was held to 36 yards and no touchdowns on seven carries.

Longshore scored on a 1-yard keeper to tie the game at 7 in the first quarter, eight plays after Texas A&M's Stephen McGee threw a 19-yard TD pass to Chad Schroeder.

Longshore also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins late in the third quarter. He finished 19-of-24 for 235 yards.

Texas A&M gambled a few times too many. After Bryce Reed gained 7 yards on a fake punt in the first quarter, the drive bogged down and the Aggies went for it on fourth-and-8 from the Cal 32. McGee was sacked by Nu'u Tafisi.

Lynch scored his first TD five plays later.

His second touchdown was set up when Texas A&M's Justin Brantly shanked a punt out of bounds for no gain at the Aggies' 41. Lynch scored four plays later.

The Aggies failed to convert on another fourth-down play in the fourth quarter.

Cal's Eddie Young intercepted Aggies backup quarterback Ty Branyon with 2:25 left, setting up a 3-yard score by freshman tailback Bryan Schutte.

For more coverage of the California Golden Bears, visit BearTerritory.com; For more on the Texas A&M Aggies, visit Websider.com.

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