TUCSON, Ariz. – Freshman Keola Antolin ran for 149 yards and three touchdowns, and Arizona rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat No. 25 California 42-27 on Saturday night.
Trailing 24-14 at halftime, the Wildcats blitzed the Golden Bears with four touchdowns in 11:45 of the third quarter.
Arizona (5-2, 3-1 Pac-10) moved into a four-way tie for first in the Pac-10 with Oregon, Oregon State and Southern California – and the sixth-ranked Trojans visit Arizona Stadium next week. The Wildcats beat a ranked team for the sixth time in Mike Stoops’ five seasons at Arizona.
Antolin, a freshman from Las Vegas, was summoned after starter Nic Grigsby fumbled on his first carry, setting up the Golden Bears’ first score.
Antolin had rushed for 66 yards in the first six games. He had 61 at halftime, and as the game wore on it was clear he had supplanted the fumble-prone Grigsby as Arizona’s tailback.
Willie Tuitama threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns, and he threw an interception.
Arizona broke out its rarely worn all-cardinal uniforms, matching the primary color of the Arizona Stadium crowd of 48,372.
Jahvid Best ran for 107 yards and a touchdown in his return after missing one game with a dislocated left elbow. Best, who leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 215.5 yards per game, wore a heavy brace. He did not play in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t immediately known whether he was injured.
Nate Longshore started at quarterback for Cal (4-2, 2-1). Longshore threw for 218 yards and two scores and had an interception before being replaced in the fourth quarter by Kevin Riley, who threw for 97 yards and was intercepted once.
The Golden Bears turned a fumble by Grigsby into an early 7-0 lead. Five plays after safety Marcus Ezeff recovered Grigsby’s fumble at Arizona’s 43, Longshore hit Verran Tucker for a 2-yard touchdown pass.
The Wildcats stormed back on a pair of touchdown runs by Antolin.
The first was a 20-yard burst up the middle to tie it at 7 early in the second quarter.
The second came 88 seconds later, on a bruising 11-yard run that put Arizona ahead 14-7.
The Bears tied it at 14 on Best’s 67-yard run midway through the second quarter. And they made it 21-14 when Longshore hit Cameron Morrah for an 18-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
Down 10 at intermission, Arizona cut the deficit to 24-21 on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Tuitama to Mike Thomas on the opening drive of the second half.
After Cal’s Giorgio Tavecchio hit a 40-yard field goal to put the Bears up 27-21, the Wildcats answered with a seven-play, 77-yard drive.