BERKELEY, Calif. — Kevin Riley threw for touchdowns on his only three passes of the first quarter, Jahvid Best scored three touchdowns and California routed Washington State 49-17 Saturday.
Riley connected with Best, Marvin Jones and Shane Vereen as the Golden Bears (5-2, 2-2 Pac-10) scored 28 points on its first 11 offensive plays to break out to the early lead and cruise to the win.
Jeremy Ross scored on a 76-yard punt return, and Best ran for 159 yards and two scores on 13 carries to help Cal win for the second straight week following two blowout losses to Oregon and Southern California. The Bears are averaging 48 points in their victories but failed to score a touchdown in the two losses.
The Cougars (1-6, 0-5) gained 299 yards in the first half and finished with a season-high 440. The Cal defense allowed at least 400 yards for the fourth straight game despite facing a freshman quarterback in Jeff Tuel.
Tuel had his best game yet in his third straight start, getting much more time than he did the previous game when the Cougars allowed 12 sacks against Arizona State. He completed 28 of 42 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns.
Cal picked up where it left off last year against Washington State when the Bears won 66-3 in Pullman, Wash. Ross returned the opening kickoff 54 yards. Two plays later, Best went in motion and ran past cornerback Brandon Jones to catch a 27-yard TD pass from Riley.
Riley added a 37-yard TD pass to Jones on the next possession, the third TD in the past two weeks for that duo, and a 21-yard screen pass to Vereen for a touchdown late in the quarter that made it 28-3. Best also scored on a 61-yard run early in the second quarter to make it 35-3.
But instead of another blowout, Cal’s porous defense allowed the Cougars back into the game. Tuel threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Forzani, who beat backup cornerback Bryant Nnabuife, and then a 19-yarder to Gino Simone in the final minute of the half to make it 35-17.
Riley’s 61-yard pass to Ross in the third quarter set up Best’s third touchdown, a 2-yard run. Vereen added a 7-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Riley finished 12 for 18 for 229 yards, three touchdowns and his second interception of the season.