BERKELEY, Calif. — Chris Polk scored on a 1-yard run as time expired, and Washington denied California bowl eligibility while keeping its own postseason hopes alive with a thrilling 16-13 victory Saturday.
Quarterback Jake Locker, who threw an earlier 80-yard touchdown pass, was stopped on consecutive sneak attempts on second and third down from the 1 before Polk came through for the Huskies. The winning touchdown set of a celebratory pileup behind the end zone, and the players danced near their contingent of fans well after the game ended.
Washington (5-6, 4-4 Pac-10) still needs a victory in next weekend’s Apple Cup rivalry game at Washington State to reach its first bowl since 2002.
Cal (5-7, 3-6), playing in a downpour for much of the final game at Memorial Stadium before the 87-year-old venue undergoes a major renovation, lost its third straight and couldn’t rebound from an embarrassing rout by rival Stanford in last week’s Big Game. The Golden Bears’ postseason streak is over after a seven-year run.
Locker — still playing with a broken rib — went 17 for 27 for 237 yards and was sacked three times. He set up the winning score with a 46-yard completion to a diving Jermaine Kearse.
Locker returned for his senior season to get Washington back to a bowl game, and thanks to his strong finish, the Huskies still have a shot to do it.
Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a go-ahead 47-yard field goal with 10:53 left for Cal after Cameron Jordan scooped up Locker’s fumble and ran it 20 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter for the Bears, who were hurt by seven penalties for 74 yards.
Cal, which shut out an opponent in a first half for the fifth time this season, won’t be in the postseason for the first time since 2002, coach Jeff Tedford’s first season.
The second half was in stark contract to the lackluster, back-and-forth first two quarters that featured more mistakes than memorable plays. Tavecchio’s career-best 53-yard field goal as the first half expired put Cal ahead 3-0. It was the seventh-longest in school history and two yards short of the school record.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian fumed and gestured in frustration when he met with officials as the teams went to their locker rooms, moments after Cal was given an extra second on the clock following a late timeout.
The Huskies were limited to 123 yards in the first half.
A year ago in Seattle, Locker had one of his best games ever against the Bears. He threw for three touchdowns, ran for two more and Washington whipped 19th-ranked Cal 42-10.
Saturday’s sendoff game at Memorial Stadium was played in front of a sparse crowd listed at 44,613 on a cold, dreary day for a game that began and ended with a heavy rainstorm — though Holiday Bowl representative Scott Alevy was among those in attendance. Cal will play its home games at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park next season during the facelift.
Bears quarterback Brock Mansion was 12 for 23 for 92 yards. Cal junior tailback Shane Vereen ran for 106 yards to extend his career-high season total to 1,167 with his 11th career 100-yard game.
This sequence summed up the way the first half went: In the second quarter, Keenan Allen took a direct snap for a 45-yard gain to the Washington 26, but lost 11 yards on the very next play after recovering his own fumble. Cal wound up punting.
Washington’s deepest drive early in the second quarter was thwarted when freshman backup running back Jesse Callier fumbled, and Cal recovered at the 29. But on the Bears’ ensuing play, Mansion — making his fourth start in place of injured veteran Kevin Riley — threw an interception.
Later, on first-and-10 from the 35, a deep pass by Locker was picked off by Marc Anthony in the end zone.