Photographs by Vance Cardell
If ever you needed proof that it's better to be lucky than good, look no further than Saturday's Emerald Bowl. Late in a contest tied at 17 -- a classic "How bad can we play and still win this game?" game for the home side -- California quarterback Nate Longshore (a man who faces a long future of people asking "Didn't you used to play football?") looked to the endzone and overthrew his receiver by three feet -- only to have the ball land in the breadbasket of an 18-year-old Cal freshman tight end for his first career catch. Touchdown. Ballgame
No, we won't have Nate Longshore to kick around anymore. It was William Shakespeare who noted "how sharper it is than a serpent's tooth to have a thankless child" -- but Longshore could just as easily add "How much more excruciating it is than a blindside hit to have 60,000 fans chanting for your backup." There were only 42,000 fans at AT&T Park yesterday -- but they compensated by chanting extra loud. I have a feeling that Longshore won't be donating any money to his alma mater in the near or the far future.
On the bright side, AT&T Park is, counter-intuitively, a great venue for football. All of these shots were taken from the right field upper deck, which is situated behind the west endzone.
In a game featuring limited offense, the best aerial show took place prior to the kickoff (You can click on all of these photographs for jumbo versions):
These three lunatics parachuted into the stadium -- and in a display of precision not to be matched by either Longshore or University of Miami slinger Jacory Harris, they landed right on the 50-yard-line.
Other than his excuse-me touchdown to win the game, it was a Blame-it-on-Mono-caliber performance for Longshore. He did, however, have one great pass, catching Verran Tucker behind the Hurricanes' secondary for a 74-yard reception down the right sideline:
Tucker out-motored the Miami d-backs, and dived past the pylon for an apparent touchdown -- but was later ruled down by contact at the 2-yard-line.
That would set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Cal tailback Jahvid Best.
Moments later, Best broke a 42-yard touchdown run. Go to YouTube, type in "Jahvid Best" and waste half your working day. It's that easy
. He finished with 186 rushing yards and won the game's offensive Most Valuable Player trophy -- the easiest election in San Francisco since Dianne Feinstein beat out the White Panthers.
When it was all over, the big board thanked the paying crowd for the best-attended Emerald Bowl yet. Left unsaid was that this is what happens when you invite the hometown team. Maybe next year, Stanford can come. For Cal fans, elusive dreams of Pasadena remain.