FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jared Goff threw for 467 yards and six touchdowns and California won in the postseason for the first time in seven years, beating Air Force 55-36 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Tuesday.
Goff had three of his scoring tosses in a span of five plays in the second quarter as the Bears (8-5) broke a 14-14 tie and cruised in a rematch of the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl, also won by Cal (42-36).
Receiver Kenny Lawler had three touchdowns for Cal, which last made the postseason in a 21-10 loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl in 2011. The Bears’ last bowl win was 24-17 over Miami in the 2008 Emerald Bowl near their Bay Area campus.
Weakened by the targeting ejection of secondary anchor Weston Steelhammer on Air Force’s third defensive play, the Falcons (8-6) lost for the fourth time in five Armed Forces appearances since 2007.
Goff, who was Cal’s first freshman starting quarterback in 2013, broke Aaron Rodgers’ school record for passing yards in a bowl game in possibly his last game if he enters the NFL draft as a junior. Rodgers had 394 yards in a 52-49 win over Virginia Tech in the 2003 Insight Bowl.
Goff, who was 25 of 37 with no interceptions, broke the Armed Forces records for passing yards and touchdowns.
Goff fell short of his career record of seven touchdown passes in a game from a 59-56 double-overtime win against Colorado last season. But he extended his own school season records he had already broken, finishing with 43 touchdowns and a Pac-12 record 4,719 yards.
It was another successful Texas homecoming for Cal coach Sonny Dykes, son of former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes. The Bears won for the second time this season in the Lone Star State after beating Texas 45-44 in September.
Steelhammer, Air Force’s leader in tackles and interceptions at safety, was ejected after hitting Bryce Treggs moments after a pass had gone by the Cal receiver. The junior dropped his head as the announcement was made, and coach Troy Calhoun angrily waved his arms at officials.
Karson Roberts threw for two touchdowns and had 69 yards rushing and another score for Air Force. Jacobi Owens, the leader of one of the nation’s best rushing attacks, had 83 yards and a touchdown.
The Falcons lost their last three games, including the Mountain West Conference championship to San Diego State, and dropped to 1-9 at TCU’s Amon G. Stadium.
Cal took control on a sequence that started with Goff’s perfect deep throw to Maurice Harris, who reached out with his left hand to redirect the ball to his body and cradled it on his way out of bounds for a 40-yard gain to the Air Force 5.
Goff found Darius Powe on the next play for one of Powe’s two scores and a 21-14 lead. The Bears got the ball back immediately on a fumble when Roberts lost control trying to run the option, and Goff hit Lawler in stride in the end zone for a 24-yard score. Lawler had five catches for 75 yards.
After an Air Force punt, Goff moved the Bears 78 yards on three completions, with a 55-yarder to Treggs setting up a 14-yard score to Lawler. Treggs had 143 yards and a touchdown.