BYU wide receiver Mitchell Juergens is tackled by California linebacker Jalen Jefferson, right, during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez
November 29, 2014

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) BYU put an exclamation point on the season by denying its opponent a chance for one more game.

Christian Stewart threw for 433 yards and five touchdowns, and the Cougars kept California from becoming bowl eligible with a 42-35 win over the Golden Bears on Saturday.

''It's as gratifying a win as I've ever been associated with as a player or a coach,'' BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Stewart tossed a 38-yard TD pass to a wide-open Jordan Leslie with 2:39 remaining for the go-ahead score, setting off chants of ''B-Y-U! B-Y-U!'' at half-filled Memorial Stadium. The Cougars (8-4) stopped record-setting Cal quarterback Jared Goff one more time to finish the regular season with four straight victories.

''It means a lot,'' Stewart said. ''We're an independent team who people say, `OK, can they compete with some of these better conferences?' It shows that we can play with anybody in the country.''

Or at least a middling Pac-12 team.

Goff completed 38 of 60 passes for 393 yards and four touchdowns, adding to his own school record for yards passing in a season and breaking Pat Barnes' mark of 31 TD passes in 1996. But he had one interception and threw incomplete on his final four passes to the end zone as the Bears (5-7) ended the season with three consecutive losses.

''It's hard to take in right now. And I think it's hard for the whole team,'' Goff said after emerging from a silent locker room.

Cal, which had made strides after going 1-11 last year in coach Sonny Dykes' first season in Berkeley, will remember the 2014 more for how it ended. The Bears lost 38-30 at Southern California and 38-17 at home to rival Stanford last week before wasting their final shot at a bowl in even more dramatic fashion.

Dykes chose to punt on fourth-and-1 from Cal's 34 with less than 5 minutes to play, and the Cougars capitalized with the winning 66-yard TD drive.

Then Goff guided Cal down field before a 5-yard false start penalty on first down pushed the Bears back to BYU's 14. Goff threw incomplete to Kenny Lawler on the final four plays, the last one over the head of the receiver with 10 seconds left.

BYU players and coaches jumped around the field, while the Bears quietly walked off to the locker room following the final kneel down - except for Goff, who sat on the sideline in solace.

Lawler tied a school record with three TD catches, and Daniel Lasco ran for 130 yards for the Bears - who had another great offensive output to go with another shaky defensive performance. Cal, which scored the second most points in school history this season (459) and the most since 1920, outgained BYU 566 to 540 yards.

''Indicative of some of the games we had this year,'' Dykes said.

Goff added to his own Cal record for yards passing - set last year as a freshman and eclipsed last week against Stanford - and etched his name deeper into the school record books. The sophomore finished with 3,973 yards passing and 35 touchdowns this season, which is suddenly over sooner than expected.

BYU's postseason plans were already set, having previously accepted an invitation to the Miami Beach Bowl. But the Cougars came into Berkeley with three straight wins against lesser competition - outscoring Middle Tennessee State, UNLV and Savannah State 133-30 - and wanted to finish with a signature road victory against a Pac-12 team.

On a cool, cloudy day in Berkeley, they traded scores all game and came out on top.

''We won some games but still there are people skeptical out there, `Well they're beating teams that aren't that good,'' said BYU defensive back Skye PoVey, who had an interception. ''To go into a Pac-12 school, into their house in a big game for them - they needed it to go to a bowl game - to pull out a win like that, it's one of the funnest games I've ever played in.''

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