After a wild comeback on a 69-degree New Year’s Eve night in Tucson and an electrifying punt return for a touchdown, the 2nd Annual Cactus Bowl came down to a two-point conversion attempt with 49 seconds on the clock.
When California’s Joel Dickson sacked Wyoming quarterback Tom Corontzos on the play that would have tied the game, the Golden Bears escaped with a 17–15 win and their first bowl victory in 53 years despite being outgained 355–261 in total yardage!
After a scoreless first quarter, Golden Bear quarterback Mike Pawlawski threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brian Treggs in the second quarter and Robbie Keen kicked a 46-yard field goal in the third. Cal running back Greg Zomalt added a four-yard touchdown run with 13:38 remaining to cap an 11-play drive and give the Bears a comfortable 17–3 lead.
That was the cue for Wyoming’s dramatic comeback. Jay Daffer ran untouched around the left end for an 11-yard touchdown to complete an 83-yard drive, but the two-point conversion attempt failed.
Later in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys’ defense stopped California on three plays to force a punt. Speedy Wyoming returner Robert Rivers took the boot on his own 30-yard line, dashed to the left and after finding no running room, raced to the right and down the sideline untouched for a touchdown.
After the failed two-point conversion attempt, Wyoming tried an onsides kick that sailed out of bounds, allowing the Golden Bears to run out the clock.
Pawlawski completed 15 of 26 passes for 172 yards and was named offensive player-of-the-game. Anthony Wallace accumulated 76 rushing yards on 17 attempts and Treggs finished with four receptions for 75 yards.
Wyoming had 355 yards of total offense. Corontzos threw for 226 yards and Shawn Wiggins caught seven passes for 119 yards. Linebacker Robert Midgett made 14 tackles in a losing effort en route to defensive player-of-the-game honors.