Fueled by a defense that forced five turnovers and six sacks, the 24th ranked Texas Longhorns defeated the California Golden Bears 21-10 in the 2011 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl. The game featured suffocating defense by both teams, but not before Texas QB David Ash joined an elite group of quarterbacks in Holiday Bowl history.
Trailing 3-0 in the second quarter, the Longhorns drew up a trick reverse, as running back Malcolm Brown handed off to Jaxon Shipley, who pulled up and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ash. Ash became just the fourth quarterback in the 34-year history of the bowl game to record a touchdown catch, joining BYU's Steve Young (1983), Texas A&M's Bucky Richardson (1990), and Oregon's Joey Harrington (2000).
The defenses set the tone early in the game, as California forced the Texas offense into five punts and a missed field goal in the first half, surrendering only Ash's touchdown reception late in the second quarter. The Longhorns' defense proved to be even stingier, as they forced the Golden Bears into three punts, a fumble and an interception after giving up a field goal on Cal's opening possession of the game.
Just as they did to start the game, the Cal offense came out swinging in the second half, as junior QB Zach Maynard and junior RB Isi Sofele combined to orchestrate an 11-play, 69-yard drive, capped off by a strong 6-yard touchdown run by Sofele. The touchdown gave the Golden Bears their second lead of the night, and hope against the solid Longhorns' defense.
The lead would not last long, however, as Texas fired right back with a touchdown of their own, as Ash hooked up with WR Marquise Goodwin for an over-the-shoulder 47-yard touchdown grab. Ash completed 14 of 23 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown to go along with his touchdown reception on his way to earning the game's Offensive MVP trophy.
The Longhorns let their defense take control from there. Cal regained possession six more times in the second half, and they were forced into three punts and three fumbles, bringing Cal's turnover count to five for the game. Maynard accounted for three of those turnovers, fumbling twice and throwing an interception. The count could have been even higher, but Cal was able to recover two of their own lost fumbles.
The Golden Bears were also held to just seven yards rushing on 36 carries. Maynard finished the game 19-33 for 188 yards, along with his three turnovers.
The Texas offense finally padded their lead on the first play of the fourth quarter, as RB Cody Johnson rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to stretch the score to 21-10.
The Cal defense played a strong game forcing Texas to punt nine times (a Holiday Bowl record), but the offense couldn't give them the scoring support. The two teams combined for eight sacks, as well as 16 punts, another bowl record.