The 2008 Orange Bowl was the 75th iteration of the game, played on January 2, 2008. The game pitted Atlantic Champion South Carolina, ranked No. 9, against PCC runner-up Pacifica, ranked No. 6. In an upset, the Pacifica Orcas defeated the favored Gamecocks 34-21, jumping out to a 17-0 second quarter lead. Orcas quarterback Kelvin Shays was named Offensive MVP and Orca cornerback Kasim Greaves was named Defensive MVP. The game was Pacifica's first Elite Series appearance since the 1996 Sugar Bowl, and South Carolina's first since the 199_.
The Pacifica Orcas, coached by Gene Craig, opened the season with ten straight wins, eventually climbing to a No. 3 ranking prior to their November _th meeting with No. 2 San Diego on the road with both teams already having clinched their divisions and guaranteed to face one another again in Tacoma two weeks later. The Orcas lost to the Tritons 21-17 in a hard-fought match, and the Orcas proceeded to defeat archrival Pacifica State the next week 50-13 on the road in Vernon, PC. The next week, now ranked No. 4 and facing the No. 3 Tritons (who had lost the week before) with both teams 11-1, the Orcas lost once again, this time 30-7, dropping them to a No. 6 ranking heading into the bowl season.
The 2007 Orcas are noteworthy for playing three quarterbacks due to injuries - senior starter Kelvin Shays played sporadicaly due to knee issues, while true freshman Carson Wilcox and redshirt junior Thom Bigelow played at various times in the season too. Many Orca fans believed that had Shays been available for the first San Diego game, the Orcas would have kept their undefeated run alive. Freshman running back Peter Richardson rushed for 1,781 yards on the season, a record for an Orca running back that has yet to be broker (Richardson came eight yards shy in 2009).
The Orcas jumped out to a 17-0 lead with 10:31 left in the second quarter - scoring on a Shays pass to Mer'Von Rankins on the third play of the game, intercepting South Carolina quarterback Sam Cooper on two consecutive drives, kicking a field goal to take a 10-0 lead and then scoring on a James Scopes run from the five yard line.
The Gamecocks fought back to cut the deficit to 20-14 heading into halftime with two Cooper touchdown passes to Kelyan Drake followed by another Pacifica field goal, and marched downfield to take a 21-20 lead on the opening drive of the third quarter on a Cooper scramble into the endzone. The Orcas scored fourteen unanswered points behind a Shays pass to Scopes from thirty yards out and a Kasim Greaves interception return for eighty yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. The game would go scoreless from there, and Shays took a knee to run out the clock on the Orcas' first Elite Series bowl win - and appearance - since 1996.
Awards and Postgame
The Orange Bowl Trophy was awarded to Gene Craig, Athletic Director Jeremy Chang and University of Pacifica President Leslie Mahoney by Miami sports legend Dan Marino and Chuck Russell, CEO of the Orange Bowl. For his 298 passing yards with two touchdowns with no interceptions and 97 rushing yards, Kelvin Shays was granted the Orange Bowl Offensive MVP award in his final collegiate game. For two interceptions with one touchdown return, twelve defended passes and seven tackles, sophomore cornerback Kasim Greaves was awarded the Orange Bowl Defensive MVP award.