UCLA dominates against Cal to enter bowl season on a wave of momentum

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Chip Kelly will dismiss it, won’t want to hear it and will probably cut off the suggestion mid-sentence.

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His UCLA Bruins have picked up some momentum in their first bowl game in four years.

UCLA’s 42-14 win over California at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, which included 32 consecutive points from the second to fourth quarters, gave the Bruins only Kelly’s third consecutive win in four seasons.

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Every win in this most recent run came on a team with a losing record, no less that Kelly probably scored the wins needed to cement his position with only one season on his contract.

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Greg Dulcich made a hard end to Brins with the ball during the first half. He had six catches and one touchdown for 86 yards.
(Jee Si Hong / The Associated Press)

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The Bruins (8-4 overall, 6-3 Pac-12 Conference) are probably headed to the Las Vegas Bowl or the Holiday Bowl, with the latter bowl having a representative at the Rose Bowl press box on Saturday. This will be UCLA’s first Bowl appearance since losing the Cactus Bowl in 2017.

The Bruins, running back Zack Charbonnet, ran for 106 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson took offense for a total of 266 yards in what could have been his final appearance at the Rose Bowl. Neither player has said that he will return next season or be selected for the NFL draft.

Thompson-Robinson’s final pass found its way into the hands of receiver Kyle Phillips behind the end zone on a four-yard touchdown, the second time Phillips slipped past the Kyle defense in a play he had scored. Thompson-Robinson completed 19 of 28 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 102 yards in 13 carries.

Cal quarterback Chase Garbers is brought down by UCLA defensive back Cameron Johnson, right, and linebacker Michelle Agude.
Cal quarterback Chase Garbers, center, is brought down by UCLA defensive back Cameron Johnson, right, and linebacker Michelle Agude.
(Jee Si Hong / The Associated Press)

UCLA’s defense closed out the Golden Bears (4-7, 3-5) in the final 37 minutes when the Bruins went 14-10 in the middle of the second quarter. Cal was fourth and one at the UCLA one-yard line in the final minute, but quarterback Chase Garbers’ pass was broken in the end field by Bruins cornerback John Humphrey.

UCLA largely avoided the post-USC hangover, improving overall in games in the week to 2-6 and 1-3 under Kelly after taking on the role of its rival since the conference’s expansion in 2011.

UCLA recognized 21 seniors before the game, each with a hug from Kelly, although more than a handful could return next season given the additional eligibility posed by COVID-19. According to the school, only nine players on the team have finished their eligibility, including Briton Brown, offensive lineman Paul Grattan Jr., linebacker Jordan Jenmark Heath, defensive lineman Daytona Jackson, and defensive backs Quaternez Knight, Cameron Johnson and Obie Abboh.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson runs with the ball during the first half.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson ran for 102 yards in 13 carries.
(Jee Si Hong / The Associated Press)

The Browns didn’t play a second straight game after suffering a late injury in the Bruins’ win over Colorado earlier this month.

The first half was largely about mistakes and redemption.

UCLA’s Kazmir Allen suffered the biggest mistake when a kickoff in the middle of the second quarter went through his arms, recovering on the Cal Bruins’ 13-yard line. Momentarily it looked like the Bruins could catch the Golden Bears for a field goal when Cal made an unforgivable delay of the game coming out of the timeout, forcing a third and 10, but the Garbers struck a 12. – Yard pass completed.

In the next game, Garbers moved to the end zone, giving Kail a 14–10 lead.

Allen atone for his mistake on the next drive to UCLA, when he sprinted for an eight-yard touchdown on a jet sweep, allowing the Bruins to hold a 17–14 lead, with 26 seconds remaining in the first half.

Gerbers, the older brother of UCLA Redshirt freshman quarterback Ethan Garbers, cost his team two interceptions. The first interception, made by UCLA cornerback Jay Shaw, led to the Bruins’ first touchdown, on a four-yard pass from Thompson-Robinson to the Phillips in the back of the end zone.

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