In a week where almost all of the UCLA Football news circled around the Chip Kelly, and where good ole Chip would end up as a head coach. What was somewhat lost for UCLA was a Bruins’ win against UC Berkeley would make them bowl eligible. UCLA took that challenge, and they took it as a way to show their support for Coach Mora, but also took it as a chance to go 6-0 at home and provide themselves one more time this year to wear those UCLA colors in a game, and a bowl game at that.
Everything started off pretty well for UCLA, the defense was doing their regular bend but don’t break act, and did not allow the Golden Bears to score a TD during the first half. As for UCLA, Rosen to Lasley was working early and produced 17 first half points, but it was what happened right before the half ended that changed the complexion of the game. With 1:07 left in the first half, Rosne dropped back to pass and was sacked by Alex Funches who blew right by Colton Miller. Funches slung Rosen around, and Rosen hit his head on the turf hard. Rosen finished off the drive but did not return in the second half.
This news seemed to breath new life into UC Berkeley as they were able to pick up a big 4th and 2 conversion with Patrick Laird rushing to the right for 19 yards to the UCLA 2. Ross Bowers then rushed to the right for 2 yards for a TD, and also converted the two-point conversion to tie up the score 17-17 with 8:56 left in the third quarter.
UCLA’s next possession was critical, and Modster responded. The big play of the drive happened on 2nd and 10 as Devon Modster dropped back and hit Jordan Lasley for 37 yards to the Golden Bear 28. On the next play, Modster then passed to Eldridge Massington for 16 yards to the 12. Brandon Stephens rushed to the right for 1 yard for a UCLA touchdown. At the 6:35 mark of the third quarter UCLA was up 24-17.
UC Berkeley was not able to do much with their next possession, as they picked up one first down and that was it. They was forced to punt.
UCLA’s next possession did nothing against the Bear defense, and UCLA was forced to quickly punt.
The Golden Bears took over at their 44 yard line and once again moved the ball against the UCLA defense. After an illegal substitution penalty and a short pass completion, UC Berkeley was faced with a 3rd and 8 on UCLA’s 24 yard line as the first play of the fourth quarter. Ross Bowers passed to the left to Vic Wharton III for 5 yards to the UCLA 19. This set up 4th and 3 and Justin Wilcox went for it. But, Jaelen Phillips made them wish they didn’t as he sacked Bowers to end the threat.
UCLA didn’t waste any time and went after the Bears on 1st and 10, Devon Modster hit Jordan Lasley for 41 yards to the 30-yard line. A couple of Brandon Stephens runs picked up good yards but the drive stalled, and UCLA had to settle for a JJ Molson 26 yard field goal to put UCLA up 27-17 at the 12:10 mark of the fourth quarter.
UC Berkeley’s next drive started at their own 11 yard line, and the play that got the drive going was a 3rd and 2 pass play as Bowers hit Kanawai Noa for 16 yards to their own 35. Bowers then completed consecutive passes of 16 and 14 yards. The Bears continued to pick up large chunks of yards, but their drive stalled as UCLA held in the red zone and forced UC Berkely to settle for a FG. At the 8:35 mark of the fourth quarter UCLA was up 27-20.
UCLA’s next possession started out with a nice Devon Modster pass to Brandon Stephens for 22 yards to the UCLA 34, but the very next play Modster was sacked, and UCLA could not recover and had to punt.
A beautiful UCLA punt hemmed the Bears back, but a penalty on UCLA’s Josh Wariboko-Alali gave Berkeley a free 15 yards. On 1st and 10, Ross Bowers pass hit Kanawai Noa for 21 yards to their own 44. The Golden Bears were hit with a holding penalty that really put them in a tough spot, but UCLA returned the favor as Nate Meadors was hit with a holding penalty that gave them 10 yards and an automatic first down. UC Berkeley didn’t look back as Ross Bowers threw left to Jordan Veasy for 6 yards for a touchdown. With 2:22 left in the fourth quarter, the score was tied 27-27.
The stage was set for Modster to lead UCLA to victory. Modster started the possession at the 25 yard line with a quick wide receiver screen to the right to Howard for 6 yards. On 3rd and 4, Devon Modster passed to the left to Jordan Lasley for 18 yards to the UCLA 49 aided by a nice Theo Howard block. Consecutive runs by Stephens picked up 14 yards. On 1st and 10, Devon Modster passed to the left to Jordan Lasley for 9 yards to the 28-yard line. A few short running plays set up Molson for the game winning kick, and Molson came through.
Tonight provided another night where the Bruins came out and fought hard. Becoming bowl eligible is quite an accomplishment in light of the season that the Bruins have gone through. The next few days around UCLA will most likely be an absolute zoo, but guess what? Part of the activity around Westwood will be the Bruins still practicing and preparing for another game, and I am more than OK with that based on the way they have played recently.