Based on UCLA’s encouraging performance against the Washington Huskies last Saturday, Bruins Nation had a heightened sense of optimism heading into this week’s game against the 3-2 UC Berkeley Bears. However, Memorial Stadium has not been a friendly place to the Bruins recently, as they have lost eight of their last nine. So how did the first half go for the Bruins?
The first half of UCLA football was all about the UCLA defense. Yes, that’s not a misprint, typo, or me hallucinating as I write this. UCLA held the Bears to barely over a hundred yards for the first half and no points.
The first big play of the quarter came as Patrick Laird ran right and Darnay Holmes forced a fumble, and it was recovered by UCLA’s Adarius Pickett close to the sideline. UCLA then road Joshua Kelly down into Cal territory and got a little luck on tipped pass that was caught by Caleb Wilson on Cal’s 5 yard line, and UCLA wasted no time punching it in as Kelley scored on a 3 yard TD run to put UCLA up 7-0 at the 2:18 mark of the first quarter.
The first quarter also showcased a pretty stout UCLA defense. UCLA was disciplined during that quarter of football, and did not allow any big running plays by Brandon McIlwain as he had zero rushing yards in that first quarter and was sacked twice by the Bruins.
UCLA started the quarter with the ball, and Thompson-Robinson completed a 46 yard pass to Caleb Wilson on a beautifully thrown ball that took the Bruins all the way to Cal’s nine yard line. The drive stalled on a few strange play calls, one was a jet sweep to Michael Ezeike for a two yard loss. He is not the person that I would actually look for to run a jet sweep. Then on 3rd down UCLA ran a read option with DTR that was really slow in developing, and DTR was eventually brought down for a five yard loss. The Bruins had to settle for a JJ Molson 25 yd FG to take a 10-0 at the 10:32 mark of the second quarter.
UCLA’s special teams came up big as Adarius Pickett received a Steven Coutts punt and returned it 40 yards to Cal’s 38 yard line to set the Bruins up with great field position on their second possession of the quarter. UCLA started the drive off with an apparent Dymond Lee pass that looked like it might have been going back to DTR, but it was sniffed out by Cal for a seven yard loss. UCLA was then faced with a 3rd and 10 at the Cal 38 yard line, and DTR completed a pass to Caleb Wilson for the first down, as Caleb brought in a low throw to move the sticks. UCLA’s drive stalled again, and JJ Molson was able to kick a 29 yard field goal to push UCLA’s lead to 13-0 at the 5:07 mark of the first half.
Bad UCLA offense and special teams put UCLA’s defense in a bad spot to end the half. UCLA had a 3rd and 4, and DTR passed to Ezeike for 3 and half yards, and to make matters worse, Ezeike also went out of bounds to stop the clock. UCLA then punted it to Call, and a nice return set up Cal for their first scoring chance of the half. Cal lined up for their field goal attempt, and Chip used a timeout for the attempted “icing of the kicker”, and guess what? It worked, as Greg Thomas missed his 32 yard field goal attempt.
UCLA will need to continue with this defense, and the offense will have to convert on trips into the red zone if UCLA is going to come away with their first win of the year.
UCLA Rushing: 92 yards
UCLA Passing: 107 yards
41 total plays for 199 yards yards
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