UCLA started out the night at 5-6 and one win away from being bowl eligible. Still not exactly sure why a 6-6 team should be bowl eligible, but those are the facts as we know them. The facts that came out of this first half of football, where in the heck was this UCLA defense all season? That bend but don’t break moniker definitely held true for the UCLA defense. UC Berkeley moved the ball, but they just could not get it in the end zone, and UCLA refused to give up the big play.
Berkeley received the opening kickoff and put together a pretty nice drive. Their drive was put behind the sticks with a holding penalty. UCLA was able to stop the Golden Bears and force a FG attempt that was wide right by the Bears’ Matt Anderson.
UCLA’s first possession started on their own 29 yard line, and the offensive line had problems protecting Rosen. The Bruins lost yards on both of their second down plays of the drive, and UCLA could not convert on their second 3rd down and forever as Rosen was sacked as he dropped back. UCLA had to punt.
UC Berkeley could not do much with their second possession and went three and out, and punted the ball to UCLA. Dylan Klumph’s booming punt was caught by Pickett, but he was immediately tackled and an illegal block pushed UCLA back even further to start their second possession on their own 4 yard line.
UCLA’s second possession started horribly with Rosen fumbling the ball in the end zone and if not for a very athletic play by Rosen recovering the fumble and diving out of the end zone, UCLA was looking at a safety. On 3rd and 13, Josh Rosen pass to the left to Soso Jamabo and Jamabo made a huge play for 15 yards to the UCLA 16 to pick up the first. Good fortune did not last as on 2nd and 9 Bolu Olorunfunmi fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Cal’s Jordan Kunaszyk to set up the Bears with great field position.
UC Berkeley could not do anything with the great field position, and had to end up settling for a Matt Anderson 32 yard field goal attempt that was good and Berkeley was up 3-0.
UCLA started their next drive on their own 25 yard line and immediately started off the drive with Soso Jamabo rushing to the right for 18 yards to the UCLA 43. Josh Rosen then threw a beautiful ball to Jordan Wilson who made an even more beautiful catch for 25 yards to the 32-yard line. After a couple of plays, Josh Rosen passed to the right to Theo Howard for 14 yards for a UCLA touchdown. At the 39 second mark of the first quarter UCLA went up 7-3.
UCLA’s special teams once again had special teams struggles as UC Berkeley’s Hawkins had a nice return to the 37 yard line. The Bears immediately moved the ball and were aided by an personal foul that moved the ball to UCLA’s 47 yard line. On 1st and 10 Patrick Laird rushed to the left for a nice pick-up to the UCLA 34. This play marked the end of the first quarter.
The Golden Bears continued their drive and were able to pick up a 3rd and 3 conversion to keep the drive going. However, UCLA’s defense once again held Berkeley out of the end zone as Ross Bowers pass to the left to Kanawai Noa was snuffed out by Nate Meadors for no gain. Matt Anderson kicked a 34 yard field goal to make it 7-6, UCLA.
UCLA’s first possession of the 2nd quarter started at their own 23 yard line, and they quickly went three and out and had to punt the ball back to UC Berkeley. However, on the punt, the Bears ran into the punter, but it was not enough for UCLA to pick up the first down. UCLA and Jedd Fisch took a huge chance and went for it on 4th and 1, and Giovan Gentosi picked up the needed yards to convert the 4th down play. After a couple of plays that picked up no yards, on 3rd and 10, Josh Rosen passed to the middle to Jordan Lasley for 17 yards to the Berkeley 49. UCLA’s Brandon Stephens then immediately picked a huge 37 yard gain to the 17-yard line, but the drive stalled, and UCLA had to settle for a FG, putting the Bruins up 10-6.
UC Berkeley’s next drive started on their own 25-yard line, and did not go anywhere as a false start penalty put them in a 3rd and 6 and an incomplete pass by Ross Bowers after UCLA pressured him out of the pocket.
A horrible punt of just 21 yards, set up UCLA with great field position at the 50 yard line to start their next drive. After UCLA picked up no yards on their first down play, Rosen threw a second down laser slant to Jordan Lasley for 33 yards to the 17. The Rosen to Lasley connection was not done as Josh Rosen threw a perfect pass to Jordan Lasley for 17 yards for a UCLA touchdown and the Bruins led 17-6.
The Bears started their next drive on their own 21 yard line and once again were able to move the ball with Patrick Laird and Vic Enwere on the ground. They also used a little tempo on this drive to throw off the UCLA defense and maybe wind them a little. However, another false start penalty put the brakes on their drive and they once again had to settle for a Matt Anderson 37-yard field goal to make it 17-9, UCLA.
UCLA started off with a bad kickoff reception by Mo Osling. On 1st and 10, Josh Rosen passed to the right to Soso Jamabo for 23 yards to the UCLA 27. This play was aided by a targeting penalty that tacked on 15 more yards. However, Rosen was sacked and then called for intentional grounding, and that put a halt to their drive.
Overall, if UCLA’s defense can continue what they did during the first half, we might be planning to watch the Independence Bowl.
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