Cal competitive in 37-10 loss to UCLA

By Morris Phillips

The last thing the young, injury-plagued Cal Bears needed to see on Saturday night was another high scoring opponent, but that’s exactly what they got in 11th-ranked UCLA, averaging 48 points a game.

But this time, the Bears managed to put up some defensive resistance,, it just did not take hold until after the Bruins had established a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.  From that point, the Bears came up with a brief rally, but saw their normally capable offense short circuit in a 37-10 loss.

“I thought defensively we played well enough at times to give us a chance to win,” Coach Sonny Dykes said.  “There’s obviously a lot of ways for us to get better, but I thought defensively those guys improved.”

UCLA’s Jim Mora had to face a different interpretation of the ballgame from the Los Angeles press, which felt the Bruins appeared rusty with big games with Stanford and Oregon on the horizon.  But Mora did have ammunition on his side in the final stats that were overwhelmingly in favor of the Bruins and quarterback Brett Hundley.

“The guy passed for 410 yards; that pretty good,” Mora said.  “So I’m going to focus on that.  If you want to focus on the missed throws in the end zone, you go ahead and do that.  Tonight it is all about 410 yards, and 37-10 win over Cal.”

From Cal’s perspective, the Bears avoided further embarrassment in Dykes’ first season that now finds them at 1-5, 0-3 in the Pac-12.  As the losses and injuries mount, the UCLA effort showed that the Bears aren’t ready to pack it in, even as their numbers dwindle.

“The guys that are going to play are expected to do their job,” linebacker Hardy Nickerson said.  “That’s what it boils down to.  If a starter goes down, the backup is expected to be just as good as the starter.”

To prevent being exposed defensively, the Bears loaded up to stop the Bruins on the ground, and it worked.  UCLA rushed for just 78 yards, couldn’t convert half of their third-down opportunities (7 for15) and then saw their receivers and Hundley miss on some potentially-big plays in the second half.

The UCLA shortcomings left an opening for Cal who responded with a Vincenzo D”Amato field goal and a Daniel Lasco touchdown run in the second quarter to narrow the Bruins lead to 17-10 in the second quarter.  But before the Bears could announce themselves back, Hundley led the Bruins on a eight-play drive that put UCLA up 14 at the half, culminating with Thomas Duarte’s 27-yard touchdown catch.

Cal quarterback Jared Goff has managed to put together some impressive numbers under trying conditions, but that didn’t continue Saturday.  Goff missed several throws and finished with just 215 yards passing, while completing 26 of 43.  Khalif Muhammad saw action in the absence of injured Brendan Bigelow and provided support on the ground with 14 carries for 64 yards.  But Goff couldn’t capitalize, missing throws and failing to make big plays down field with Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper. 

The Bears can capture their first win over a Division I opponent in over a year next Saturday night at Memorial Stadium when Oregon State (5-1, 3-0) visits.




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