Cal’s defense put on an inspired performance but the Bears’ offense was limited to 320 yards in a 37-10 loss to No. 11 UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
The Bears (1-5, 0-3 Pac-12), despite missing a slew of significant players on defense due to injury, overcame a slow start and held the Bruins’ potent offense in check for most of the final three quarters. After putting together sustained drives on each of its first three possessions and jumping out to a 17-0 lead, UCLA’s offense became inconsistent for most of the rest of the night.
The Bruins entered the night ranked fourth in the nation in total offense at 561.8 yards per game in fifth in scoring at 48 points per game.
“We have a lot of young guys on defense that played their best game tonight,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “We’re certainly making progress. Our defense played well enough to give us a chance to win. We just didn’t play as well as we have been on offense.”
After UCLA moved to the Bears’ 13 on its first possession of the game, the Bears’ defense tightened and forced the Bruins into a 24-yard field goal by Kaim Fairbairn. UCLA then put together a pair of touchdown drives to take a 17-0 early in the first quarter, but from then on the game was essentially even.
The Bears got on the board on a 51-yard field goal by Vicenzo D’Amato, and then sliced the deficit to 17-10 after a 14-play, 81-yard drive that culminated in a 6-yard touchdown run by Daniel Lasco with 2:35 remaining in the first half. UCLA came up with a big answer, getting a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Hundley to Thomas Duarte with just 40 seconds remaining before the half.
That was the score at halftime, and neither offense did much the rest of the game until the Bruins added a late touchdown to cap the scoring.
“Everybody knows that when their number is called, they’re expected to do the same as the guy in front of them,” said Cal linebacker Hardy Nickerson, who led Cal’s defensive effort with nine tackles. “The guys that are going to play are expected to do their job. That’s what it boils down to. If a starter goes down, the backup is expected to be just as good as the starter.”
Cal quarterback Jared Goff, who entered the game ranked third in the country with 364.2 passing yards per game, was 26-for-43 for 215 yards. Chris Harper had seven catches for 35 yards or the Bears.
The Bears will return home to host Oregon State next Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised by either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
“Our kids kept playing hard,” Dykes said. “Our defense did some good things and got some stops when our backs were up against the wall. Credit to our players for continuing to work hard and buying in and believing. We haven’t been incredibly successful and it’s hard to do that when you’re not getting the results. Give them credit because they keep showing up and working hard.”