UCLA Outlasts UC Berkeley, 35-28
By defeating the Northern Branch today, the Bruins have finished the regular season with nine wins for the first time since 2014.
The UCLA Bruins defeated the UC Berkeley Golden Bears, 35-28, this afternoon in Berkeley to win their ninth game of the season for the first time since 2014.
It wasn’t the easy win for the Bruins that some may have expected.
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The game began UCLA receiving the opening kickoff and each team’s first drive ended in a punt.
The Bruins’ second drive began on their own 45 yard line. Zach Charbonnet carried for gains of five yards and 17 yards to get the ball down to the Berkeley 33. Six plays later, Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Jake Bobo to put UCLA ahead, 7-0.
UCLA held the Golden Bears to another three-and-out on their second drive, but the Bruins were unable to score as the drive ended on a missed 33-yard field goal attempt by Nicholas Barr-Mira.
Berkeley tied the game on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Jack Plummer to Michael Sturdivant and the first quarter ended with a 7-7 tie.
UCLA re-took the lead on a 23-yard field goal by Barr-Mira and it was 10-7, Bruins.
The Bears followed with consecutive touchdowns with passes from Plummer to Jeremiah Hunter to move ahead, 21-10.
With just 58 seconds left in the first half, DTR moved the Bruins downfield quickly. First, he found Jake Bobo for nine yards and then he found him again for eight more. On the third play of the drive, he hit Titus Mokiao-Atimalala for a big 32-yard gain and then he hit him again for another seven yards. That gave the Bruins second down and three from the Berkeley 19. DTR took off on the next play for a 19-yard run that cut the Bears’ lead to just four points at the half, 21-17.
After the break, UC Berkeley got the ball to start the second half and the Bruin defense stopped their first drive with a six-yard loss on a pass from Plummer to Jaydn Ott to force another Bears’ punt.
With the ball on their own ten-yard line, UCLA moved 90 yards on 12 plays with DTR taking the final play of the drive into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time on a 14-yard run. That put the Bruins ahead, 24-21, but the game wasn’t over quite yet.
UCLA’s next drive resulted in the second punt of the game for Barr-Mira, but Jeremiah Hunter fumbled the return and Laiatu Latu recovered for the Bruins. UCLA capitalized on the turnover with a 26-yard field goal by Barr-Mira to put the Bruins up 27-21.
The Bruin defense got beat on the next drive for a 49-yard pass from Plummer to Hunter, which set up an eight-yard pass to Ott that gave Berkeley their final lead, 28-27 with 11:16 left in the game.
When UCLA got the ball back, the Bruin offense moved the ball quickly and efficiently. They used just 3:16 to move 73 yards with Zach Charbonnet taking a handoff on 2nd and one for a 5-yard touchdown run. DTR threw to Jake Bobo for a two-point conversion and the Bruins re-took the lead for good, 35-28.
The Bears got the ball back with almost eight minutes left, which was plenty of time to tie the game, but the much-maligned UCLA defense held them to a quick three-and-out. Following a long, time-consuming UCLA drive which resulted in the Bruins turning the ball over on downs with 1:58 left, the Bears had another chance to tie the game. This drive ended with Laiatu Latu’s second fumble recovery of the game as did Berkeley’s chances to win the game and the Bruins will be returning home having defeated the Northern Branch, 35-28.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson finished the day going 21 for 30 for 189 yards and one passing touchdowns and he added 88 yards rushing on 14 carries with two more scores.
Zach Charbonnet led the rushing attack with 119 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown, but the surprise of the game may have been the return of TJ Harden who looked like the heir apparent to Charbonnet with 12 carries for 89 yards. With Colson Yankoff’s 59 yards on 11 carries, the Bruins pounded the Berkeley defense into submission with an outstanding 352 yards rushing for the game.
Meanwhile, the Bruin defense held the Bears to just 67 rushing yards forcing Jack Plummer to throw 34 times for 297 yards. It was certainly UCLA’s best defensive performance since defensive coordinator Bill McGovern got sick a month ago.
The win moves UCLA to 6-3 in conference play. The Bruins now wait to find out which bowl game they will be playing in when the bowl games are announced a week from tomorrow.