It was a record-breaking night at Memorial Stadium Saturday, and even though not that many were there to witness it, Cal's first win over UCLA since 2012 gave fans plenty to enjoy.
Davis Webb and Chad Hansen kept adding to their record totals, Matt Anderson tied Mark Jensen's mark with five field goals, Khalfani Muhammad ran for 116 yards, and a good time was had by all in the 36-10 win – especially the seniors, who were the focus of the post game press conference.
"I could tell everyone was playing for the seniors," said Chad Hansen, who had another outstanding game with 10 catches for 156 yards. "They've put in time, effort, blood, sweat, tears into this program, and we need to pay them back – and I think we did that tonight."
Cal head coach Sonny Dykes echoed that sentiment. "It was a great way to send out our seniors," he said. "We played as good as we've played at any point this year." The last time Cal held a Pac-12 team to 17 or fewer points was 2012.
The game began under gray skies before a sparse crowd, and neither team could rise above those circumstances in the early going. But late in the first quarter, Cal moved into field goal range and the ever-reliable Anderson drilled a 43-yard field goal.
It seems UCLA must have entirely missed their wake up call as the Bruins failed to complete a pass in the first quarter, were penalized four times and managed just two first downs. Even worse, the second quarter began with Cal on the UCLA 5, with a first down, having been on offense for 11 of the first 15 minutes.
Three plays later, Webb found Jordan Veasey for a touchdown, but Hansen was called for blocking downfield while Webb was rolling right. But on third-and-goal from the 17, Cal elected to run and failed to score – so Anderson delivered again to make it 6-0 with 13:43 left in the half.
Once again, Cal moved into UCLA territory, but once again, the drive stalled. Anderson, with 44-yard field goal, made it 9-0. Not incidentally, Anderson broke the modern-era single-season scoring record with that make, passing Mark Jensen (2000-2).
Next up, you guessed it, an Anderson field goal. This one came from 24 yards out, and it came at the end of a 15-play, 93-yard drive, and pushed the score to 12-0.
"We were frustrated because we had to keep kicking field goals," said Dykes, Cal's defense, though, was blanketing UCLA receivers, leaving UCLA QB Fafaul no choice but to airmail passes high and out of bounds. He finished 12 of 30 for 176 yards, while on the other side, Cal ran an amazing 102 plays and accumulated 42:09 minutes in time of possession.
Key to this was the UCLA decision to come in looking to run, but the Bruins couldn't make it work. "Their game plan was to run the ball," Dykes said, "and I don't blame them. We had not been very good against the run, but we got some critical stops, and we made some big plays on third down."
The Bruins awoke briefly to start the second half, hitting some big third-down passes to drive down the field to cut the margin to 12-7, but the Bears finally finished a drive with 310-pound Malik McMorris getting his first career rushing touchdown by leaping (sort-of) into the end zone from a half-yard out. (Please pause to paint that mental picture.) The score was set up by a 33-yard pass to Hansen, who has seven 100-yard games this season, but the lead was just 19-7, allowing UCLA remain within striking distance.
Then the Bruins obligingly fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Cal recovered, and Webb hit freshman Jordan Duncan from a yard out for his first career touchdown. That made it 26-7, and the remnants of the announced crowd of 39,633 began to savor the possibility of the first win over UCLA since 2012.
Another Anderson field goal and a TD catch by Bug Rivera finished out the scoring, but the story was just as much on the defensive side, as the Bruins only gained 296 yards on the night and were never really in the game.
The Bears only had two penalties and didn't turn the ball over, which always warms a coach's heart. "We played winning football," said Dykes, and it's just barely possible that Cal could get into a bowl game, and play winning football one more time.