The final seconds of UCLA’s first win of the Chip Kelly era ticked off and the Bruins gathered to celebrate with their traveling fans before performing a rousing rendition of their fight song in the locker room.
After five straight losses to open the season, this celebration was a long time coming.
Joshua Kelley ran for 157 yards and three touchdowns, the defense had four of its five takeaways in the second half and Kelly earned his first win as a college coach in more than five years by beating California 37-7 Saturday in Berkeley, California.
“For me, it just hit home when we celebrated with the student section that traveled here,” Kelley said. “When we sung that fight song, it felt right. It felt right, man.”
The Bruins (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12) entered the day one of four winless teams in the FBS as part of their worst start since 1943. But UCLA dominated the trenches against the Golden Bears (3-3, 0-3) to give Kelly his first win as a college coach since leaving Oregon for the NFL following the 2012 season.
Kelley scored on a 5-yard run to cap a 59-yard drive set up by a fumble by Patrick Laird in the first quarter. Then, after Cal finally got on the board with Laird’s 1-yard run on the opening drive of the second half, Kelley and the Bruins answered with two straight scoring drives capped by Kelley’s 1-yard runs that made it 27-7.
He has been a bright spot in a down season for UCLA, becoming the first Bruins player with three straight 100-yard games since Jordon James in 2013.
Keisean Lucier-South put the capper on the rout with a 38-yard fumble return for a score after one of Cal’s five turnovers.
“We’re starting to figure it out,” UCLA safety Adarius Pickett said. “We’re starting to figure it out in all phases. … It’s an amazing feeling. The team is excited.”
The Bears dropped their third straight conference game after starting the season 3-0 and getting into the AP rankings for the first time since 2015. The offense struggled for any consistency outside of the 75-yard drive to open the third quarter. Cal was stopped twice on fourth-and-short in the second half, dooming any hopes of a comeback.
Brandon McIlwain completed 22 of 40 passes for 168 yards but was held to minus-2 yards rushing, lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions.
Note: No. 19-ranked Colorado at USC was not completed by press time.
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