BERKELEY, Calif. “”mdash; Between the third and fourth quarters, the entire California football team gathered in a huddle on the sidelines and riled itself up. The Bears jumped up and yelled, waving towels to rally their team and fans.
But all those towels wouldn’t have been capable of cleaning up the sloppy play on the field.
UCLA (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) fell on its own sword on the way to a 43-17 loss against Cal (2-4, 1-2) by way of six turnovers.
“We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves. Starts with six turnovers,” said coach Jim Mora. “You know, when you go on the road, in a hostile environment and you turn the ball over six times, it’s going to be tough to win games.”
Despite getting off to a quick start, with redshirt senior safety Andrew Abbott picking off Cal quarterback Zach Maynard, followed by the offense converting that turnover into a touchdown, the Bruins had trouble picking up the pieces after.
The Bruins amassed 12 penalties that racked up 99 yards against them, preventing the offense from gaining a rhythm and maintaining its typical high-tempo pace.
“A lot of penalties messed up our rhythm. We were moving the ball as you could see. Every time we got in the red zone ““ penalty,” said redshirt junior wide receiver Shaq Evans.
By halftime, UCLA already had three turnovers, largely by its own volition.
Experimenting with freshman Devin Fuller as a receiver, redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley threw a pass backward to Fuller, which was dropped and subsequently ruled a fumble. The Bears recovered and converted the next possession for a touchdown.
After freshman kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a field goal, UCLA forced Cal to punt on its ensuing possession. But redshirt freshman Steven Manfro muffed the punt after calling for a fair catch, which was recovered by the Bears and once again scored for a touchdown.
And just before the teams headed for the tunnels after two quarters of play, Hundley and Evans were on entirely different pages as the quarterback anticipated a deep route while Evans ran a stop. The mix-up resulted in an easy interception by Cal defensive back Kameron Jackson in the end zone.
“We shot ourselves in the foot tonight,” Evans said.
The Bruins continued to be their own worst enemy in the second half. After UCLA’s offensive line gave way to Cal’s defense, Hundley was forced into tough throws under pressure, leading to three more interceptions in the second half ““ finishing the night with four, a career high.
But the mess of a game wasn’t only attributable to UCLA. Cal had 11 penalties for 100 yards and three turnovers of its own. However, the Bears were able to capitalize on the Bruins’ miscues while the Bruins continually gifted the ball back to the Bears.
“I don’t know how many penalties we ended up with. I don’t care who you’re playing, with 11 penalties and six turnovers, that’s too big a mountain to have to climb against any opponent,” said offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.
“You have to take care of the football and you can’t have foolish penalties and we had a share of both of those tonight.”