This post was updated Nov. 25 at 1:09 a.m.
The Bruins snatched their bowl eligibility, but lost their star quarterback.
UCLA football (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12) got the win it needed to reach .500 and qualify for a bowl game in a 30-27 win over California (5-7, 2-7) on Friday night, although junior signal caller Josh Rosen only played in the first half.
Rosen completed 13-of-18 passes for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns before halftime. He was sacked for the third time on the Bruins’ last offensive play of the half. After lying down in the grass face-first for a couple seconds, he got up slowly and his jersey was torn.
Offensive coordinator and interim head coach Jedd Fisch said Rosen was pulled for precautionary reasons.
“He got hit pretty hard on that one sack,” Fisch said. “He wants to make sure that he is healthy for the bowl game as well.”
Redshirt freshman Devon Modster took over quarterback duties in the second half and finished 14-of-18 for 191 yards.
And when UCLA needed its backup quarterback the most – with the game locked in a 27-27 tie in the fourth quarter – Modster led the team down the field with 2:22 left for a game-winning field goal.
“(Modster’s) a baller,” said redshirt junior wideout Jordan Lasley. “I’ve been seeing (Modster) throw the ball like that since he was in 11th or 12th grade. … I feel like (Modster) played a really good game given the circumstances.”
Sophomore kicker JJ Molson drilled the 37-yarder and left four seconds on the clock, only enough time for a California play that ended when a UCLA defender swatted a lateral away.
“Every kicker visualizes a game-winning situation,” Molson said. “But, you know, you got to react when it comes up and I’m happy our guys executed when we needed to execute.”
Modster had two 30-plus-yard passes to Lasley, each of which came when the Bruins needed momentum to swing their way.
The Golden Bears had just tied the game at 17 with a two-point conversion when Modster assembled a touchdown drive largely thanks to a 37-yard pass to Lasley down the left sideline.
Early in the fourth quarter, freshman defensive end Jaelan Phillips sacked California quarterback Ross Bowers on 4th and 3 to force a turnover on downs. On the very next play, Modster tossed Lasley a 41-yarder. The drive ended with a field goal, giving the Bruins a 10-point lead.
“(Lasley)’s a big target, fast,” Modster said. “He’s just one of those guys you can trust down the field. You know, a couple times I under-threw him and he just made a play.”
Lasley finished with a career-high 227 yards on 12 receptions in his third game since returning from a disciplinary suspension.
“I love the way he’s playing, I love the way he’s competing,” Fisch said. “He’s taken on an attitude of, ‘Hey, I want to take my game to the next level.’ His impact was enormous tonight.”
Brand new back
Brandon Stephens was the Bruins’ primary ball-carrier Friday, totaling 83 yards on 20 attempts with a long of 37 – also adding three receptions for 35 yards. The sophomore running back scored the first touchdown of his collegiate career on a 1-yard rush in the third quarter.
Going into the game, the sophomore had only rushed for 100 yards on the season.
Junior running back Soso Jamabo looked to be UCLA’s top option at the game’s start – coming up with 23 yards on four attempts – but didn’t carry the ball again after the Bruins’ first drive.
That drive ended on a fumble from junior running back Bolo Olorunfunmi who twisted his ankle on the play. The junior running back only got three carries, two of which came in the first quarter.
Back to bowling
UCLA is now poised to make an appearance in a bowl game for the 13th time in the last 16 seasons, including five of six years during the Jim Mora era. The Bruins missed out on a bowl game last year after finishing with a 4-8 record.
“Not going to one (last season) was just kind of like, ‘Whoa, we’re not playing in the postseason? I’m at home in December?’” Lasley said. “I’m like, nah, … let’s get this win for my teammates and then we can go bowling.”