This post was updated Oct. 13 at 8:37 p.m.
BERKELEY—Joshua Kelley’s teammates said he always has a smile on his face.
And on Saturday, all the Bruins shared the same grin as their redshirt junior running back.
Kelley picked apart Cal’s defense for three touchdowns, and UCLA (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12) defeated Cal (3-3, 0-3) 37-7 to snap its worst start since 1943.
“We have to run the ball,” Kelley said. “It just helps us out, we can get the ball to our playmakers if we just start getting the running game going.”
After redshirt senior safety Adarius Pickett recovered a Cal fumble in the first quarter, the Bruins scored on three consecutive drives. Kelley accounted for 84 of the 164 yards on those possessions and finished with 157 yards on 30 carries – he was the first UCLA player to record three consecutive 100-yard running performances since Jordan James in 2013.
Kelley also made a seven-yard reception in the flat on a 4th-and-1 play in the third quarter to set up his third rushing touchdown.
In total, the Bruins ran the ball a whopping 55 times compared to only 15 pass attempts for freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who finished with only 141 passing yards.
“The fun part for me was it wasn’t throwing the ball down the field as much as I would probably like to,” said Thompson-Robinson, who completed his first nine passes. “It was more me being able to find a rhythm.”
Cal couldn’t find a rhythm for most of the game, and only had one sustained drive end in a touchdown.
The Bears’ drive at the end of the first half ended in a missed field goal, but they opened the second half with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took up more than six minutes.
But the Bruins’ offense immediately answered with an 83-yard drive aided by two Cal personal fouls. Kelley pushed the pile into the end zone from one yard out to put UCLA back up by two possessions.
Turnovers also helped Thompson-Robinson win UCLA’s first conference road game since 2015.
Sophomore cornerback Darnay Holmes forced a fumble, and junior inside linebacker Krys Barnes and redshirt junior outside linebacker Keisean Lucier-South both intercepted Cal quarterback Brandon McIlwain.
Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Odua Isibor recorded his first career sack and forced fumble, which Lucier-South returned for a touchdown. Lucier-South also strip-sacked McIlwain late in the fourth quarter, and junior linebacker Lokeni Toailoa recovered the fumble.
UCLA doubled the number of turnovers it forced in the first five games of the season.
“I just liked the energy that these guys played with tonight in all three phases,” said coach Chip Kelly. “We’re starting to realize that all that hard work they’ve put in has paid off for them, so I think this (game) is a good example for them to learn from.”