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UCLA football holds 3-point lead over California heading into halftime

Redshirt junior running back Kazmeir Allen breaks a tackle en route to the end zone in the first half of UCLA football’s matchup against California. Allen scored his second-career rushing touchdown in the second quarter. (Jason Zhu/Daily Bruin staff)

By Bryan Palmero

Nov. 27, 2021 9:27 p.m.

Chip Kelly has never won a regular-season finale during his tenure in Westwood.

After 30 minutes of football Saturday night, the fourth-year coach is halfway to breaking that record.

UCLA football (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) holds a 17-14 advantage over California (4-6, 3-4) entering halftime at the Rose Bowl. Kelly has been winless in three straight Senior Nights since he took on the coaching helm in 2018.

After forcing a quick three-and-out from the Golden Bears on the first possession of the game, the Bruins – like the band during the team’s senior-night celebration – marched down the field. An eight-play, 57-yard UCLA drive culminated in a 41-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore kicker Nicholas Barr-Mira.

Cal jump-started its next possession with a 58-yard kick return from wide receiver Nikko Remigio to place the ball in UCLA territory, but a turnover on downs stifled any chance at a response. After the Bruins punted the ball back, the Golden Bears’ subsequent series ended in senior defensive back Jay Shaw’s third interception of the season. 

Against the Pac-12’s best rushing defense, UCLA unleashed a quarter-ending drive that alternated between the ground and the air. 

With no two consecutive plays of the same type, the Bruins switched between senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and junior running back Zach Charbonnet to travel down to the Golden Bears’ 3-yard line by the period’s conclusion. 

A Thompson-Robinson pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Kyle Philips in the opening minute of the second quarter resulted in the first touchdown of the game, putting the Bruins up 10-0.

The leading signal-caller from Kelly’s first recruiting class, Thompson-Robinson finished the first half of his senior season home finale with 63 yards passing on 11 completions.

On the other sideline, Cal responded by exceeding UCLA’s 35 rushing yards with 52 of its own on the ground over a single possession, closing the gap to three with a 14-yard touchdown carry from running back Christopher Brooks.

A muffed kickoff by redshirt junior running back Kazmeir Allen – who delivered a 100-yard return a week prior – placed the Golden Bears right back into the red zone, where they would score five plays later on a run from quarterback Chase Garbers. 

But Allen would redeem himself. In a drive that lasted more than six minutes – the longest of the game – UCLA took the ball 56 yards down the field. With 8 yards separating the home team from retaking the advantage, Allen obtained the ball for his first rushing attempt of the game and scampered all the way to the end zone. 

Up by three, the Bruins will receive the ball to open the final half of their regular-season campaign.

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Bryan Palmero | Assistant Sports editor
Palmero is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats.
Palmero is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats.
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