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Football heads into halftime up 27-10 against California despite messy start

Redshirt freshman receiver Charles Njoku scored his first collegiate touchdown in the second quarter as UCLA football leads California going into halftime of the Bruins’ home opener at the Rose Bowl. (Tanmay Shankar/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Sam Connon

Nov. 15, 2020 10:54 a.m.

It looked like more of the same for the Bruins early Sunday morning.

UCLA football (0-1) ended its first two offensive drives against California (0-0) with a blocked punt and an interception, and the Golden Bears were able to take a 3-0 lead. That all came after UCLA coughed up the ball four times in the first half of its 48-42 loss to Colorado last week.

Now it’s the Bruins who lead 27-10 at the half, thanks in large part to an early offensive turnaround.

After a penalty pushed it back 5 yards to its own 7-yard line, UCLA picked up 93 yards on 15 plays to take a 7-3 lead. Coach Chip Kelly utilized an up-tempo, no-huddle approach on the drive, and it ended in a 2-yard touchdown keeper by junior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

The Bruins forced their second three-and-out of the game on the other end before coming back with another long scoring drive to extend their first half lead.

Redshirt freshman receiver Charles Njoku grabbed the quick slant from Thompson-Robinson and ran it in from 27 yards out to put UCLA up 14-3.

Cal narrowed things up a bit with a 75-yard scoring drive of its own, but UCLA answered by going 67 yards in 1:14 to stretch the lead back to double digits via a 6-yard touchdown from Thompson-Robinson to junior receiver Chase Cota.

The Bruins finished the half with 265 yards after picking up just 22 on their first two drives.

Thompson-Robinson’s counterpart, Chase Garbers, started his day 2-of-6 with 10 yards, but also had a touchdown on the ground. His final pass attempt of the half was an interception, which set up UCLA’s fourth and final touchdown of the half – a 5-yard connection from Thompson-Robinson to redshirt sophomore receiver Kyle Philips.

Outside of forcing Garbers into a late pick, the defense also racked up six tackles for loss. Redshirt junior linebacker Caleb Johnson accounted for 1.5 of them, and he recorded the interception as well.

The Bears will receive the ball to open the second half.

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Sam Connon | Sports senior staff
Connon is currently a Sports senior staff writer for the football and men's basketball beats. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats from 2018-2019 and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats from 2017-2018. Connon also contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment and co-hosts Daily Bruin Sports' weekly podcast, "Out of Bounds." Connon is a rising fourth-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.
Connon is currently a Sports senior staff writer for the football and men's basketball beats. He was the Sports editor for the 2019-2020 academic year, an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, men's soccer, cross country, men's golf and women's golf beats from 2018-2019 and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats from 2017-2018. Connon also contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment and co-hosts Daily Bruin Sports' weekly podcast, "Out of Bounds." Connon is a rising fourth-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.
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