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October 7, 2012

RECAP: Bears Blast Bruins



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BERKELEY - Brendan Bigelow got the first start of his career at California, (2-4, 1-2 PAC-12), but it took until the second half before he was able to make an impact on offense.

Senior quarterback Zach Maynard, on the other hand, after seeing his first pass of the evening picked off, went on to throw a career-high four touchdowns - including one to Bigelow -- and redshirt freshman cornerback Kameron Jackson came in for an injured Marc Anthony to record three interceptions to give the Bears a 43-17 victory over UCLA, (4-2, 1-2 PAC-12), Saturday night.

Maynard completed 25 of 30 attempts for 295 yards to go with his touchdown tosses, and rushed for one more score to lead the Bears. As usual, most of Maynard's passes were directed to his brother, Keenan Allen, who caught eight for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

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A new feature for the Cal offense was the use of tight end Richard Rodgers, who caught seven passes for 129 yards on the night.

While Rodgers added a new element to the offense, a lost staple returned in the form of a running game. C.J. Anderson brought back the deep running threat to a team in dire need of big gains on the ground. The senior tailback rushed for 155 yards on 21 carries with a long of 68 yards for his lone touchdown.

The Joe Roth Memorial Game win gives Cal much needed confidence heading into the rest of the season -- and the Bears accomplished it in the spirit of the legendary quarterback. Success for the Bears came after overcoming a poor start and several hurdles throughout the game.

Cal's first possession put the Bears on too-familiar ground early in the game.

On third-and-14 from the Cal 23-yard line, Maynard attempted an ill-advised pass to Allen while being double covered. UCLA strong safety Andrew Abbott stepped in front of the pass and went out of bounds at the 28 yard line.

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Had momentum not taken the senior defensive back out of bounds, he would have had an open path to the end zone.

The Bruins didn't need the defense to score for them. In seven plays, UCLA methodically marched down the field 28 yards for the first touchdown of the game. The touchdown came as a result of a four-yard pass from quarterback Brett Hundley to junior defensive end Cassius Marsh -- in the game as an extra tight end.

The Bears stormed back after getting down 7-0, but the storm petered to a light mist in the red zone. After starting the drive from their own 25, Cal used 16 plays to get to the UCLA nine-yard line before calling on Vince D'Amato for a 26-yard field goal to close the deficit to four points.

On the drive, Maynard completed seven passes on eight attempts for 47 yards while focusing on quick pass plays against UCLA's relentless rush. The Bears reached the six-yard line after freshman Bryce Treggs was forced down out of bounds by corner back Aaron Hester earning him a personal foul at the UCLA 17 yard line.

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Hester, who had been blown up trying to make a tackle on fullback Eric Stevens a few plays earlier seemed to be exacting revenge for the embarrassment. Fortunately for the Bruins, it didn't lead to a game-tying touchdown. After the penalty, Anderson rushed twice for one yard and Maynard was sacked for a loss of two.

Early in the second quarter, UCLA effortlessly drove down to the Cal 28 and appeared to be on its way to another score, but Hundley's backwards pass to backup quarterback Devin Fuller was dropped, and since the ball trajectory was in the wrong direction, it was ruled a live ball -- a ball which inside linebacker Nick Forbes recovered at the Bears' 33 yard line.

The fumble recovery energized the Cal offense. On the Bears' first play of the possession, Maynard connected with Rodgers for 42 yards, to set Cal up on UCLA's 25-yard line. The Bears got to the two yard line, with four downs to score, but a false start penalty on Harrison Wilfley put them on the seven.

On this drive, nothing would get in the way of a touchdown. From the five yard line on third and goal, Maynard tossed the ball to Anderson on a quick slant pattern for the score -- and a 10-7 Bears lead with 8:29 remaining in the first half.

The Bruins would again drive easily into Bear territory, but again shot themselves in the foot before they had the chance to score. A third-and-seven from the Cal 23 turned into third-and-12 from the 28-yard line due to substitution infraction - 12 men on the field. After an incomplete pass, UCLA called on their strong-legged kicker, Ka'imi Fairbairn for a 46-yard attempt that wound up going wide left.

Cal would not be able to capitalize this time around, but after failing to move the sticks on three plays, their special teams would force another opportunity.

Cole Leininger booted a 41-yard punt that was muffed by Bruin return man Damien Thigpen. After tumbling in the UCLA direction for nine yards lineman Jordan Rigsbee fell on top of the ball at the Bruins 34 yard line.

This time, the Bears would make the Bruins pay.

Anderson would rush for six yards, Maynard then connected with Rodgers and Allen on two consecutive plays for nine yards each, Stevens rushed for two yards, and then Maynard connected again with Allen on a slant pass for an eight-yard touchdown pass.

The only thing not going their way was the PAT -- which was blocked. With 2:47 remaining in the half, the Bears were on top of UCLA 16-7.

Cal would go into the locker room at the break leading by the same score, but only because of an interception in the end zone by Jackson -- who came in for an injured Anthony early in the game.

Momentum didn't shift after the half. The opening kickoff was returned by Thigpen to the UCLA 16 before being bulldozed by Cal tailback Daniel Lasco. Lasco, got to Thigpen so quickly that he was also blocked in the back -- forcing the Bruins to begin their first possession of the half from their own eight yard line.

UCLA was able to get a first down, but then the Cal defense bore down and forced a punt from the Bruins 15-yard line. Outside linebacker Chris McCain forced Hundley out of the pocket on second down and into defensive lineman Kendrick Payne for a seven-yard sack, then McCain forced Hundley to throw the ball away on third and 14.

Allen received the punt from the Cal 48 yard line, weaved in and out of traffic for a 20-yard return to setup the Bears' first possession on the Bruins 32 yard line. It took one play -- a screen to Bigelow -- and the Bears were on top 23-7 with 12:28 still remaining in the third quarter.

Bigelow caught the pass to the left of the line, ran around his blocker towards the sideline and streaked 32 yards untouched for the touchdown.

The Bruins wouldn't go away.

On the ensuing possession, UCLA put together a 74-yard, six play drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Hundley to Joseph Fauria and narrowed the scoring gap to 23-14 with 10:16 to go in the third quarter.

During the drive, Hundley completed passes to freshman wide receiver, and former Cal commit, Jordan Payton for 28 yards and Darius Bell for 18 yards to help get the Bruins back in the game.

Unlike no other game the Bears have played this year, Cal did not let the scoring drive take away the momentum they had already built. Behind the arm of Maynard, and the legs of Allen, the Bears put together a five play, 57-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a laser pass from Maynard to Allen streaking down the field for a 34-yard score.

Rather than being up 31-14, Cal had to settle for a 29-14 lead instead due to the second PAT of the night being blocked by UCLA.

The Bruins again drove the ball deep down into Cal territory to end the third quarter and begin the fourth. After ending three drives in Cal territory without getting points in the second quarter, UCLA was able to put together a 13-play, 77-yard drive, which concluded with a 29-yard field goal by Fairbairn to make the score 29-17 with 14:31 left to play.

Maynard answered back with a 50-yard pass to a wide-open Rodgers streaking down the field in a five wide receiver set. The pass play put Cal on the UCLA 25 yard line, and they would reach the 11 before the turnover bug hit both teams.

On second and nine, Anderson carried the ball up the middle and fumbled. The ball was recovered by the Bruins at the 10 yard line.

On second and eight from their 29-yard line, UCLA's Hundley fumbled the ball back 20 yards to the nine, and on the next play he threw a pick to Jackson -- his second on the night.

The Bears returned the favor two plays later when Bigelow coughed up the ball at mid field.

UCLA nearly put a stop to the comedy of errors, but a pass play that would have landed them on the Cal eight yard line was called back for holding -- putting the Bruins on the Cal 38, with a second and 16 play to go.

The Bruins struck with a 20-yard pass play to Shaquell Evans for a first down at the Cal 20 yard line. The biggest error of the night occurred on the next play when another big play by backup cornerback Jackson -- this time a tipped ball -fell into the hands of fellow Cal defensive back Michael Lowe, who returned the pick 42 yards to the UCLA 27 yard line.

Three rushes by Anderson, put the Bears on the Bruins one yard line -- setting up Maynard's one yard plunge into the end zone. This time, D'Amato's PAT was good, putting the Bears up 36-17 with just 6:32 remaining.

Anderson would later wind up putting the exclamation point on the victory.

With time winding down to less than two minutes left in the game, Anderson found a seam through the left side of the line and exploited the hole for a 68-yard touchdown run -- tip-toeing the final 10 yards on the sideline.

NOTES:
-- Allen's first quarter reception gave him 30 consecutive games with a catch - every game he's been in at Cal. The streak ties him for eighth in the nation and first in the PAC-12.
-- In the first half, Allen moved into third on Cal's all-time list in receptions. After finishing the game with eight receptions, he is now 17 away from besting Geoff McArthur (202) for the top spot with 185. With 10 more receptions, he will overtake Dameane Douglas (195) for second on the list.
-- The victory kept Jeff Tedford's home winning streak over UCLA alive. During his tenure as Cal's head coach, he has never lost a game to the Bruins in Memorial Stadium.
-- For Rodgers, it was the first time he earned over 100 yards receiving and the 50-yard reception was the longest of his Bears career.
-- The last time a Cal player had two or more interceptions in a game was when Sean Cattouse did it last season against Presbyterian.
-- Lowe's interception in the fourth quarter was his first of his career.
-- Cal recorded six turnovers on the night. The last time they accomplished this feat was in 2010, against Colorado.
-- Cal put together their longest drive of the season for their first score of the night, 16 plays for 66 yards. It was also the longest drive of the season, which lasted 6:35.
-- Cal has averaged 57,526 in four home games this season. The season opener remains the highest attendance of the season (63,186). Against UCLA, the attendance was barely over the average, officially listed at 57,643.


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