Saturday, 25 November 2017 16:08

Bruins Bowl Eligible By Beating Cal, 30-27

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UCLA Molson CalThe regular season came to an end for the Bruins and it ended how it started with a thrilling victory in the Rose Bowl. UCLA remained undefeated at home winning all six of their contests. However, it wasn’t easy.

It took a team effort for UCLA (6-6, 4-5) to upend Cal (5-7, 2-7) in final seconds of the game, 30-27. The road to victory had many heroes for the Bruins.

There was an outstanding and poised relief effort by redshirt freshman quarterback, Devon Modster, who played the entire second half when starter Josh Rosen went out with an injury.

The Bruins were winning the ball game 17-9 when Rosen was injured, and the UCLA offense was humming. In a half of work, Rosen completed 13 of his passes out of 18 attempts and threw for two touchdowns.

When the second-half began it was Modster leading the troops. He stepped right in and when the game was on the line late in fourth-quarter, the game all locked up, 27-27, the Bruin freshman quarterback calmly and cooly, led the team down the field with 2:18 left on the clock, engineering a 10 play 55-yard drive, setting up sophomore placekicker, JJ Molson’s 37-yard game-winning field goal with four ticks left on the clock.

“Josh [Rosen], we pulled at halftime for some precautionary reasons,” UCLA interim head coach Jedd Fisch said. “We want to make sure he is healthy for the bowl game. He got hit pretty hard on that one sack. And he wants to make sure that he’s healthy, too.

“I told Devon, ‘I thought that you played one great half of football and that you were 8-for-8 against Utah, and then we lost you in that second half. And here is your second half.’ Let’s play a complete game. What’s cooler than that?

“I think that we were up 17-9 at halftime. I told our guys that if we could win each quarter, we’d win that game. Devon went in there. He did a great job of leading our football team. He did a great job of finding ways to get us down there and to put us in a position, with 27-27 all, with two minutes and 20 seconds left, and not taking a lot of reps in practice — tremendous by everybody.

“We had Brandon Stephens stepping up. He played more in this game than he has ever played. We’re excited for our guys and how hard they played. I’m excited for all of our players.”

Stephens was outstanding.He had a 37-yard run in the second quarter, his longest career run. His 20 rushing attempts and 83 yards were both career highs. In the third-quarter, Stephens scored his first touchdown as a Bruin.

Junior wide receiver, Jordan Lasley, had his second straight monster game. Lasley had a career-high 12 receptions, a game-high 227 receiving yards, and one touchdown. One can only wonder what his stats could have been if he didn’t get suspended for three games.

Now the Bruins are bowl eligible and will have the opportunity to get that elusive win away from the Rose Bowl. Fisch couldn’t be happier.

“Our players are so excited right now, that they get to go to a bowl game,” Fisch said. “Our players were so excited that they’re 6-0 and went undefeated at the Rose Bowl. And our whole football operation, from the trainers to the doctors, from the equipment managers to the coaching staff to the strength staff to the nutrition staff, we’re all appreciative of this opportunity. We are obviously excited as a program.

“We also feel that we owe this win to Coach Mora. And we wanted to make sure that we were able to end his legacy as the head coach at UCLA, as a guy that led five of his six teams to bowl games. So, we are very respectful of that.

“In turn, we are extremely excited to move forward and to be 1-0 in this capacity — to be a six-win team, to go and play a bowl game and to go and enjoy this and celebrate this.”

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