UCLA Football played their regular season finale at home Saturday night against California, completing their first undefeated season on its home field since 2005, becoming bowl eligible all in one night with a 30-27 victory over the Golden Bears.
“Our players are so excited right now that they get to go to a bowl game,” said UCLA interim coach Jedd Fisch. “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 he was able to end his legacy as the head coach of UCLA as a guy who led five out his six teams that he coached here to bowl games, so we’re very respectful of that and in term, we’re very excited to move forward.”
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen possibly played his final game at the Rose Bowl if he forgoes his senior season to enter the NFL draft, which is expected.
Rosen completed 13 of 18 passes for 202 yards in the first half, connecting with Jordan Lasley and Theo Howard for scores, giving him 59 touchdowns for his career, as he also finished only 283 yards shy of 4,000 yards for the season.
The star quarterback however, was sacked three times on the night; each hit seemed to be worse than the last.
The most brutal of them all, came by Cal’s Alex Funches late in the first half, where he sent Rosen to ground, landing viciously on his right shoulder and neck.
Rosen remained in the game for three more plays but ultimately would not return in second half, showing frustration, as he slammed his helmet to the ground on the sideline.
Coach Jedd Fisch wouldn’t fully speak on the injury at hand but did relate his decision to sit Rosen in the second half for precautionary reasons.
“We want to make sure that he is healthy for the bowl game,” Fisch said. “He got hit pretty hard on that one sack and he wants to make sure that he is healthy for the bowl game as well.”
Devon Modster took over for the Bruins at quarterback, as the team rallied behind the redshirt freshman, as he found out he would be starting the second half at halftime.
“It was definitely a great experience, but I wouldn’t wanna experience it with any other people besides my teammates right now,” said Modster who completed 14 of 18 passes for 191 yards and drove the Bruins down the field to set up J.J. Molson’s 37-yard game-winning field goal.
“We did it for the seniors, for Coach Mora, for Coach Fisch, and for Coach Mora’s legacy,” Molson said. “It’s definitely different without Coach Mora … there’s kind of a void, but Coach Fisch did a great job of telling us to carry on his legacy. This week was a bit weird, but we just practiced every day and got the job done.”
Modsters arm strength was on display midway through the third quarter, as he connected with Jordan Lasley for 37 yards, followed by another beautiful strike to Eldridge Massington for a gain of 16.
Running back Brandon Stephens then finished the six play, 58-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run for the Bruins, putting them back on top 24-17.
Jordan Lasley set career highs with 12 receptions for 227 yards and a touchdown for the Bruins, as the junior walked out on senior night with his teammates before the game, raising some questions as if he may be declaring his name for the NFL draft.
“I actually didn’t know I walking out with the seniors until about three or four hours before the game, coach Fisch just said that I was and that was his decision,” said Lasley. “It’s something I’ll have to talk to my family about, pray on and just have different conversations on with people I trust about that, but I have no idea what I will do.”
With 2:22 to play in the fourth quarter, Cal receiver Jordan Veasy caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ross Bowers, making the score tied at 27-27 all, but the Golden Bears ultimately fell just short surrendering the Bruins their fifth bowl appearance of their last six seasons.
UCLA will play their last game of the season at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana on Dec. 27 with an opponent to be decided at The Sentinel presstime.