PASADENA >> UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson celebrated his 21st birthday with a 34-10 victory over Cal at the Rose Bowl on Sunday, Nov. 15. It was the Bruins’ first victory in a home opener since 2017.
The Bruins are now 1-1 and hold a .500 record for the first time during coach Chip Kelly’s tenure. Kelly lost his first five games as the Bruins’ coach in 2018 and three straight to start the 2019 season.
Thompson-Robinson shook off a first-quarter interception, by Cal defensive back and Corona Centennial High alumnus Camryn Bynum, to lead the Bruins to a touchdown on four of their next five possessions.
That was a much better result than the four turnovers the Bruins had in the first half of last week’s 48-42 loss to Colorado.
Thompson-Robinson gave the Bruins their first lead of the game in the first quarter with a 2-yard keeper.
The quarterback followed that with touchdown passes to three different receivers in the second quarter, including Charles Njoku’s first career touchdown catch. Thompson-Robinson finished the contest 14 of 26 passing for 196 yards.
The Bruins seemed to build some confidence when Thompson-Robinson scored on a 2-yard run around right end for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 58 seconds remaining in the first quarter to put them ahead 7-3.
After the defense forced Cal to punt, UCLA continued its positive momentum and added to its lead.
Njoku caught a 27-yard TD pass to put UCLA ahead 14-3, and Chase Cota caught a touchdown to make it 20-10.
Kyle Philips continued his role as a top target for Thompson-Robinson by catching three of seven passes for 16 yards and a touchdown. Philips, who was the Bruins’ leading receiver in 2019, made it 27-10 at halftime with a 5-yard TD catch.
Cal quarterback Chase Garbers used his legs for a pair of 8-yard runs, providing a first down on third-and-6 and an 8-yard touchdown run that cut UCLA’s lead to 14-10 with 7:10 left in the second quarter.
Running back Christopher Brown Jr. played a key role on Cal’s second-quarter scoring drive with three catches for 15 yards.
UCLA’s defense held Cal to 174 yards of total offense.
The Bruins and Golden Bears weren’t originally slated to face each other this season, but the conference scheduled the matchup on Friday after Cal’s game against Arizona State and UCLA’s matchup against Utah were canceled due to several positive COVID-19 tests for the Sun Devils and Utes.
This story will be updated.