PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Jaydn Ott had a 100-yard kickoff return, Jeremiah Hunter had a pair of touchdown receptions and California became bowl eligible for the first time in four years with a 33-7 victory over UCLA Saturday night in the final regular-season game under the current iteration of the Pac-12 Conference.
Fernando Mendoza had a pair of TD passes and Mateen Bhaghani kicked four field goals for the Golden Bears (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12), who won their last three games after four straight losses.
UCLA, which announced with Southern California last June that it was moving to the Big Ten Conference in 2024, has dropped three of its last four. The Pac-12 then was hit by a massive wave of defections in late July and August after the conference was unable to secure a lucrative television extension. Cal will join the Atlantic Coast Conference next year.
The Bruins (7-5, 4-5) committed four turnovers that resulted in 13 Cal points. The loss will also increase speculation about Chip Kelly’s future despite last week’s victory over USC. Kelly is 34-34 in six seasons in Westwood.
Quarterback Ethan Garbers’ night ended after 12 plays due to a right shoulder injury. Freshman Dante Moore was 23 of 38 for 276 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked six times.
After UCLA took a 7-6 lead on Logan Loya’s 5-yard touchdown catch, Ott fielded R.J. Lopez’s kick at the goal line. The sophomore found a seam near the Cal 20-yard line and then went up the right sideline the rest of the way.
It is tied for the third-longest kickoff return in Cal history and the sixth time it has had one of 100 yards or more with the last one coming nine years ago.
Ott also had 80 yards on 21 carries. Mendoza completed 19 of 30 for 178 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Cal led 6-0 at the end of the first quarter on a pair of field goals by Bhaghani. After UCLA linebacker Laiatu Latu picked off Mendoza’s pass and returned it to the Cal 8, the Bruins took the lead three plays later when Moore connected with Loya for a 5-yard TD.
UCLA’s advantage would be short lived though as Ott ran back the ensuing kickoff.
Cal extended its lead to 20-7 late in the first half. Three plays after Brett Johnson recovered Moore’s fumble at the UCLA 11, Hunter scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Mendoza with 10 seconds remaining.
Bhaghani had a 32-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and Hunter caught a 13-yard pass in the left corner of the end zone to further the Golden Bears’ advantage.
California: The Golden Bears snapped a three-game losing streak to their in-state rival. The two teams have played every year since 1933, but with conference realignment it is anyone’s guess when they might meet again.
UCLA: The Bruins finishing under .500 in the conference — in a season in which they did not face Oregon and Washington — and a slump in November for the second straight season have put Kelly on the hot seat.
Both teams will await their bowl destination and opponent.
Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here ___ AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football