Recapping UCLA’s 40-24 win over No. 20 Cal

UCLA snapped its two-game losing streak on Thursday by beating a higher-ranked team for the fifth time in its four years under Jim Mora. Here’s our coverage from the Bruins’ 40-24 win over No. 20 Cal at the Rose Bowl.

» UCLA still has tough climb ahead in the Pac-12 South race, but delivered an encouraging performance after back-to-back losses.
» In what was expected to be an exciting quarterback duel, UCLA’s true freshman Josh Rosen came out on top.
» Mark Whicker’s column on UCLA’s solid defensive showing against the Bears.

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UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn having a stellar senior season

Jim Mora was ready to try a Hail Mary.

With just three seconds left in the first half against No. 20 Cal on Thursday, UCLA had backed itself up five yards with a false start. The 55-yard field goal that Ka’imi Fairbairn just hit? It didn’t count.

So faced with trying an incredible 60-yard attempt, the fourth-year head coach figured he had a better chance at airing out a 42-yard pass. Backup quarterback and holder Jerry Neuheisel disagreed.

“Jerry said, ‘No, he’s got it. He’s got it. Just kick it again,'” Mora said. “I asked him at halftime, ‘How’d you know?’ He said, ‘I heard the boom of the ball on the 55-yarder. I knew he’d strike it.'”

Indeed. The senior booted the ball through the uprights from 60 yards away, sending it past the band and nearly into the stands. It easily broke the school record of 56 yards, set in 1997 by Chris Sailer.

Sailer is now best known as the preeminent expert in special teams recruiting, running a camp that helps develop kickers and punters hoping to earn scholarships. Fairbairn was one such pupil, traveling to Las Vegas to learn back in 2011. Continue reading

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