- Associated Press - Saturday, October 18, 2014

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - After back-to-back losses, a season that began with talk of a possible national title at UCLA was in danger of spiraling out of control.

That’s when a big play from a defensive back just lucky to be playing football again helped the Bruins reverse their slide.

Marcus Rios intercepted a pass near the goal line in the final minute to thwart a potential game-winning drive by California and help UCLA snap seven-game skid at Memorial Stadium with a 36-34 victory over the Golden Bears on Saturday.

Rios missed the 2013 season with a rare fungal infection that hospitalized him for more than two months as he lost more than 50 pounds. Rios, who was told by doctors he may not survive, eventually recovered and returned to the field this summer. He then saved UCLA’s season with the interception that earned him a game ball.

“That felt great,” Rios said. “I’m just blessed to be out here. I’ve been through a lot. If it wasn’t for all the fans, my family and all the support, I wouldn’t be here right now.”



Brett Hundley threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns and added 94 yards and a touchdown on the ground to overcome his own fumble and interception and give the Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) their first win in Berkeley since 1998.

It wasn’t easy with the Bruins not taking the lead for good until Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked a 26-yard field goal with 3:40 remaining that got UCLA back on the winning track after losses to Utah and Oregon.

“We had to win,” Hundley said. “We don’t put excess pressure on ourselves, but the harsh reality is we are 5-2. That’s good but we still had stuff that we could get to. If we win out and do what we’re supposed to do, we can still get to the Pac-12 championship.”

The win was sealed when Rios made a juggling interception on a Jared Goff pass at the 2-yard line with 51 seconds left to thwart Cal’s comeback attempt.

The Bears (4-3, 2-3) had gotten to the UCLA 36 and needed only a few more yards for a potential game-winning field goal when Goff took the ill-advised deep shot.

“It was just not a very smart play by me,” Goff said. “It was a similar play that I had thrown a touchdown on earlier. I thought I’d get it again. I kind of forced it a little bit and it was probably not the best play in that situation.

Goff threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns for the Bears, who have lost back-to-back home games after an impressive 4-1 start to the season.

There was a scary moment late in the game when Cal’s Trevor Davis had to be taken off the field on a stretcher after being injured on a kickoff return. Davis was down on the turf for several minutes as teammates watched anxiously. He was able to move his legs and talk, and gave a thumb’s up to the crowd before being taken to the hospital.

“He said he felt OK,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “He’s going to the hospital but certainly signs from the field all looked good.”

UCLA moved the ball with ease for most of the game, punting just three times on 15 drives. But they committed three turnovers that turned into short touchdown drives for Cal, which proved to be a big factor in the game.

The most costly came midway through the fourth quarter when the Bruins had the ball in Cal territory looking to add to a 5-point lead. But Hundley threw behind Jordan Payton and Cameron Walker cut in front for an interception that he returned to the UCLA 32.

That set up Goff’s 23-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to Kenny Lawler that gave the Bears a 34-33 lead with less than 7 minutes to play.

But Hundley responded by leading the field goal drive and then got the big play from his defense to win it.

“They refuse to be discouraged,” Mora said. “They get down after the losses but they keep coming back. We’ve done that in games and we’re doing it through the season. Now we need to build on that.”

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