He spent the rest of the night making UCLA’s defense pay for his mistake.
Maynard matched his career high with four touchdown passes and added a fifth on the ground and California took advantage of six turnovers to stun No. 25 UCLA 43-17 on Saturday night.
“We had a huge week of practice this week and everybody was focused in,” said Maynard, who completed 25 of 30 passes for 295 yards. “We prepared ourselves … and we had a lot of fire behind our backs. It was a great outcome.”
Coming off one of the worst games of his career, Maynard repeatedly picked himself up off the turf at Memorial Stadium after getting drilled by the Bruins defense to help the Golden Bears (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12) end their three-game losing streak.
By beating UCLA (4-2, 1-2) at home for the seventh straight time, Cal might have also decreased some of the pressure on coach Jeff Tedford.
“It was much needed, no doubt about it,” Tedford said. “It’s been a tough few weeks. That’s definitely going to give us a boost. But even though this is very satisfying and gratifying for our team, we know we still have a lot of work to do.”
The outlook is a lot more promising for the Bears following the upset win over their conference rivals.
Maynard, who completed only 9 of 28 passes in last week’s loss to Arizona State, was almost flawless against UCLA. He completed 13 consecutive throws during one stretch in the second half.
The Bears’ senior quarterback also scored on a 1-yard keeper in the fourth quarter following a 42-yard interception return by safety Mike Lowe.
All of this after his first pass of the night ended in the arms of UCLA safety Andrew Abbott.
“I just had to shake it off,” Maynard said. “I thought Keenan (Allen) was going to come out a little bit faster out of his break, but he was double covered. I should have just thrown it out of bounds. Made a bad play worse.”
Little else went wrong for the Bears.
Richard Rodgers caught seven passes for 129 yards while Allen caught a pair of touchdowns and finished with eight receptions to move into third place on Cal’s career list.
C.J. Anderson added 151 yards rushing, 68 on a touchdown run in the fourth quarter to extend Cal’s lead to 26 points.
Johnathan Franklin ran for 103 yards for UCLA, which lost for the second time in three games and is likely to fall out of the rankings again.
In addition to the six turnovers, the Bruins also committed 12 penalties on their mistake-filled night.
“We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves,” Bruins coach Jim Mora said. “You know when you go on the road in a hostile environment and you turn the ball over six times, it’s going to be tough to win. We got beaten by a good team … and we got beat solidly.”
As sharp as the offense was, it was Cal’s defense that made the difference.
Hundley, the redshirt freshman who has looked strong running UCLA’s spread offense, never found his rhythm. He had a season-high 31 completions and passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns, but couldn’t prevent the Bruins from remaining winless at Memorial Stadium since 1998.
“There was a lot of pressure but I can do better with my reads,” Hundley said. “They just executed real well. The penalties hurt. With this kind of offense, it kills your tempo.”
The ending was in sharp contrast to the opening drive for UCLA.
The Bruins got creative when Hundley threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Cassius Marsh, a defensive end who lined up on the left side of the offensive line then ran a short out pattern. It’s a formation UCLA has used previously this season, but the first time Marsh, a 275-pound senior, has scored.
Cal responded with a 26-yard field goal by Vicenzo D’Amato then took the lead on Maynard’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Anderson midway through the second quarter. Maynard got the drive started with a 42-yard completion to tight end Rodgers then capped it with the throw to Anderson, who beat safety Tevin McDonald on an slant pattern.
After UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 46-yard field goal attempt, the Bruins forced a punt but Kenny Orjioke ran into return man Steven Manfro as Manfro was calling for a fair catch. The ball hit Orjioke in the back and Cal pounced on it.
Five plays later, Maynard connected with Allen for an 8-yard touchdown on an inside slant play similar to the one run by Anderson.
The Bruins committed their third turnover of the first half when Hundley threw an interception in the end zone after the intended receiver stopped his route well short of the goal line.
Maynard threw touchdowns on Cal’s first two drives in the second half to push the lead to 29-14.
UCLA pulled within 29-17 on Fairbairn’s 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, but Cal’s defense came up with two more interceptions to secure the win.