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Bruins’ run game disappoints again

Bruins’ run game disappoints again
UCLA running back Nate Starks tries to bound outside against California's defense during the first half. (Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

For the briefest of moments Saturday, there was something new to UCLA's run game. A flicker of hope.

Nate Starks ran for 15 yards on the Bruins' second drive and then followed it up on the next play with a 17-yard run in which he slipped a tackle while sprinting into California's secondary.

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They were the kind of hard-charging runs UCLA wanted far more of this season but failed to generate with any sort of consistency.

It was largely the same story during the Bruins' 36-10 season-ending loss to the Golden Bears at Memorial Stadium.

UCLA matched its season average, rushing for 84 yards, but it felt like less considering the opponent. California entered the game having allowed an average of 290 rushing yards per game, the second-worst total among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams. The Bruins rushed for only 10 yards in the second half while operating out of catch-up mode.

"If we make the plays that were presented to us, the chains will move and we'll stay on schedule," UCLA offensive coordinator Kennedy Polmalu of his team's struggles running the ball. "We just haven't had that this year. We weren't good enough to overcome some of those things."

UCLA did escape one bit of ignominy by surpassing 1,000 yards rushing for the season, something only two teams in school history have failed to do since 1945.

Starks led UCLA with 73 yards in 11 carries, an average of 6.6 yards per carry. No one else rushed for more than eight yards.

The Bruins finished the season topping 200 yards rushing in a game only once, against Nevada Las Vegas, and did not have one ballcarrier reach 100 yards in a game.

Composure check

UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley figured he might be a bit antsy in what amounted to a homecoming in his final college game, and that's exactly the way it played out.

McKinley jumped offsides in the first quarter, giving California a first down on a drive that resulted in a field goal. His late hit in the second quarter led to another first down on a drive that also ended in a field goal. McKinley said California center Addison Ooms was moving the ball before the snap and making noises, triggering his offsides penalty.

"In the Pac-12, they're not going to call that, so that's on me," McKinley said. "I have to be more disciplined and not jump offsides."

McKinley, who grew up in nearby Richmond and originally committed to California before being deemed a non-qualifier, finished the game with 11 tackles and two quarterback hurries.

"I mean, it sucks," McKinley said of the ending to his college career. "We're 4-8, not bowl eligible. It was a rough season but I enjoyed my three years at UCLA, wouldn't trade it for nothing."

Quick hits

UCLA tight end Nate Iese returned after missing the Bruins' game against USC because of a knee injury but did not make a catch. …

Cornerback Fabian Moreau was hurt in the first quarter and did not return. …

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Josh Wariboko-Alali and Poasi Moala started at guard because of injuries to Najee Toran and Kenny Lacy.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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