After a defensive struggle in the first half of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the UCLA Bruins took a 7-3 lead into halftime over the Illinois Fighting Illini at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Both teams combined for just 185 yard and 12 first downs in the opening 30 minutes.
The Bruins were able to capitalize on a pair of failed fourth down conversions by the Illini.
It wasn't quite a turnover, but UCLA stopped Illinois on fourth-and-one at their own 45-yard line in the opening drive of the second quarter, which helped set up the first score of the game. The Bruins got their second first down of the game on a personal foul penalty that took them to the 35-yard line, and three plays later they found the end zone. Johnathan Franklin ran for 19 yards, then two plays later quarterback Kevin Prince found Taylor Embree for a 16-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Prince completed four of 10 passes for 58 yards in the first half.
Then, with 5:17 remaining in the half, Illinois had a chance to put points on the board, sending its field goal unit on the field for a fourth-and-one at the 23-yard line. However, rather than kick a 40-yard field goal, Illinois tried a fake with kicker Derek Dimke attempting to run for a first down. He lost four yards.
UCLA however was in a giving mood, and turned the ball right back over to Illinois, on a fumble that gave the Illini the ball at the 30-yard line. The Illini were able to drive to a first-and-goal from the five-yard line, but on third down from the three-yard line suffered a sack that took them back to the 18-yard line and erased any hopes of a tying touchdown.
The stars of the half might just be the punters for both teams, as Jeff Locke and Ryan Lankford combined for eight punts and a 46-yard average per punt.
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