Sheer Bruin EUPHORIA - Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
FAIRBAIRN! HUNDLEY! EVANS! THIGPEN! FRANKLIN!
I had a spectacular post game written up. I was writing it during the second half, and it had details of how the first half was actually pretty good for us.
And then the second half happened. And in particular, the fourth quarter happened.
In the first quarter, we were immediately down 14-0, with Steven Manfro assisting with a muff on special teams. Again. On punt coverage. ASU converts for the touchdown easily, and scores again quickly by shredding through our defense, which while they had their moments, still gave up over 500 yards to ASU. Not a pretty day.
We managed to come back and score with Johnathan Franklin running for it, slashing his way to the end zone, Joseph Fauria being tall and catching balls, and Brett Hundley meeting up with Devin Fuller for his first career catch and touchdown, bring the score to 14-14.
After another UCLA failure on offense, we luckily have a guy who can punt - Jeff Locke - and winds up pinning ASU at their three. The defensive line gets a great push, and Taylor Kelly, instead of taking the safety, tries to throw the ball away.. right at Dalton Hilliard. The ball is intercepted, and Hundley hands the ball off to Franklin for probably one of the easier touchdowns in his career.
We head into halftime with the lead, 21-17, and momentum. Awesome. We'll get the ball to start the second half.... WAIT. WE'RE KICKING OFF? WHAT HAPPENED? Locke was out to take the coin toss, because the captains were late of the locker room. Due to this, Locke elected to kick. Due to his choice, ASU had the choice to start the second, and of COURSE they elect to receiver. Cripes. This leads to a possibly important field goal by ASU and the score of 21-20 UCLA. (Shoutout to Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt with some nice defensive plays on the ASU drive for the field goal.)
Thankfully, we don't let that get to us, and we strike back right away, with a beautiful throw by Hundley after he escapes the pressure, and Damien Thigpen does the rest, streaking down the field for a 65 yard touchdown. Unfortunately at this point, the defense cannot stop ASU, and they just keep coming. ASU scores, but Sheldon Price actually manages to defend and keep ASU from converting the 2 point conversion attempt. Whew.
On the next drive, Johnathan Franklin picks up his 100th yard rushing, marking the 4th time this season he's done this on the road. Shaq Evans comes up with some nice catches on this drive, and it ends with Hundley lofting the ball to Joseph Fauria in the end zone, who bangs the ball around from one hand to the other and manages to garner control. Too bad the game wasn't in complete control!
ASU begins the "screen show" and we just cannot stop them. ASU scores. We can't do anything. We punt. They can't do anything. They punt. We have Damien Thigpen and Brett Hundley. TOUCHDOWN UCLA. BACK UP BY 9.
Unfortunately, Steven Manfro is still out on special teams and is offsides on the kickoff. Then we are hit with the latest flag known to mankind on 4th and 6, as Stan McKay is flagged for pass interference, keeping ASU's drive alive. The take the points, and are down by six. Unfortunately, on our next drive, a holding penalty really kills the drive, Jerry Johnson has a pass go right through his arms, and Brett Hundley is absolutely bullrushed and goes down at the five. We punt (thank you Jeff Locke) but Arizona State marches right down the field, and scores. ARGH. 43-42, Arizona State.
At this point, we all know this is coming down to a field goal by Fairbairn. He looked fine on his PATs today, but he hasn't made a field goal over 36 yards this year. The goal was to get the ball as close as possible, and just hope we have enough time. Somehow, with passes to Fauria, Manfro, Thigpen, and Evans, and a few rushes by Franklin, we manage to get to the 15 yard line with 4 seconds left.
Timeout. Hey we managed our timeouts well!
33 yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn. I was worried the snap was a bit high, but Locke gets it down... AND IT'S GOOD! UCLA WINS! 45-43! An absolute confidence builder for Fairbairn, and for this entire team, knowing that even when they're down, they can still come back. GREAT JOB BRUINS.
You know what? WE'RE BOWL ELIGIBLE. IN OCTOBER. Although our overall goals for this season are way more than bowl eligibility, we may have accomplished something small today - confidence for our kicker, and confidence that we can come from behind and put together the drive that we need to to win games. Yeah that sentence didn't make sense. Lots of this game didn't make sense. You know what makes sense?
(If you'd like to discuss other non-UCLA related football today, please head over here.)