Through three quarters, the UCLA Bruins answered the question that was on every Bruin fans mind tonight. UCLA came out of the gate like they were playing a fifth quarter against Stanford.
On ASU’s first drive of the game, the UCLA defense turned the ball over on an Eno Benjamin fumble which was forced by Stephan Blaylock and recovered by Elisha Guidry on the ASU 42-yard line.
When UCLA’s offense took the field, Joshua Kelley carried on four of the Bruins’ five plays including a 24-yard run. Kelley’s one-yard plunge made it 7-0.
On the Arizona State Sun Devils’ second drive, the Bruin defense forced a punt but, on the third play of UCLA’s second drive, Dorian Thompson-Robinson fumbled after being hit in the backfield and the Sun Devils recovered on the Bruin four-yard line. Three plays later, the game was tied 7-7.
When the Bruins got the ball back, they responded by moving 81 yards in 16 plays. A five-yard run by Kelly gave UCLA the lead back with 14 seconds left in the first.
The Bruins’ next drive ate up more than half of the second quarter. UCLA took nearly eight and a half minutes to run 16 plays moving 80 yards. Kelley finished the drive with his third touchdown of the game on a 16-yard run.
UCLA got the ball back with just over a minute to go. DTR hit Martell Irby on a pair of passes for 10- and 12-yard gains, respectively. DTR eventually found Kyle Philips for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds left in the half and the Bruins went to the locker room up 28-7.
In the third quarter, UCLA and Josh Kelley picked up where they were in the first half as Kelley shouldered most of the offensive load for the Bruins and he scored his fourth TD of the game on a two-yard plunge.
The Bruin defense still looked strong despite giving up a 67-yard drive to the Sun Devils because they managed to hold ASU to just a 30-yard field goal, which was really the first points the defense had given up in this one.
UCLA closed out the third quarter with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Thompson-Robinson to Devin Asiasi and the Bruins led 42-10 after three quarters.
At this point, it’s important to note that it was dark in Pasadena. Being a conference game, #Pac12AfterDark and the terrible Pac-12 referees tried to combine to steal this game from the Bruins.
After another DTR fumble on which Thompson-Robinson was injured and forced to leave the game for good, ASU moved 36 yards on just three plays for a touchdown that cut the UCLA lead to 42-17. But, this one still seemed firmly in the Bruins’ grasp.
Austin Burton came into the game at quarterback on the next series and UCLA went three and out. On the resulting punt, Brandon Aiyuk returned it to the UCLA 28. Five plays later, Jayden Daniels found Nolan Matthews on a four-yard TD pass.
This much, everyone can agree with.
ASU went for two and Jaylen Shaw absolutely leveled the Sun Devils’ player who had the ball on the conversion attempt. He was stopped short of the end zone and the conversion had failed.
That’s when the Pac-12 replay booth stepped in and reviewed the play for targeting and, despite the fact that Shaw made contact with the opposing player in the shoulder, he was called for targeting from the replay booth and ejected.
Personally, I cannot wait for the conference’s explanation as part of the their new transparency policy on controversial calls.
So, between the targeting and two unsportsmanlike fouls called on the Bruins after the stop on the original two-point try, ASU easily converted the two-point conversion to make it 42-25.
The Bruins covered the onside kick but, on the eighth play of the drive, Kazmir Allen fumbled, which the Sun Devils capitalized on with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Daniels to Frank Darby with just forty seconds left.
ASU tried another onside attempt but, again, the Bruins covered it, which led to a Victory formation and UCLA’s first home win of the season, 42-32.
Overall, Kelley finished the night with 32 carries for 164 yards rushing and four touchdowns. It was exactly the kind of game the Bruins needed after beating Stanford last week...at least until the fourth quarter.