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UCLA Football: Bruins Edge Wildcats, 31-30, for 2nd Straight Win

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It wasn’t pretty, but UCLA picked up a big conference win against the visiting Arizona Wildcats.

NCAA Football: Arizona at UCLA Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Although shooting themselves in the foot multiple times throughout their game against the Arizona Wildcats, the UCLA Bruins were able to hang on for a 31-30 win. This victory is UCLA’s second straight win and improves them to 2-5 (2-2). on the year. WE’RE GOING STREAKING!!!!

The big story here is the fact that the Bruins committed 12 penalties for 103 yards. Naturally, their first play from the line of scrimmage tonight was a false start. Even though the Bruins won, it’s nearly impossible to win games when you’re surrendering so many yards to penalties. Not only does it stop momentum, but it also gives the opponent a golden opportunity to start with favorable field position. A lot of these penalties were mental lapses, and the Bruins definitely took a big step back in the discipline department on Saturday night.

The Bruins defense had been surging the last two weeks, but they looked like last year’s UCLA Swiss cheese defense. Arizona’s stud RB J.J. Taylor gashed the Bruins for 154 rushing yards on 19 carries and one score. The short, shifty RB averaged a pearly 8.1 yards per carry against the Bruins. The Wildcats other RB, Gary Brightwell also found a ton of daylight. He racked up 121 yards on 15 carries, and he also averaged 8.1 yards per attempt. As a team, Arizona ran wild for 289 yards while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. U of A’s offensive line is by no means the greatest, but the dominated the Bruins in the trenches.

Making his first career start under center, Arizona QB Rhett Rodriguez threw for 231 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. It was a very up and down performance for the sophomore, but he did make some impressive throws in the second half. This game figured to be a golden opportunity for UCLA’s defense to get some pressure on him, but for the most part, Rhett was unscathed in this one. Although his 2 INTs came on bad decision making, he still filled in quite well for injured QB Khalil Tate who killed the Bruins last year in Tucson.

Offensively for the Bruins, things were starting to look bleak as starting QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson went down with an injury after taking a sack. He would exit the game in the second quarter and not return. Before departing, DTR completed 5-8 passes for 103 yards and a score. He also added a nice 10-yard scamper, too. It looked like he was in line for a huge performance before going down with an injury.

Head coach Chip Kelly elected to trot out Wilton Speight to replace DTR, and it was certainly a roller-coaster ride. Speight made some bad reads but was very serviceable for the most part against the Arizona Wildcats. He finished with 204 passing yards and 2 scores. He connected with TE Devin Asiasi for his first ever touchdown in a UCLA uniform and hooked up with Demetric Felton from 25-yards out. Not a bad performance for a QB who hasn’t seen the field since week one. Definitely, need to give credit where credit is due.

As for Bruins RB Josh Kelley, he continued his domination on the ground. He finished with 136 rushing yards on 31 carries and one touchdown. This marked his 4th straight game with over 100 rushing yards. Very impressive, needless to say. What stood out the most was his 31 carries, feed the beast! Kelley really didn’t get going until the second half, and he reached paydirt from 28-yards out with 11:33 left in the 4th which ultimately was the game-winning touchdown. Josh Kelley continues to dominate the touches out of the backfield and has quickly emerged as a burgeoning star RB in the Pac-12.

The UCLA Bruins will have a quick turnaround when they host the Utah Utes for their next game on Friday, October 26th, in what has suddenly turned into a game with huge implications in the wide open Pac-12 South.