Right out of the gate the Bruins looked better. Cincinnati got the ball first, but the UCLA Bruins’ defense got the ball back quickly due to a couple of penalties against the Bearcats.
UCLA’s first possession of the first half saw the Bruins drive down the field quickly before Dorian Thompson-Robinson fumbled to give the ball back to Cincinnati.
That change in momentum resulted in a touchdown and the Bearcats led, 7-0. On their next possession, Cincinnati tried to make it 10-0 but the field goal attempt by Sam Crossa was no good.
But, after UCLA punted for the second time in two possessions, Crossa made his second attempt of the game to put the Bearcats ahead, 10-0.
With 8:23 left in the first half, Thompson-Robinson hit Demetric Felton on a 75-yard touchdown pass which cut the lead to just three points.
The UCLA defense finished the half out strong with a fumble recovery, a three-and-out, and an interception on Cincinnati’s final three possession before the half, but the Bruin offense could not capitalize. UCLA went three-and-out on consecutive possessions and Jay Shaw’s interception was marred by an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Shaw which took UCLA out of field goal range for the final play of the half.
With that, the teams went to the locker room with Cincinnati leading 10-7.
The concern of Bruin fans, however, has to still be the play of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Why? Well, in the first half, DTR started the game 3-of-4 passing, but he then went just 2-of-7 the rest of the first half and one of those two completions was a short pass to Felton out of the backfield, which Felton took to the house for a 75-yard touchdown pass.
Thompson-Robinson didn’t get better as the game progressed either. After finishing the first half 5-of-11 passing, he went 3-of-15 in the second half. That’s a completion percentage of 20% for the second half. You cannot expect to win when you’re starting quarterback performs like that.
If you take the first four passes of the game out of the equation, Thompson-Robinson completed just five of his final 22 passes of the game. That’s a completion rate of just 22.7%.
But, despite all of this, UCLA still was in a position to win the game, believe it or not.
After halftime, the teams traded third quarter touchdowns and Cincinnati led 17-14 after three.
But the Bearcats scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to take a 24-14 lead. On the Bruins’ next drive, UCLA moved 15 yards on six plays before Thompson-Robinson threw his second pick of the game.
The Bruin defense managed to get the Bearcats to the ball over on downs to put the UCLA offense back on the field with DTR still at quarterback and, again, he let his teammates down with his fourth turnover of the game. This time, it was his second unforced fumble.
The Bruin defense came back on the field and, just when UCLA fans thought the Bruins were back in the game because of a fumble by Michael Warren II, the Pac-12 officiating crew ruled that Warren was down before he fumbled and the AAC replay crew couldn’t find enough video evidence to overturn the ruling on the field.
With that, Season Two of the Chip Kelly era began the same way Season One did—with a loss to Cincinnati.