UCLA came on the road needing a win, and so far they have played well against a surging Arizona State.
UCLA won the coin toss and elected to defer, so we got to watch the UCLA defense attempt to stop the Arizona State offense, and boy was it something. The Sun Devils were able to gash the Bruin defense on the ground, and threw in a few outside screens that UCLA had trouble defending. Inside the red zone, however, the Sun Devil offense stalled, with a false start penalty putting the Sun Devils behind the chains, and leading to an ASU field goal.
Wilton Speight is the starting QB today, and his first drive at the wheel got off to a good start, getting into ASU territory almost immediately with some solid gains. Seriously, this was a thing of beauty, with Caleb Wilson catching two 10+ yard passes to start, Joshua Kelley getting solid runs, a huge Theo Howard game on a jet sweep, and Kelley punching the ball in from 2 yards out. 7-3 Bruins.
The second ASU drive featured much-better run defense, though Sun Devil dynamo receiver N’Keal Harry made his presence felt with a few big catches. The drive ended when Darnay Holmes played perfect defense to break up a deep pass on 3rd down, forcing an ASU punt. The ASU punt coverage team watched the punt go into the end zone for a touchback.
UCLA’s 2nd offensive series again saw the ball move, as Speight made two good 3rd down conversions - one with his feet and another on a deeper sideline route to Howard. A sack set UCLA up with a 2nd and 18, but a 12 yard rush by Kelley was followed by a 3rd down strike to Wilson for another conversion. The Bruins went for it on 4th and 1 inside the red zone, but ASU sent the house and was able to stop the drive.
ASU took advantage of UCLA’s inability to score, as the Sun Devils went 85 yards in 7 plays, highlighted by N’Keal Harry taking a pass 39 yards (and adding extra yards thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Atonio Mafi). Manny Wilkins capped the touchdown drive with a 13 yard keeper, because the eternal rule is that UCLA is never allowed to stop a running QB.
UCLA was again able to move into Sun Devil territory quickly thanks to a 30 yard reception on 3rd down by Devin Asiasi. The next 3rd down was converted thanks to some individual brilliance by both Speight to avoid a sack and Caleb Wilson to fight through a tackle to gain the 1st down. Unfortunately, a holding penalty derailed the drive, and JJ Molson missed a 44 yarder to keep the score the same.
None of that mattered, though, because Darnay Holmes apparently had enough of the N’Keal Harry hype, and intercepted Wilkin’s first pass of the ensuing drive and took it to the house to give the Bruins a 14-10 lead.
The Sun Devils had an answer, though, as Wilkins marched ASU down the field in 3:38 of game time over 10 plays, and the Sun Devils retook the lead 17-14 after a quick out to Nick Ralston.
UCLA decided to play conservatively to end the half, as they will start the second half with the ball.
QUICK STAT UPDATE:
UCLA has 215 yards so far on the day, compared to 244 for ASU. Wilton Speight is 11-13 for 135 yards, Joshua Kelley has 13 carried for 52 yards, and Caleb Wilson leads the receivers with 4 catches for 54 yards.
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