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Special Teams Strike Again As UCLA Trails Stanford at Half, 27-20

UCLA drives for a big TD right before halftime, only to have Stanford return the kickoff 74 yards to set up a Stanford FG.

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

Did the 3-8 (3-5) UCLA Bruins use their Victory Bell momentum to their advantage going against the 6-4 (4-3) Stanford Cardinal, or did the Bruins have a turkey hangover?

First Quarter

UCLA started off the game well, as the defense forced a 3rd and 12 by Stanford, and Adarius Pickett read K.J. Costello’s eyes and broke early on the pass and intercepted Costello’s throw. Pickett returned it for 22 yards to the Stanford 23 yard line. Unfortunately, UCLA’s offense could not move the ball and had to settle for a 38 yard JJ Molson field goal to put the Bruins up early.

Stanford responded and was aided on a big UCLA penalty. On 3rd and 5, UCLA’s Jay Shaw held JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and set up a K.J. Costello pass to the aforementioned JJ Arcega-Whiteside for a 19 yard TD to put Stanford up 7-3 at the 7:50 mark of the first quarter.

Special teams for the Bruins struck again, but not as horrible as we have seen in the past. Nonetheless, UCLA punted to Trenton Irwin, who had a nice 22 yard return to set up Stanford in UCLA territory. UCLA was able to hold the Cardinal to a field goal, and Stanford went up 10-3 at the 3:20 mark.

UCLA answered Stanford’s score on their next drive with big plays by Joshua Kelley and Theo Howard. The Bruins were also aided by a Stanford roughing the passer penalty on a 3rd and 13 play that UCLA did not convert. However, unlike the Cardinal who were able to convert their gift penalty, the Bruins once again had to settle for a JJ Molson 35 yard field goal. The Bruins trailed the Cardinal 10-6 at the close of the first quarter.

Second Quarter

Stanford started off the second quarter by driving right down the field on the UCLA defense, as the Bruins continued to struggle to put any kind of pressure on Costello. The big play of the drive was on 2nd and 8 when K.J. Costello hit Colby Parkinson down the middle for 33 yards to the UCLA 2 yard line. Love was able to punch it in on the next play to put Stanford up 17-6 at the 11:11 mark of the second quarter.

UCLA needed to answer, and they did on their next possession. UCLA had to convert on a 4th and 4 yards to keep the drive going, as Speight hit Kelley on an arrow route out of the backfield for a six yard gain. Kelly then called a little jet motion, as Speight pitched the ball to Howard as he went by, and Howard did the rest as he raced down the right sideline for 21 yards. Joshua Kelley and the offensive line did the rest as Kelley broke for a 12 yard TD run. UCLA pulled within 17-13 at the 7:34 mark of the second quarter.

UCLA got hemmed in on their next possession on a nice Stanford punt to the UCLA 5 yard line. The Bruins did absolutely nothing, and had to punt to Stanford. Stanford fair caught in great field position. Then, on a crazy play, Costello just seemed to throw a ball in the area of two receivers and two defenders that Trenton Irwin caught for a 37 yard TD to put Stanford up 24-13 at the 2:27 mark.

UCLA tried to answer and did so quickly as Wilton Speight was able to hit Christian Pabico for 29 yards, Michael Ezeike for 25 yards, and Theo Howard for 25 yards. This set up the Bruins at the 2 yard line. Stanford then stuffed Joshua Kelley on three consecutive run plays that basically gained no yards. This set up a 4th and goal at the 1 yard line. Chip Kelly called a timeout, and before the Bruins could snap the ball, the Cardinal were called for being offside. The Bruins then snapped the ball, handed it off to Kelley, and he dove in the middle of the abyss of the Bruins’ offensive line. The initial call was no touchdown by Kelley, and the play went under review. The call on the field ended up being overturned, and the TD counted, and the Cardinal were still up 24-20.

That last drive by Wilton Speight was beautiful and one of the best and most needed of the year. But guess what, we had to kickoff to the Cardinal, which meant the UCLA special teams unit had to come on the field.

The disaster that is UCLA special teams allowed Cameron Scarlett to take the kick and return it 74 yards to the UCLA 26. Darnay Holmes was then called for a pass interference that set up Stanford at the UCLA 11 yard line. Stanford then just started throwing jump balls. Gates was then called for a pass interference call that placed the ball on the UCLA 2 yard line. In what seemed like a win, UCLA was able to hold the Cardinal to a field goal, which put Stanford up 27-20.

Special teams and pressure on Costello are going to be keys for the Bruins coming out after the half. Sound off below as to your keys that will help the Bruins end this streak.

Listen to the Game Here on BN!

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Join your fellow fans discussing today’s UCLA game in the comments below.

This is your Stanford Cardinal at UCLA Bruins 2nd half game thread.

Go Bruins!!!