UCLA can always seem to find a way to make things difficult for themselves. Penalties, drops, special teams follies, you name it, and we can do it. This first half was no different.
What was different, UCLA’s defense actually played a pretty good half of football. UCLA has given up 242 total yards, but they have played pretty solid defense.
USC quickly opened up their first possession with an intent to run the ball. Six plays by SC on their first drive, and they ran the ball on five of them. Big play of the drive was the UCLA defense holding SC on a 3rd and 2. Ronald Jones II rushed to the left for no gain and got stacked up at the UCLA 43.
UCLA’s first possession looked promising as UCLA picked up a first down on a pass play from Rosen to Wilson. UCLA then went with a little trickery as they brought in Darnay, and put him in motion. Rosen then dropped back and hit Lasley on a huge pass play, but like pretty much everything else this year, a penalty for an ineligible man down field brought it back. Then on a 3rd and 7 Rosen was hurried and he had to throw the ball away.
Then in the strangest play of the year. UCLA punted the ball right, but UCLA the coverage went left. SC at the last second dropped back a second punt returner to the right and UCLA did not see it. Michael Pittman Jr. then returned the kick for 72 yards to for a TD. These types of things only happen to UCLA. SC was up 7-0 at the 9:28 mark of the first quarter.
On UCLA’s next possession, after picking up a first down, Josh Rosen passed to the middle to Jordan Lasley for 41 yards to the USC 28. The next big play occurred on 3rd and 8 when Josh Rosen threw a beautiful ball to the left to Austin Roberts for 15 yards to the USC 11. Rosen used some tempo and quickly snapped the ball and threw a back shoulder fade pass to the left to Jordan Lasley for 11 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. Score was tied at this point 7-7.
On SC’s second possession, SC was aided by a huge kickoff return, although a penalty brought back some of the yards. SC was immediately able to pick up a first down, and then 1st and 10 Ronald Jones II rushed to the left for 23 yards to the UCLA 17. Then Darnold immediately hit Deontay Burnett for 15 yards to the UCLA 2. SC quickly lined up, and Jones picked up his 15th rushing TD of the year. SC reclaimed the lead 14-7 at the 4:08 mark of the 1st quarter.
UCLA started their third possession of the quarter at their 27 yard line. UCLA was able to pick up a first down, then went to some tempo on the first play after the first down, and Rosen was sacked, losing seven yards. On 3rd and 12, Rosen hit Howard for a huge 30 yard pick up to the USC 35. However, the drops hit UCLA again as Rosen hit a wide open Roberts across the middle with room to run, but Roberts dropped the perfect pass. UCLA eventually faced a 4th and 10, and Josh Rosen’s pass to the middle to Jordan Lasley for 14 yards to USC’s 21 yard line helped convert the big 4th down and ended the first quarter.
UCLA’s 10 play drive continued to start the second quarter. UCLA immediately went to some trickery, with a fake reverse and Bolo scored a TD, but it was immediately brought back with a clipping penalty. UCLA was unable to recover from the huge penalty, and ended up settling for a 47 yard FG attempt by Molson that was about 10 yards short.
USC’s first possession of the second half was able to pick up a couple of first downs. However the penalty bug hit SC too, on a 4th and 3 play USC had pass interference on Steven Mitchell Jr., after the pass was completed. This resulted in a 15 yard penalty and forced a SC punt.
UCLA’s next possession started on their 30 yard line. UCLA came out with a Josh Rosen pass to the middle to Jordan Lasley for 31 yards to the USC 39. After another dropped ball on a low Rosen throw and a short run, UCLA faced a 3rd and 10, and Rosen’s pass was tipped at the line. This forced UCLA to punt, and the ball went into the end-zone for a touch-back.
SC started their next possession on their 20, and after a run play and a timeout, on 2nd and 6 Sam Darnold passed to the right to Ronald Jones II for 22 yards to the USC 46. Darnold then immediately hit Tyler Vaughns for 15 yards to the UCLA 39. USC was eventually faced with a 4th down, and USC decided to go for it. Darnold scrambled and looked to have picked up the first down, but as he was going down he fumbled the ball. The play was ruled a fumble on the field, and the play was overturned. On 2nd and 6 , Sam Darnold threw to Michael Pittman Jr. for 7 yards to the UCLA 17. SC picked up the first down, but a late hit did push the ball back 15 yards. After an incomplete pass and a SC timeout, SC rushed the middle for no yards. This brought up a huge 3rd and 8 play, and after being pressured by UCLA, Darnold threw incomplete. SC decided to go for it again on 4th and 8. Darnold dropped back and threw an interception to UCLA’s Jaleel Wadood and it was returned for 24 yards, although another penalty brought some back some yards.
UCLA and Josh Rosen drove the ball down the field with a combination of pass and run plays. UCLA was knocking on the door when Rosen dropped back and as he was passing the ball, the ball was knocked out of his hands, the fumble was recovered by John Houston Jr. and returned for 3 yards.
USC was then able to quickly move the ball into scoring position. With 0:22 and 2nd and 4, Sam Darnold passed to the right to Deontay Burnett for 25 yards to the UCLA 14. Sam Darnold then made a huge mistake. Sam Darnold scrambled to the right for 9 yards to the UCLA 5, but USC had no TO’s left and the clock ran out.
UCLA is definitely in this game. If they can clean up the penalties and the drops, they have a chance to pull this game out.
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