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Arizona State 38, UCLA 33: Mora Missed Opportunities & Letdown in Another Big Game

Recap of UCLA's game 38-33 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

In the first half, Arizona State received to open the game and, without Myles Jack on defense, moved down the field with ease to take an early 7-0 lead on a run by Taylor Kelly. All 4 linebackers had an atrocious drive, getting beat to the outside, missing tackles and reacting slowly.

UCLA answered back with a huge kickoff return by Ishmael Adams and scored to tie it up one play later on a 42-yard strike by Brett Hundley to Devin Lucien on a deep post that was beautifully thrown by Hundley. After trading a couple of nowhere drives, the Bruins got a big punt return by Adams (special teams was UCLA's biggest edge in this matchup). That drive would end with a 48-yard FG by Ka'imi Fairbairn to give UCLA a 10-7 lead.

The Sun Devils responded with a long drive where they did not go to the left side once, lots of Kelly running down the field and ending with a TD run by D.J. Foster to give the Sun Devils a 14-10 lead. The Sun Devils would take advantage again on an atrocious play-call (shocking that ASU would be ready for a swing pass) and Carl Bradford would get a free rush on the swing and pick the ball off for a touchdown to make the score 21-10. Arizona State would add another TD on a QB sneak by Michael Eubank after another drive of ASU running to the side abandoned by Myles Jack on defense.

After another huge return by Adams, Jordon James got his first snaps at running back and UCLA cruised down the field before bringing in the "doffense" and stalling out inside the redzone. Fairbairn kicked a short FG to narrow the deficit to 28-13. Unlike the Bruins, ASU pressed to score while UCLA rushed three linemen with just over a minute left and drove down to score again, making it 35-13 at the half.

The Jack to offense move backfired all over the place on UCLA's offense in the first half. The pass blocking was just awful, with Hundley getting sacked 4 times. The Arizona State offense ran about 90% of their plays to the right side of the line, right where Myles Jack has been the whole year.

The UCLA offense started hot in the second half, cruising down the field on precise passes by Hundley and ending on a TD run by Myles Jack (who was only in on short yardage plays). Jack remained out of the game on defense, but the defense forced a 3-and-out to give the Bruins the ball back. A terrible snap on the punt by ASU gave UCLA the ball inside the 20. UCLA capitalized after a huge 3rd down catch by Grayson Mazzone and a short TD run by Paul Perkins made it a one score game at 35-27.

Arizona State's offense exploited the Bruin linebackers in coverage (no Myles Jack on defense crushed UCLA in this game) to go down the field. The defense tightened up, thanks to nice open field tackling and a couple false starts by ASU, and forced a FG to make it a two score game again at 38-27.

UCLA was faced with a big 4th down and 2 around midfield on their next drive, forced a timeout by Arizona State and then converted on a rollout to Eddie Vanderdoes for a big gain. The drive ended with a 27-yard TD pass to Shaq Evans on a drag over the middle, and a failed 2-point conversion to make the score 38-33.

The defense forced another punt after a short drive to give the UCLA offense the ball with a chance to take the lead and 9 minutes left in the game. A costly false start by Caleb Benenoch on first down made the drive tough, but Hundley converted on 3rd and 9 with a big QB draw. A 26-yard run by Paul Perkins followed and ASU's defense used their final timeout to avoid getting an illegal substitution penalty. UCLA floundered inside the redzone, with Hundley getting sacked for the 7th time on 3rd down. Fairbairn missed another FG to give ASU the ball without any points being scored.

The defense got ASU off the field once again with 3 minutes on the clock and all the timeouts gone. Hundley coverted another 4th down on a slant to Evans. Unfortunately after that, back-to-back holds by Alex Redmond and Scott Quessenberry put UCLA in a 1st and 30 with 1:03 left. An incompletion on a deep ball to Thomas Duarte was followed by another incompletion to Jordan Payton, giving the Bruins a 3rd and 30 with 40 seconds to go. The ninth sack of the game followed after a low snap. Hundley complete a pass to Jordan Payton in a desperation heave and gave Arizona State the ball back to win the game 38-33.

With this loss, the Bruins fail to win the Pac-12 South and fall to 8-3 (5-3 in Pac-12). The Sun Devils clinch their first ever Pac-12 South title and have a chance to host the Championship game if they close out their season with a win over Arizona.

Coach Mora has still yet to win a game in which UCLA was not the favorite. What that means is up for debate, but the fact remains that UCLA is still in the second tier of Pac-12 teams not because of talent but because of an inability to put together a complete game of offense, defense and special teams play.