This game was a tale of two halves.
On one hand, the first half was a complete snoozefest. It featured a total of 13 punts — 7 by Arizona State and 6 by UCLA. Other than that, the first half highlights included a field goal for each team and two missed field goal attempts by UCLA.
By contrast, the second half only featured a total of four punts.
Arizona State started the scoring in the second half after Mike Fafaul threw an interception that was returned for 37 yards by Gump Hayes to the UCLA 4-yard line. With their backs to the wall, the defense held the Sun Devils to just 3 points.
Following a Bruin punt, ASU drove 57 yards on 7 plays resulting in a 5-yard touchdown run by Demario Richard to give the Sun Devils a 13-3 lead.
UCLA got the ball back and Josh Rosen re-entered the game despite looking like he was still playing in pain. He threw a pass to Soso Jamabo who took it 66 yards down to the Arizona State 2-yard line. That’s when the offense sputtered and, in typical Jim Mora fashion, the Bruin head coach sent out placekicker JJ Molson to kick the field goal instead of going for it.
After an ASU punt, the Bruins got the ball back and, on the fifth play from scrimmage, Rosen hit Jordan Lasley on a 52-yard pass play to tie the game at 13-13.
But the Sun Devils countered with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own to retake the lead 20-13 as the 3rd quarter ended.
After a touchback, Josh Rosen hit Soso Jamabo for a 15-yard pass and a 4-yard pass before Marcus Ball intercepted the ball and returned it to the UCLA 32. The Bruin defense held again and forced ASU to settle for another field goal to make it 23-13. That would turn out to be enough even though Rosen drove the Bruins down the field on a 75-yard touchdown drive to pull within three points.
The defense held tough again as Adarius Pickett intercepted a pass from ASU backup QB Dillon Sterling-Cole in the end zone to end a Sun Devil drive.
Rosen marched back onto the field with 5:35 left looking to win the game, but it wasn’t to be. After driving the ball down to the ASU 29, Nate Iese was flagged for offensive pass interference and the Bruins were moved back to the ASU 44.
On the next play, Josh Rosen was sacked hard and appeared to have injured either his wrist or throwing shoulder and he was done for the night. Mike Fafaul came back in for the second time and threw an incomplete pass to Darren Andrews.
With it 4th and 34 at their own 37, Jim Mora sent in the punt team, hoping that the defense could hold one more time and get the ball back.
And, they did, but horrible clock management earlier in the half left UCLA with the ball on their own 31, with no timeouts and 48 seconds left and with their backup quarterback who had been ineffective earlier in the game back in the game.
Let’s just say that Mike Fafaul is no Jerry Neuheisel.
And, with that the Bruins dropped to 3-3 on the year. Next week, they head to Pullman, Washington to face a tough Washington State squad who killed Stanford tonight 42-16. Yup, after narrowly escaping against UCLA, the Cardinal have been outscored 86-22 the past two weeks.
Now, we certainly don’t believe in "moral victories" here but even those Bruin fans who may have been happy with the close game against Stanford certainly can’t be so happy about that loss after seeing how easily the Washington schools have destroyed the Cardinal the past two weeks.
At this point, even with a healthy Josh Rosen, UCLA might have a hard time winning another game the rest of the season as even Oregon State scored 47 points today en route to a win over UC Berkeley.