In the battle between unbeatens, the #9 Bruins headed to Tucson to take on the #16 Wildcats. The Bruins kicked off their Pac-12 conference campaign on the road in Tucson with a big win against last season's Pac-12 South champs Arizona Wildcats, 56-30.
This was a tough week for UCLA as they lost LB Myles Jack (in practice) and CB Fabian Moreau (during last week's BYU game) last week. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit UCLA back-up LB Jayon Brown who was having a fantastic game before he went out near the end of the 3rd quarter. It was gut check time and the Bruins delivered a really nice win.
The running game was fierce with workhorses Perkins, who had 24 carries for 85 yards with 3 touchdowns, and Starks, who had only 5 carries for 28 yards for a touchdown, while the game was still in doubt in the first half. The O-Line was so good that they paved the way for Soso Jamabo in the fourth quarter who had 9 attempts for 96 yards and a touchdown. Not to be outdone, Rosen had a QB keeper run in for a touchdown for about 7 yards.
Through the air, Rosen was masterful and went 19/28 or 68% for 284 yards with 3 total touchdowns (including the rushing TD) while throwing to 8 different receivers. Payton had the biggest night, who might have been slightly injured, finished with 136 yards on only 7 catches.
The defense played well throughout the night looking perfectly content to let Arizona gain lots of first downs and yards while patiently waiting for a mistake. And they came. The Wildcats had three turnovers which the UCLA offense took advantage of. The Wildcats ended up with 456 yards with 30 points, though 7 came in garbage time in the fourth quarter (and was fueled by UCLA penalties....grrr).
A sloppy end to the game doesn't take away from an inspiring win. Sure, penalties continue to be a problem with 9 penalties for 76 yards, which is about average for UCLA at this point though luckily it didn't effect the outcome of this game.
In the following, there's a quarter-by-quarter recap of how the game went.
The Arizona Wildcats started the game with an impressive 75 yard drive on their first possession. UCLA fires back with a quick 5 play drive. Working with a short field thanks to Devin Fuller and an penalty on the TD celebration on Arizona, the penalty bug bites back. However, after some tough runs from Perkins, Rosen throws a laser pass to Duarte who makes a beautiful finesse catch and muscles his way for a 35 yard touchdown.
On Arizona's second possession, a wild snap over QB Solomon's head leads to a turnover. The Bruins start their second drive on the 16 yard line and Perkins only needs one touch to run it in for a touchdown to go up 14-7 after Ka'imi Fairbairn's second PAT is good.
The defense forces a three-and-out, then the UCLA offense moves the chains a few times with quick throws by Rosen to Payton and Walker but couldn't convert on 3rd and 3 near midfield.
Arizona continues to use their stud RB Wilson to march forward then the center snaps the ball high a few times and Arizona shoots itself in the foot and needs to punt. Fuller makes a few nice moves and gives UCLA more great field position. Starting near midfield again UCLA rides Perkins into the red zone but runs out of time on 1rst and 10 from the Arizona 14 yard line. The quarter ends with a score of 14-7 favoring the Bruins.
Perkins finishes the drive in Beast Mode with some tough runs up the middle, Bruins up 21-7 with only a few ticks from the beginning of the fresh quarter. This is an efficient UCLA offense as it only needed 150 yards to score 3 touchdowns thanks to excellent field position (thanks Fuller!) and an early Arizona turnover.
Fairbairn kicks the ball out of the end of the end zone and Arizona has not had a chance to return any kickoffs.
Arizona QB Anu Solomon runs into his running back and fumbles the ball as stud LB Deon Hollins falls on top of the ball to recover the fumble faster than the speed of sound.
On the Arizona 30 yard line, true freshman RB Soso Jamabo gets his first carries on this drive and gets a first down and 9 yards on the next play. On 3rd and 3, the Bruins score on a beautiful touch pass by Rosen into the corner of the end zone to Mr. Dependable Jordan Payton. That's 28 straight points by the Bruins!
After QB Anu Solomon goes out of the game with a possible concussion, their backup QB Jerrad Randall burns the vacated middle-left of the UCLA defense for a 39 yard touchdown to stop the Arizona bleeding to bring the score within 28-14.
A big run by, guess who, Perkins is negated by a holding call. Then Rosen tries to go long to WR Massington but it just escapes his fingertips. Luckily, a screen pass to speedster Daren Andrews goes for 22 on a 3rd and 13. Starks does his best Perkins impression and makes a sick cut to bring the ball inside the 5 yard line with 7:30 to go in the first half. Mazzone lets Starks finish his drive and Nate runs the ball in for a TD standing up.
This is where we take a moment to thank the entire o-line for doing the dirty work. I'm also impressed with the game Mazzone called. Arizona couldn't stop the run and so Mazzone kept calling for running plays. Bravo.
With their backup QB Randall, the Wildcats start driving with Wilson and some nice throws by their QB. At around the UCLA 30 yard line, a few errant throws brings up 3rd and 10. Ishmael Adams makes his impression on the game with a well-timed interception.
Rosen shows off some flashy footwork as he keeps his eyes downfield for a huge 59 yard catch by Payton (tons of YAC). Another 1rst and goal. Showing his poise, Rosen throws a pass away instead of trying to force anything. Nice. On 3rd and goal from the 1 yard line, the Bruins take a time out then Paul Perkins muscles his way in for his third touchdown of the first half!
This is UCLA playing like a fine-tuned machine with a cool 6 TDs out of 7 possessions.
The UCLA defense continues to give big chunks of yards to Arizona with some sloppy tackling as the Wildcats mark into the red zone with a little under 1:30 left in the first half. But the DLine steps up and the tackling is solid (Jayon Brown I think) and forces a 4th and 7 from the UCLA 12 yard line. Down 28 points, the Wildcats elect to try the 29 field goal but it goes wide right, ending a divinely comedic first half for Arizona.
UCLA opened the second half on offense but quickly goes in the wrong direction and needs to punt. Arizona working on a short field is forced into a 4th and 3 from the 16 yard line, but QB Randall scrambles and finds an open man for a TD but the subsequent extra-point sails wide. The score is only 42-20 at this point. The Arizona kicker continues to have a rough night.
Another 3 and out for the Bruins gives the ball back to the Wildcats near midfield. Arizona keeps gaining yards on the ground with their QB Randall and their RB Wilson. A Wadood hold negates a Marcus Rios interception. Penalties starting to creep in. UCLA defense just can't tackle their big running QB and the Wildcats were about to score from the 3 but the QB fumbles the ball and is tackled for a loss by DE Tak McKinley at the 20 yard line. The Wildcats need to hold Kene Orjioke to prevent a huge sack which backs them up to the 30 yard line two plays later. A third and goal from the 28 (!) is almost intercepted by Ishmael Adams in the end zone so the Wildcats must settle for the 44 yard field goal to cut the score to 42-23.
The Bruins get a nice jolt from another Rosen-Payton connection as Rosen airs it out to Payton who makes a tough catch near the sideline as he gets his pinky toe in for a 39 yard gain. Perkins, Payton, and Rosen are in perfect harmony as they drive the UCLA offense into the red zone. A fake to Starks, who acts a lead blocker, lets Rosen walk in for a touchdown on a QB keeper. Bruins up 49-23 with a 26 point cushion.
Scrap and his players force a punt and Bruins are rolling in Tucson.
Although it comes back due to a a hold, Rosen shows off he can run when necessary as he picks up the first down and more but takes a big hit in the back for his efforts. Rosen has made all the right decisions tonight so it's not a surprise that he threw the ball away on 2nd and 17 instead of trying to force something. The Bruins punt not needing to force anything up 26 at the beginning of the fourth.
The Arizona Wildcats must have covered their backup QB Randall in grease as he continues to slip out of Bruin defenders who can't bring him down. A little over 2 minutes later, the Wildcats were in the red zone but the UCLA defense stops them cold.
I tuned out the rest since I needed to eat some food and we were up comfortably :)
Next up: Arizona State. Next man up.