Tempe, AZ – After leading 17-3 into halftime, UCLA had complete dominance throughout the game. Arizona State looked sluggish in the first 30 minutes, whereas the Bruins found rhythm. The tables turned once the third quarter hit, and many UCLA fans had a funny feeling when they saw their lead slip away gaining just 11 yards in their first 18 plays of the second half. All that weight was lifted off of their shoulders on a key drive late in the game with a great mix in the air and on the ground. UCLA escapes with a 25-18 win and puts them over .500 for the first time since 2017.
“All of our game was dictated by ASU’s defense,” “It was huge to get Dorian back for us to help bring out a balanced attack. Dorian’s legs and arms, and how limited our running game was, allowed for us to take control.”
Since Kelly took over the program, the Bruins have started off their seasons on the wrong end. It looked that way when they lost to Colorado in their season opener. Now, it seems as if the Buffs loss may actually be a loss they can reflect on, considering they have now won three of their last four contests. To do it also with a backup quarterback in their last two contests and hang around against a tough Oregon team has shown that UCLA just needed a game to figure themselves out.
“I am really proud of our defense,” “We talked about playing hard and playing hard for 60 minutes. Our offense was big today, but our defense was huge to get us a big win.”
Arizona State did not end up being a walk in the park, however. UCLA’s 17-0 lead to start the game helped off by Dorian Thompson Robinson’s play with two first half touchdowns, one on the ground. Arizona State only managed a field goal and was forced to punt in three of their five drives in the first half. All that changed when Jayden Danleis goes trick play, allowing wide receiver Ricky Pearsall connect on a long pass play after a reverse for over 50 yards. Arizona State scores into the end zone three plays later. It might have been the shock the Bruins felt after as they only managed a handful of yards throughout the third and part of the fourth quarter. They eventually saw their lead dwindle after giving up a safety and then another score to give ASU an 18-17 lead.
UCLA’s final drive managed 11 plays but only took just over three minutes. Just like in the first half, both Thompson Robinson and Felton took care of the Bruins offense. Felton’s short run to the endzone and a two point conversion gave UCLA the lead right back. Arizona State was stopped on their final drive that wrapped things up.
With Felton limited running for just 45 yards on 10 carries, Thompson-Robinson instead led all ball carriers with 15, which allowed for UCLA to take command of mixing their game plan around. It was what they wanted against ASU.
“I am blessed to be off for two weeks and have the chance to get back in the game mid week and prepare the right way,” Thompson Robinson said. “It felt nice to get back out there, but I give a lot of credit to the coaching staff to prepare me and my team for a game like this.”
UCLA now rides an above .500 record for the first time in years. What could change this program for the better? A win over USC next week can certainly change a lot of minds as to which football program has begin to figure themselves out, even if it has taken a few years to make that happen.