PASADENA, Calif — The UCLA Bruins fell to the Oregon State Beavers 48-31 Saturday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Quarterback Jake Luton, who threw five touchdown passes — three of them to Pac-12 leading wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins, led the Beavers.
For the Bruins, it was sophomore quarterback Austin Burton’s first start after relieving Dorian Thompson-Robinson late in a loss to Arizona in the Bruins’ previous game. Already tough enough to win in his first start, it did not help that he trailed 21-0 with just six minutes ticked off the game clock.
“I mean, it was just the situation we were put in and didn’t get the outcome we wanted,” said a calm Burton after the game. “We made some plays, but it wasn’t enough. You could say it was an uphill battle, but we had enough opportunities to get the job done, and we didn’t do it.”
Oregon State Beavers went no huddle on the opening drive and sped down the field on the Bruins. Kolby Taylor caught a quick to the right and took it 45 yards down the sideline to the Bruins 3. Hodgins then caught a pass while falling out of bounds on the left side of the end zone and was able to get his feet down for the opening touchdown.
It appeared that keeping up with the Beavers early factored in UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly’s play-calling decisions as he decided to try to convert a 4th down and one from his own 34-yard line just down by a touchdown. Running Back Joshua Kelley was stuffed on a run to the left side and gave the ball back to the Beavers.
With a short field, the Beavers wasted no time and scored on a five-play drive that lasted less than two minutes. Running back Artavis Pierce, who finished with 119 rushing yards and one touchdown, punched it in from the four-yard line. On the ensuing kickoff, the Beavers attempted a pooch kick and recovered it off a high bounce as the Bruins special return appeared confused. The first play on offense saw QB Jake Luton fake a handoff, as the entire Bruin defense bit, TE Teagan Quitoriano streaked down the left seam unguarded and caught a 27-yard pass in the end zone.
“You can’t spot them a lead like that in the first quarter,” said Chip Kelly. “I thought that our guys battled. We made some uncharacteristic mistakes. With the onside kick, it’s something you practice but you don’t see that very often. That’s on us. You’ve got to just fair catch that. [Down 21 points] I thought that our guys battled back. They did a good job, but we put ourselves in too big of a hole to start the game.”
UCLA answered back as they worked a 13-play, 85-yard drive that culminated in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Burton to Kyle Phillips, who led the Bruins with seven receptions for 71 yards. The drive gave the Bruins’ defense some rest as it took seven minutes and 43 seconds off the game clock.
The rest did not seem to help as Luton and Beavers marched right back down the field. Pierce took a handoff up the middle from the Beaver 25 and weaved down the field for a 53-yard run to the Bruin 22 yard line. Six plays later, Hodgins caught a short pass and beat the Bruins to the pylon as he scored his second touchdown of the game. The Beavers led 27-10 at halftime.
Bruins took opening drive of the second half and went 65 yards for a score. Joshua Kelley, 111 yards and a touchdown on the night, carried the ball seven times on the drive for 29 yards. Kelly fumbled his last carry on the drive from the one-yard line and was stopped for no gain but official review determined that he fumbled the ball and recovered it on the goal line for a touchdown. The home team now trailed by 10 and was making a game out of it.
The Bruins had a chance to trim the deficit to one score but were stopped short on another fourth down, this time at the Beavers’ 39-yard line, giving the explosive Beavers another go at it. Once again the Bruins defense bit on a play fake and left WR Tyjon Lindsey wide open deep down the field for a 53 yard touchdown to put the visitors up 34-17 and the game out of reach.
“I’m happy for our players, as they continue to work and believe, and they really responded in this game,” said Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith. “We had a big 21-0 lead in that first quarter, and then they continued to battle, getting to within 10 points. We answered some scores, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I thought on defense, that offense can be explosive and dangerous. But we had some huge fourth down stops.”
Bruins just could not make the stops needed after, again, pulling within ten late in the third quarter. Beavers chewed up 75 yards on a nine-play drive culminating in a 22-yard touchdown reception for Isaiah Hodgins, his third of the game. Hodgins also had a 24-yard reception on the drive.
The Bruins have a bye next week before travelling up north to play Stanford.