UCLA defeats Arizona 31-30
Boosted by turnovers and an explosive attack, UCLA defeated Arizona 31-30 at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
UCLA ate the final minutes off the clock through handoffs to Joshua Kelley, driving the ball down the field. Kelley totaled 136 rushing yards with a touchdown in his third straight game with more than 100 rushing yards.
Wilton Speight completed 17 of 27 passes for 204 yards with two touchdowns, combining with Dorian Thompson-Robinson for 307 passing yards for the Bruins.
After posting UCLA’s first 0-5 start since 1943, the Bruins have won back-to-back games by defeating Arizona.
Arizona cuts UCLA lead to 31-30 with field goal
Josh Pollack drilled a 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, cutting UCLA’s lead over Arizona to 31-30.
Aside from Rhett Rodriguez’s 33-yard pass to Shawn Poindexter, the Wildcats got in position to score from gradual gains on the ground. J.J. Taylor and Gary Brightwell contributed carries to put Arizona in field goal range, bringing Arizona’s rushing yard total to 289 yards.
But the Bruins’ defense shut down Arizona as it broke through to the red zone, leaving the Wildcats to settle for the field goal.
Joshua Kelley restores UCLA lead with 28-yard touchdown run
Joshua Kelley broke through the Arizona defense to dart 28 yards up the middle to the end zone, giving UCLA a 31-27 lead over Arizona.
The run was Kelley’s longest of the game and his first score, marking the third consecutive game where he has earned more and 100 rushing yards. He has tallied 107 yards on the ground in seven carries.
All but 17 of UCLA’s rushing yards have come from Kelley. With 290 passing yards, the Bruins have taken a throwing-heavy approach against the Wildcats. Wilton Speight completed a 13-yard pass and a 15-yard pass to set up Kelley’s run.
J.J. Taylor drives through defenders to give Arizona touchdown
J.J. Taylor drove up the middle for a one-yard rush, giving Arizona a 27-24 lead over UCLA.
Taylor carried the Arizona offense on the drive, with three rushes for 19 yards before the scoring run. Rhett Rodriguez connected with Devaughn Cooper for a 20-yard passing play to put the Wildcats in position.
Taylor has earned 143 rushing yards in 16 carries, but this was his first score of the game. He partnered with Gary Brightwell to give Arizona 259 rushing yards, dwarfing UCLA’s 92 rushing yards.
Demetric Felton powers into end zone to give UCLA 24-20 lead
Wilton Speight threw the pass to Demetric Felton, and Felton powered through defenders into the end zone for a 25-yard play, giving UCLA a 24-20 lead.
Speight completed three of his four passes on the drive, and Joshua Kelley contributed a 16-yard run, to give the Bruins the score. The six-play, 75-yard drive took less than two minutes and followed three consecutive scoring drives by Arizona.
Speight has completed 13 of his 22 passes for 162 yards with two touchdowns. Kelley has earned 71 rushing yards on 19 carries. His 16-yard rush on the Bruins’ scoring drive was his longest run of the night.
Elijah Gates snags UCLA’s second interception against Arizona
Arizona quarterback Rhett Rodriguez threw a pass to a receiver along the sideline, but Elijah Gates intercepted the throw, giving UCLA possession on its own 25-yard line.
The Bruins defense had effectively limited Arizona on the drive leading up to the Wildcats’ third turnover of the game. The Bruins gained seven rushing yards in combined efforts of Rodriguez and J.J. Taylor, before Rodriguez completed an 11-yard pass to Stanley Berryhill.
But following the 11-yard play, the UCLA defense struck, with Gates’ first career interception.
Arizona claims 20-7 lead over UCLA with field goal
Josh Pollack railed a 39-yard field goal that barely landed between the posts, giving Arizona a 20-17 lead over UCLA.
Arizona became poised to take the lead after Gary Brightwell exploded past the defense, tearing down the middle of the field for a 72-yard rush. Brightwell has totaled 99 yards on nine carries.
But after the big run, the Bruins limited the Arizona defense, preventing Rodriguez from completing any passes to force the field goal.
Wilton Speight fumble sets up Arizona for game-tying touchdown
In the first play of a drive following an Arizona field goal, Wilton Speight fumbled the football as he was sacked, turning the ball over to the Wildcats at UCLA’s 15-yard line.
After an 8-yard rush by Rhett Rodriguez and a 4-yard rush by J.J. Taylor, Rodriguez nailed an 11-yard pass to Shawn Poindexter, giving Arizona a touchdown to tie the game at 17.
Rodriguez has completed 11 of 25 passes for 157 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. The reception was Poindexter’s fourth of the night, as he’s earned 63 receiving yards with two touchdowns.
Arizona notches 29-yard field goal to cut UCLA lead to 17-10
Josh Pollack nailed a 29-yard field goal early in the third quarter, bringing Arizona to trail UCLA 17-10.
Rhett Rodriguez opened the nine-play, 71-yard drive by drilling a 31-yard pass to Devaughn Cooper. Later, J.J. Taylor made a 25-yard run, and Gary Brightwell added a 10-yard run to put Arizona in position to score.
But from there, the Bruin defense clamped down on the Arizona offense, limiting the damage to a field goal.
UCLA leads Arizona 17-7 at halftime
For the second time this season, UCLA enters halftime with the lead, with a 17-7 edge against Arizona. The last time UCLA led an opponent at the half was its 37-7 win against Cal the week before.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed five of his eight passes for 103 before being replaced by Wilton Speight, who completed eight of 14 passes for 87 yards. The two combined for two passing touchdowns.
The Bruins’ defense limited Arizona quarterback Rhett Rodriguez to complete eight of his 21 passes. But UCLA gave up 10 penalties for 78 yards in the half, and Joshua Kelley was limited to average 2.8 yards per carry.
Devin Asiasi scores touchdown in first reception as a Bruin
In his first reception for UCLA, Devin Asiasi snagged a touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone, giving UCLA a 17-7 lead over Arizona.
Wilton Speight, who replaced Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback, completed five of his six passes on the drive, which saw UCLA gain gradual yardage to get in scoring range in about five minutes.
A transfer from Michigan, Asiasi completed the 13-play, 75-yard drive with his 24-yard play. The drive was bolstered by rushes from Joshua Kelley. Kelley has earned 36 rushing yards in 13 carries so far.
Rhett Rodriguez connects with Shawn Poindexter in touchdown pass for Arizona
Rhett Rodriguez connected with Shawn Poindexter in the end zone for Arizona’s first score of the game, cutting UCLA’s lead to 10-7.
Arizona got in position when Rodriguez completed a 38-yard pass to Tony Ellison down the sideline. Gary Brightwell made a short rush, and Rodriguez rushed for no gain before the play to Poindexter.
In tight coverage, Poindexter ducked to the left of his defender and grabbed Rodriguez’s lofty pass on the right side of the end zone for a 13-yard scoring play.
Darnay Holmes forces Arizona fumble to give UCLA possession
As J.J. Taylor sprinted down the sideline, yards away from the end zone, Darnay Holmes punched the ball from his grip, forcing a fumble that he scooped up in the end zone, giving UCLA possession.
On Arizona’s first play of a drive in the second quarter, Taylor broke free of the UCLA defense and bolted down the field for a 55-yard play. Only Holmes was around to catch him when he turned the tide of the explosive play to hold Arizona scoreless.
It was the second time UCLA forced a turnover against the Arizona offense, the first an interception by Quentin Lake.
JJ Molson nails 40-yard field goal to give UCLA 10-0 lead
JJ Molson drilled a 40-yard field goal, giving UCLA a 10-0 lead to start the second quarter.
UCLA got in scoring position when Dorian Thompson-Robinson hurled a 58-yard pass that Theo Howard snagged on the right side of the end zone — Howard’s first reception of the game and his longest of the season.
But after UCLA struggled to gain yardage, Arizona sacked Thompson-Robinson on third-down, forcing UCLA to settle for a field goal.
Quentin Lake makes interception in end zone for UCLA
Arizona quarterback Rhett Rodriguez hurled a pass to the end zone, but UCLA cornerback Quentin Lake intercepted it.
Lake returned the interception 12 yards before being brought down after his first career interception for the Bruins.
In his first start for Arizona, Rodriguez threw his first career interception. He has completed two of his six pass attempts so far. J.J. Taylor has led the Arizona offensive effort, averaging six yards per carry in the first two drives.
Kazmeir Allen bolts for touchdown on UCLA’s opening drive
Dorian Thompson-Robinson tossed the pass to the left to Kazmeir Allen. Allen bolted down the open sideline to the end zone, for a 16-yard play that gave UCLA a 7-0 lead over Arizona in the first quarter.
Thompson-Robinson completed three of his four passes in the drive and contributed 22 rushing yards to put UCLA in scoring range. The touchdown run was Allen’s first reception of the game.
The 62-yard drive took nine plays and saw UCLA convert two third-down attempts while eating 4:11 off the clock.
Bruins vs. Wildcats: It’s a bit of a disappointment bowl
They will gather for the Disappointment Bowl on Saturday night inside the Rose Bowl, two teams eager to show they are on an upward trajectory under new coaches even if the early results have indicated otherwise.
A win under UCLA’s Chip Kelly has been a rarity on par with the epic Southern California rainstorm that preceded it. The coach wore the look of a man paroled when he met with reporters this week, his relief resulting from his first Bruins victory, which eliminated the possibility of an O-fer season.
“I’m not going to deny that,” Kelly said when asked if it was nice to head into a week with a win. “It’s a good thing to build upon.”
Arizona feels more like a complete teardown after star quarterback Khalil Tate, already hobbled and only semi-effective, was shut down for the game between the Wildcats (3-4 overall, 2-2 Pac-12) and the Bruins (1-5, 1-2) because his nagging ankle injury had badly deteriorated.
UCLA vs. Arizona: A look at how the Bruins and Wildcats match up
UCLA (1-5, 1-2) vs. Arizona (3-4, 2-2)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Rose Bowl. TV: ESPN2. Radio: 570, 1150, 97.3.
UCLA tailback Joshua Kelley versus Arizona’s run defense. Kelley is looking to become the first Bruins ballcarrier to run for at least 100 yards in four consecutive games since Tyler Ebell did it six straight times in 2002. There could be plenty of room to roam against a run defense allowing 202 yards per game, second-worst in the Pac-12 Conference. The Wildcats permitted three Utah players to top 50 yards rushing last week during the Utes’ 42-10 romp.
Andre James to play for UCLA only a few days after his father’s death
Only five days after his father’s death, Andre James paid the man he once called his inspiration another tribute.
The UCLA left tackle has suited up to play against Arizona at the Rose Bowl on Saturday after returning home to Utah earlier in the week for a celebration of his father’s life. Marcus James died Monday after a more than yearlong battle with testicular cancer.
Andre missed practices Tuesday and Wednesday before rejoining his team. Bruins guard Christaphany Murray said earlier this week that the players would rally around their teammate.
“He knows we’re all brothers and we got his back every day,” Murray said, “so my prayers are going to him, and whatever he has to deal with, he knows here we’ve got it” taken care of for him.
After finishing one round of chemotherapy, Marcus James was able to attend his son’s game against Utah last November in Salt Lake City, near the suburb where Andre had grown up. Andre also pinned a tweet on Twitter showing his dad smiling in a hospital room while looking at a television screen showing the final score of UCLA’s comeback victory over Texas A&M last season.
“I play for things like this…” Andre wrote as the photo caption.