UCLA vs. Colorado: Colorado 38, UCLA 16

Behind an exceptional performance from quarterback Steven Montez, Colorado defeated UCLA 38-16 on Friday night.

The Bruins trailed the Buffaloes 14-13 at the half and took the lead early in the third quarter with a field goal, but Colorado dominated the second half. Steven Montez completed 22 of 26 pass attempts to gain 237 yards and score a touchdown, along with 81 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Colorado remains undefeated, while UCLA drops to 0-4; Chip Kelly has yet to record a win as UCLA’s coach.

Colorado defeats UCLA 38-16 to remain undefeated

Behind an exceptional performance from quarterback Steven Montez, Colorado defeated UCLA 38-16 on Friday night.

The Bruins trailed the Buffaloes 14-13 at the half and took the lead early in the third quarter with a field goal, but Colorado dominated the second half. Montez completed 22 of 26 pass attempts to gain 237 yards and score a touchdown, along with 81 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Montez’s primary target, Laviska Shenault, tallied 126 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Travon McMillian ran for 102 yards and a touchdown.

The Bruins, on the other hand, struggled to convert scoring opportunities into touchdowns, as Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed 17 of his 35 passing attempts to tally 138 yards and score a touchdown.

Colorado remains undefeated, while UCLA drops to 0-4; Chip Kelly has yet to record a win as UCLA’s coach.

Steven Montez scores 35-yard rushing touchdown to give Colorado 38-16 lead

Steven Montez sprinted 35 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, giving Colorado a 38-16 lead over UCLA.

Montez deceived the defense with a fake handoff before darting down the left sideline with no Bruins near him. It was his second rushing touchdown and his longest run of the game.

The 63-yard scoring drive was accomplished in five rushes, including a 16-yard run by Travon McMillian that put the Buffaloes in Bruin territory.

Montez has given the Bruins trouble throwing as well, completing 22 of 26 passes for 237 yards.

James Stefanou’s field goal gives Colorado 31-16 lead

Kicker James Stefanou completed a 41-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, giving Colorado a 31-16 lead over UCLA.

On second-and-18 on Colorado’s 19-yard-line, Steven Montez completed a pass to Shadon Brown that became a 53-yard play. The Buffaloes gained four net yards on the next three plays before the field goal.

The reception was Brown’s longest of the night. He has gained 77 yards in six catches for the Buffaloes.

Travon McMillian earns rushing touchdown to extend Colorado’s lead to 28-16

Travon McMillian darted through the UCLA defense six yards for a touchdown, extending Colorado’s lead to 28-16 entering the fourth quarter.

On a 13-play, 67-yard drive that ate 5:47 off the clock, Colorado made gradual gains to exhaust the UCLA defense while the Buffaloes approached the end zone.

Steven Montez picked up first-and-goal for the Buffaloes when a scramble under pressure turned into an 11-yard gain, setting up McMillian to score on the next play.

The Bruins’ defense has struggled to contain Montez, who completed 19 of his 23 passes for 188 yards while rushing for 47 yards after the third quarter.

Colorado claims 21-16 lead with rushing touchdown

Bolstered by a 31-yard play by Kyle Evans, Colorado claimed a 21-16 lead over UCLA, capping off the scoring drive with a rushing touchdown.

After a pair of completions by Steven Montez put Colorado on UCLA’s 40-yard line, Evans’ catch-and-run play put the Buffaloes within nine yards of the end zone. Evans and Laviska Shenault each contributed four-yard rushes before Shenault sealed the score with a one-yard touchdown run.

Colorado has tallied 191 passing yards and 99 rushing yards against UCLA. Shenault contributed 120 receiving yards, 16 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

JJ Molson nails third field goal to give UCLA 16-14 lead

JJ Molson nailed his third field goal against Colorado, a 40-yard kick that gave UCLA a 16-14 lead in the third quarter.

After making an 11-yard run the play before, Josh Kelley bolted for a 44-yard rush to put UCLA in field goal range. The run was Kelley’s longest of the game; he rushed 114 yards in six carries.

But the Colorado defense clamped down on UCLA after Kelley’s explosive run. On the next three plays, UCLA recovered its own fumble, Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw an incomplete pass and Martell Irby rushed for no gain, forcing UCLA to attempt the field goal on fourth down.

Molson made each of his attempts tonight and has not missed a field goal yet this season.

Colorado leads UCLA 14-13 at the half

After failing to complete a scoring drive in the final minutes of the second quarter, Colorado enters the half leading UCLA 14-13.

When the Bruins made a 50-yard field goal to trail the Buffaloes by one, Colorado tried to make a last-minute scoring run before the half. But the Buffaloes’ efforts were hampered by penalties, as the Bruin defense held them outside scoring range to end the half.

UCLA’s 13 points are the most it has scored in the first half all season. Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed 12 of 19 pass attempts for 96 yards and a touchdown.

UCLA trails 14-13 after JJ Molson makes 50-yard field goal

JJ Molson drilled a 50-yard field goal, the longest of his career, to leave the Bruins trailing Colorado by one with minutes left in the half.

The Bruins’ late drive was in jeopardy when a pass by Dorian Thompson-Robinson fell two yards short of completing a third-down conversion. But Martell Irby made a six-yard rush on fourth down, keeping the drive alive so UCLA could reach field goal range.

UCLA drove 47 yards in 10 plays to put Molson in position for the kick. Molson hadn’t attempted a field goal in a game since a successful kick in UCLA’s season opener against Cincinnati, but he has made both of his attempts against Colorado.

Steven Montez rushes for touchdown to give Colorado 14-10 lead

Quarterback Steven Montez powered Colorado to the end zone with a 10-yard rush, giving Colorado a 14-10 lead over UCLA.

Montez, who has completed nine of his 11 pass attempts, led the Buffaloes down the field with a series of big passes, including a 14-yard completion to Leviska Shenault that gave Colorado a first down in the red zone.

Montez faked the handoff then darted to the right, completing the 85-yard scoring drive. It was Montez’s third run of the night, earning 21 rushing yards.

UCLA takes 10-7 lead with field goal in first quarter

UCLA kicker JJ Molson drilled a 21-yard field goal in the first quarter, giving the Bruins a 10-7 lead over Colorado.

The Bruins drove down the field 61 yards behind a balanced attack that included a 29-yard run by Josh Kelley. But they could not complete the touchdown attempt, as Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw two incomplete passes.

With Molson’s field goal, UCLA ended the first quarter with the lead, tying the most points the Bruins have scored in the first quarter so far this season.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson connects with Michael Ezeike to give UCLA 7-0 lead

Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed a touchdown pass on third-and-goal to Michael Ezeike, giving UCLA a 7-0 lead over Colorado in the first quarter.

Thompson-Robinson has completed six of his seven passes for 35 yards so far.

The 11-yard pass was Ezeike’s second touchdown reception of the season and was bolstered by a 32-yard punt return by Kyle Phillips that got the Bruins in prime field position as they completed the 37-yard scoring drive.

Laviska Shenault makes 57-yard reception to give Colorado touchdown

Laviska Shenault bolted down the field and made a 57-yard reception for a touchdown. With the score, Colorado tied UCLA 7-7 in the first quarter.

The catch was Shenault’s second of the game and his third touchdown reception of the season, in a seven-play scoring drive that answered UCLA’s score the drive before.

Quarterback Steven Montez has been effective against the Bruin defense, completing three of his four pass attempts for 69 yards.

UCLA’s starting quarterback still a mystery in the minutes before kickoff

There was little clarity about who would be UCLA’s starting quarterback against Colorado in the hours before kickoff Friday at Folsom Field.

Wilton Speight, who had not played since suffering a back injury in the season opener, emerged two hours before the game’s start in a black long-sleeve UCLA T-shirt with gray shorts and white compression tights.

He warmed up for the first time since he sustained his injury. He took some pregame snaps from Christaphany Murray, the Bruins’ starting center over their first three games.

But Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who had started the Bruins’ last two games in Speight’s absence, worked with the first-string offensive line closer to kickoff.

The answer as to who will take the first snap will be known soon enough.

The Bruins are looking for an offensive spark

Fresno State's Jeff Allison, left, closes in on UCLA's Dorian Thompson-Robinson on Sept. 15.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Mike Bellotti watched parts of UCLA’s last two football games, noticing some things that vaguely reminded him of the offenses that Bruins coach Chip Kelly once ran at Oregon.

The team’s tempo was not among them.

“Well, I don’t know how to say this: It’s barely average,” said Bellotti, the retired Ducks coach whom Kelly succeeded almost a decade ago. “There’s nothing there that I think puts a lot of fear into the heart of the defenses.”

Kelly’s Oregon offenses were so fast they were known as the blur. They diced up defenses with rapid-fire plays that relied on efficiency and a robust run game to wear down opponents.

It probably helped that those offenses never had a true freshman quarterback taking the snap from a true freshman center and handing off to a true freshman running back.

Before you can blur, you have to crawl. That may be the agonizing truth UCLA’s fresh-out-of-the-crib offense has learned while mostly going three and out amid the team’s 0-3 start heading into its Pac-12 Conference opener against Colorado (3-0) on Friday in Boulder.

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The Bruins’ defense has relied in part on freshmen

UCLA takes the field to face Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., on Sept. 8.
(Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

Tyler Manoa sized up the 400-pound offensive lineman standing in front of him and didn’t see a friend so much as someone he wanted to pummel.

“On the field, we had a problem,” Manoa said this week of going against Atonio Mafi in high school.

Off the field, the Bay Area natives liked to hang out together. So it was no surprise that they went from rivals to roommates once they arrived at UCLA this summer.

The freshmen also joined forces after Mafi initiated a position switch from guard to nose tackle. That made him nearly inseparable from Manoa, a defensive end, in practices and meetings.

Said Manoa: “That’s my guy now.”

Said Mafi: “Now, you know, we’re brothers.”

The brotherhood has extended to include Otito Ogbonnia, another freshman and part of one of the youngest defensive lines in the Pac-12, if not the nation. All three freshmen have manned the line together this season, providing a glimpse of what could become a more dominant Bruins defense.

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Bruins vs. Buffaloes: How UCLA and Colorado match up

UCLA freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

UCLA (0-3, 0-0) at Colorado (3-0, 0-0)

Friday, 6 p.m. PDT, Folsom Field. TV: FS1. Radio: 1150, 97.3.

Marquee matchup

UCLA’s secondary versus Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault. The Bruins made the Buffaloes’ top receiving target such a priority in practice this week that they designated two members of their scout team to wear his No. 2. He’s worth the attention after a start in which he’s caught 26 passes for 455 yards and three touchdowns, landing him on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the nation’s top receiver. UCLA’s defensive backs were supposed to be a strength, but the Bruins are allowing 228.7 passing yards per game, ninth in the Pac-12 Conference.

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Bruins look for improvement against unbeaten Buffaloes

UCLA coach Chip Kelly watches his football team go down in defeat against Fresno State on Sept. 15 at the Rose Bowl.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The text message reached Chip Kelly’s phone this month, with one UCLA loss down and two to go amid the Bruins’ worst start to a football season in 47 years.

“Water the bamboo,” read the encouragement from Mike Bellotti, Kelly’s former boss and mentor.

The words were familiar to the UCLA coach. Kelly had used that expression while he was at Oregon to explain a team’s imperceptible growth similar to that of the Giant timber bamboo.

“If you water [this type of] bamboo in the first year, nothing happens,” Kelly said late in the 2009 season. “If you water it in the second year, nothing happens. If you water it in the third year, nothing happens.

“If you water it in the fourth year, it grows 90 feet in six weeks.”

Nobody associated with the Bruins (0-3) intends to wait four years for success — much less the first victory of the Kelly era — but the team’s patience remained palpable as it prepared to open Pac-12 Conference play Friday evening at Folsom Field against Colorado (3-0).

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