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Dorian Thompson-Robinson accounts for 6 TDs, UCLA scores its most points ever vs. USC

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson hurdles USC safety Chase Williams in front of cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson hurdles USC safety Chase Williams in front of cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart to score a fourth-quarter touchdown in the Bruins’ 62-33 win Saturday at the Coliseum.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The game essentially over, the outcome long decided, Dorian Thompson-Robinson wanted more in his final moments against his most hated rival.

The UCLA senior quarterback took the snap deep in USC territory and charged to his right with a little less than four minutes to play, plenty of open field in front of him. As he sprinted inside the 10-yard line, there was only one defender to beat.

One defender who could stop the Bruins from hanging the most points on the Trojans in the 92-year history of the rivalry.

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One defender who could prevent Thompson-Robinson from leaving the legacy he wanted after vowing to beat the “everliving s—” out of the Trojans.

One defender who could keep the quarterback from further silencing the critics who had assailed his inconsistency and maddening tendency to attempt — and fail — to hurdle defenders.

UCLA could easily suffer the same fate as USC and stumble into a lost season soon if it decides to hang on to Chip Kelly too long, Bill Plaschke writes.

Never one to back down, Thompson-Robinson eyed cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart and vaulted once more. He cleared the defender, leaving Taylor-Stuart to grasp at air and get only a piece of the quarterback’s foot on his way to the end zone.

Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins had stuck the landing on what would become a momentous 62-33 whipping of USC at the Coliseum, eliciting roars from the pockets of blue and gold in the season-high crowd of 68,152 thrilled by their team’s first victory here since 2013 and only its third since 1997.

“It’s just one of those things where it was just in the moment, juices flowing,” said Thompson-Robinson, whose final touchdown gave his team a 55-33 lead, “and that’s the move I decided to go with in that situation.”

Almost everything UCLA (7-4 overall, 5-3 Pac-12) tried worked on an afternoon it posted the Bruins’ biggest margin of victory in the rivalry since a 34-0 triumph in 1954 and tied a dubious USC record for most points allowed, matching beatdowns by Oregon in 2012 and Arizona State in 2013.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson escapes a tackle attempt by USC cornerback Jayden Williams.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, left, escapes a tackle attempt by USC cornerback Jayden Williams near the goal line in the fourth quarter.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Thompson-Robinson was the centerpiece of UCLA rolling up a season-high 609 yards of offense, accounting for 395 total yards and six touchdowns in one of his best all-around efforts.

Looking like he might be headed to his worst showing as a Bruin, Thompson-Robinson finished with one of his best. His first two passes were intercepted. His next two fell incomplete. He was nearly perfect the rest of the game, completing 16 of his final 18 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns.

“He’s a special player,” Bruins coach Chip Kelly said, “and I’ve said it since the beginning, you know, I love the kid, he’s as tough as they come both mentally and physically and that was just on display today.”

UCLA unveiled an ensemble cast to support Thompson-Robinson on a day the team was missing injured running back Brittain Brown. Running back Zach Charbonnet ran for 167 yards and a touchdown and Kazmeir Allen returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and caught three passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

Thompson-Robinson savored every moment, even making time to sign a hat late in the second quarter. After running for a four-yard touchdown, his momentum carrying him through the corner of the end zone toward the stands, Thompson-Robinson approached a 12-year-old fan standing near a wall ledge in a USC T-shirt who handed him a UCLA hat and a pen.

Thompson-Robinson complied with the request, earning a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The fan, Declan Manz, said he started to like the quarterback after Thompson-Robinson had tossed him one of his gloves following the 2019 rivalry game and hoped to get him to sign the hat on his way off the field before halftime.

Declin Manz holds the UCLA hat Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson signed.
Declin Manz, 12, holds the UCLA hat Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson signed after Thompson-Robinson scored a touchdown in the second quarter against USC at the Coliseum on Saturday.
(Ben Bolch / Los Angeles Times)

This was even better, Manz earning airtime on national television.

“I was glad to make that kid’s day,” Thompson-Robinson said, “but obviously you can’t have that.”

The drubbing solidified the embattled Kelly’s standing while serving as further repudiation of USC’s efforts to salvage its season under interim coach Donte Williams.

The Trojans (4-6, 3-5) were laughably bad during a sequence in the second quarter in which they had one long completion wiped out by pass interference and another taken off the board by an ineligible receiver. What would have been a first-down pass then sailed through Gary Bryant Jr.’s hands on third down before long snapper Damon Johnson was called for a personal foul for continuing to play after his helmet had come off on a punt.

“I feel like from a schematic standpoint, people just aren’t doing their job, for the most part,” USC cornerback Chris Steele said after the Trojans lost a fourth home game for the first time since 2000. “Just broken plays, missed assignments.”

The Trojans’ run game largely stalled after Keaontay Ingram (96 yards in 17 carries) left with a rib injury in the third quarter. Freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart continued his tendency to alternate good and bad plays while completing 27 of 47 passes for 325 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.

After he misfired on a pass that UCLA cornerback Cameron Johnson intercepted at the goal line late in the third quarter, sealing the Trojans’ fate, Dart pounded his helmet in disgust.

There were only good vibes across the field. UCLA running back Ethan Fernea, a former walk-on who broke his wrist early this season and returned with a massive club on his hand, ran for a 42-yard touchdown with 1:41 left that sent his teammates into a frenzy.

As he walked up the tunnel after the game, UCLA linebacker Shea Pitts yelled “This is our city!” while defensive lineman Martin Andrus Jr. inquired about the whereabouts of the Victory Bell that would be headed back across town.
Thompson-Robinson lingered on the field, getting a hug from UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond and a compliment from Jill Kelly, Chip’s wife, about his hurdle. Thompson-Robinson ran toward the far end zone to acknowledge the UCLA fans before doubling back toward the Coliseum tunnel.

That’s where he found Manz once more, the USC fan telling Thompson-Robinson he was his favorite quarterback. The sun setting over the edge of the stadium’s rim, the boy handed Thompson-Robinson a phone so they could pose for a picture.

Perfect, you might say.

Freshman Jaxson Dart struggled to make a big impact in his first collegiate start, throwing two interceptions in USC’s 62-33 loss to UCLA.


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