UCLA defeats Washington 24-17 behind balanced offense and opportunistic defense

UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet (24) carries the ball against Washington Saturday
UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet (24) carries the ball against Washington Saturday in Seattle.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as UCLA defeated Washington to improve to 5-2, 3-1 in Pac-12 play.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson helps UCLA turn tide in fourth quarter, beat Washington

SEATTLE — Little has come easy for UCLA this season, and this was no different.

Seemingly on the way to a runaway victory against a Washington team struggling to move the ball, the Bruins’ defense faltered, their offense sputtered and suddenly the score was tied.

Needing a big play to reverse its fortunes midway through the fourth quarter Saturday night, UCLA turned to Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The senior quarterback provided two.

Facing a fourth and one, with Huskies players waving white towels on the sideline to intensify the din of the Husky Stadium crowd, Thompson-Robinson cut outside for a two-yard run.

Later, Thompson-Robinson zipped a nine-yard touchdown pass over the middle to tight end Greg Dulcich for the go-ahead score during UCLA’s 24-17 victory.

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UCLA defeats Washington, 24-17, improves to 5-2 and 3-1 in Pac-12 play

UCLA grinded out a 24-17 victory at Washington on Saturday night behind a balanced offense and opportunistic defense.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed 21 of 26 passes for 183 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score.

Zach Charbonnet rushed for 131 yards in 21 carries, leading a Bruins running game that amassed 237 yards.

UCLA’s defense held Washington to 83rushing yards, relegating the Huskies to an inconsistent air attack. An interception by Devin Kirkwood in the fourth quarter sealed the game.


Interception at the goal line by UCLA’s Devin Kirkwood thwarts Washington drive

Devin Kirkwood outwrestled a Washington receiver and intercepted a long pass at the goal line to preserve UCLA’s 24-17 lead with 5:28 to play.

Washington had moved 27 yards to the UCLA 48 when quarterback Dylan Morris tried a long pass on a post pattern by Cam Sims. Kirkwood caught the ball with outstretched arms and UCLA took possession at the four-yard line.

UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet ran for nine yards, then five yards, on UCLA’s first two plays after the interception to pick up a first down.


UCLA leads 24-17 after completing a 90-yard drive with a touchdown

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson continued his exceptional evening by finishing an 90-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Dulcich.

The march chewed 5:47 and left a tad more than eight minutes to play. Thompson-Robinson hit Dulcich for a 16-yard gain to the Washington 12 two plays before the touchdown.

Early in the drive, Zach Charbonnet ran for first downs on gains of 16 and 14 yards.


Washington ties UCLA 17-17 with touchdown to cap 75-yard drive

Quarterback Dylan Morris scored on a fourth-down run of one yard to pull Washington even with UCLA 17-17 with 6:55 to play in the third quarter.

Although UCLA dominated most of the first half, Washington put together the first sustained drive of the second half, marching 75 yards in nine plays.

After Morris completed a pass to Jalen McMillan for 23 yards following a sack, ran for 32 yards and 15 yards on consecutive plays to move the ball to the UCLA seven.


UCLA holds Washington to four yards rushing in first half and leads 17-10

UCLA’s Nicholas Barr-Mira missed a 54-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the first half, and the teams went to their locker rooms with the Bruins leading 17-10.

Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed 10 of 13 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown in six carries.

Zach Charbonnet rushed for 60 yards in eight carries and Brittain Brown added 26 yards in three carries as the Bruins gained 133 yards on the ground.

Washington quarterback Morris completed 15 of 22 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies were held to four yards rushing.


Washington answers with a touchdown in the first half’s final minute

UCLA dominated most of the first half, but Washington pulled within striking distance by scoring on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Morris to Rome Odunze in the final minute.

Giles Jackson returned the kickoff following UCLA’s second touchdown 31 yards, giving the Huskies decent field position. Morris was efficient moving Washington down the field, then hit Odunze with the TD strike in the back corner of the end zone.


Dorian Thompson-Robinson does it all on a TD drive that puts UCLA ahead 17-3

Big plays by Dorian Thompson-Robinson marked the drive, and a one-yard plunge by the Bruins quarterback on fourth down capped it.

UCLA extended its lead to 17-3 with 3:23 left in the first half, taking only 2:19 to drive 56 yards in six plays.

After Logan Loya returned a punt 16 yards to set up the Bruins at their own 44 yard-line, Thompson-Robinson scrambled for 22 yards then connected with Chase Cota for 27 yards to put UCLA inside the 10.

The Washington defense tightened, but Thompson-Robinson was able to score on a quarterback sneak on fourth down.


UCLA extends lead to 10-3 after chewing up yardage on the ground

Nicholas Barr-Mira kicked a 39-yard field goal with seven minutes to play in the first half to extend UCLA’s lead to 10-3.

After moving the ball mainly through the air in their touchdown drive, the Bruins chewed up yardage on the ground to put Barr-Mira in position for the kick.

Brittain Brown rambled 22 yards to push the ball past midfield and Zach Charbonnet dashed 12 yards for a first down at the Washington 24-yard line.


UCLA takes 7-3 lead with quick-strike drive

UCLA used a blend of Zach Charbonnet runs and crisp passes from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to go 67 yards in seven plays and take a 7-3 lead with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.

Thompson-Robinson hit Kam Brown from 17 yards for the touchdown, which was set up by a 23-yard run by Carbonnet.

Tompson-Robinson also hit Chase Cota for 19 yards and Logan Loya for 18 yards to fuel the drive.


UCLA holds Washington to a field goal after Huskies drive 74 yards

Washington struck first on a 25-yard field goal by Peyton Henry with 3:23 to play in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead.

The Huskies drove 74 yards and ate up more than five minutes. They had a first down inside the 10, but UCLA shut down two running plays and Dylan Morris threw an incomplete pass on third down.


Quentin Lake intercepts a pass early, but UCLA’s offense stalls

Washington took the opening kickoff and went on a modest march to its 41-yard line before pass by Dylan Morris was intercepted by UCLA’s Quentin Lake at the UCLA 30.

The Bruins couldn’t move the ball, however, notching only one first down on a nine-yard run by Zach Charbonnet before punting with 8:54 left in the first quarter.


Top UCLA at Washington storylines to watch today

Here comes another chance for Chip Kelly to build some momentum. Previous tries haven’t gone well.

UCLA fell flat against Fresno State after that majestic triumph over Louisiana State and went splat against Arizona State following a road win over Stanford. Now, after holding off Arizona last weekend, the Bruins (4-2 overall, 2-1 Pac-12) can snag a second consecutive victory when they face Washington (2-3, 1-1) at Husky Stadium for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff that will be broadcast by Fox. Las Vegas oddsmakers have noticed UCLA’s maddening inconsistency, making the Bruins 1½-point underdogs against a team that lost at home to Montana. Times staff writer Ben Bolch looks at the game’s matchups and story lines:

Run for it

UCLA’s biggest advantage might be in the run game, something the Bruins do exceedingly well and Washington has statistically struggled to stop.

But about those statistics …

UCLA offensive lineman Paul Grattan hoists up running back Zach Charbonnet after he scored against Fresno State
UCLA offensive lineman Paul Grattan (65) lifts up running back Zach Charbonnet (24) after Charbonnet scored against Fresno State at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 18 in Pasadena.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“Statistics can get you beat,” Kelly said. “Turn the tape on, that’s a really, really, really good defense. They’re tough, they’re physical, they get after you, I think they’re really well-coached, so we’ve got our hands full with their defense in every facet.”

Maybe, but there’s no debating the numbers heavily favor the Bruins. UCLA is averaging 217 yards rushing per game — No. 21 in the nation—and Washington is giving up 173 yards on the ground, which ranks No. 99 in the nation.

If those trends hold up, the Huskies could be headed for a second home loss by the season’s midpoint.

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UCLA at Washington: College football betting picks, odds and analysis

UCLA visits Washington at 5:30 p.m. PDT Saturday in a game between teams trying to climb back into the Pac-12 division races.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have installed Washington as a 1 1/2-point favorite with an over/under of 55 1/2 points.

VSiN’s Matt Youmans breaks down the matchup and Dave Tuley, who nailed the UCLA-Arizona under-61 and Arizona under-20 team point total in last week’s Los Angeles Times, gives his best bet.

UCLA at Washington Huskies (-1 1/2, 55 1/2)

Youmans: The buzz about the Bruins has quieted after home losses to Fresno State and Arizona State, and the truth is coach Chip Kelly’s team has done nothing special. UCLA has four wins over opponents (Hawaii, Louisiana State, Stanford and Arizona) that are currently unranked, and LSU’s demise has diminished the significance of even that accomplishment.

The Bruins do run the ball exceptionally well, which is what Kelly’s offensive philosophy is all about. UCLA rolled up 329 rushing yards last Saturday in a 34-16 win over Pac-12 doormat Arizona. Brittain Brown ran for 146 yards in 12 carries, and Zach Charbonnet had 117 yards in 21 carries. The running attack helps to reduce the volatility in the play of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who has big-time playmaking ability but also makes costly mistakes.

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UCLA tailback Brittain Brown learned at a young age to leave defenders in his wake

UCLA's Brittain Brown carries the ball against Hawaii on Aug. 28
UCLA running back Brittain Brown (28) carries the ball against Hawaii on Aug. 28 in Pasadena.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The old Walter Payton video shows the Chicago Bears running back delivering as many hits as he receives, lowering his shoulder, extending his arm, continually punishing defenders while his legs churn through one failed tackle after another.

At one point, wearing his famed white headband, Payton labors his way up a steep hill to reveal offseason workouts that took more than a day to recover from.

It was all the inspiration Brittain Brown needed.

The boy would watch the VHS footage, rising for Saturday morning workouts with his older brother in the hills around their suburban Atlanta home.

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UCLA coach Chip Kelly needs wins during a difficult stretch to keep his job

UCLA coach Chip Kelly gestures from the sideline during a game against Arizona on Oct. 9
UCLA coach Chip Kelly gestures from the sideline during a game against Arizona on Oct. 9 in Tucson, Ariz.
(Chris Coduto / Associated Press)

The protagonist has been introduced, a once-admired coach seeking redemption after a midlife slump that raised questions about his brilliance.

The drama has heightened, 3 1/2 unsatisfying seasons leaving those questions largely unanswered amid more losses than wins as well as a trajectory suggesting a breakthrough remains possible.

Now comes the climax for Chip Kelly.

Can the UCLA coach create his Disney ending? Can he generate the success needed to energize a droopy fan base and secure a contract extension?

The next three weeks should reveal the answers after the Bruins slogged their way to a 34-16 victory over Arizona on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium that revealed little besides the team’s ability to avoid a mortifying stumble.

UCLA (4-2 overall, 2-1 Pac-12 Conference) will enter the toughest pocket of its schedule next weekend in Seattle, a road game against Washington followed by a home game against No. 9 Oregon and a road game against Utah.

Win all three games and the season would be an unequivocal success, barring late missteps against Colorado, USC and California teams that may be headed for historically bad seasons.

Win two of three games and it would probably silence Kelly’s critics — for the moment, anyway — and put him on the path toward securing an extension of a contract that expires after the 2022 season.

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