Quentin Lake returns to help UCLA’s conquest bid in rivalry game

USC wide receiver Amon-ra St. Brown makes a catch in front of UCLA’s Quentin Lake.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Kedon Slovis is back to torment UCLA, along with three of the four Trojans receivers who formed a 4x100 team by all going over 100 yards last year in a rivalry romp.

It might sound like another runaway until one considers what they’ll face Saturday at the Rose Bowl. UCLA has a new defensive scheme, renewed vigor and a familiar face returning in the secondary, giving it hope for a far different outcome.

“Well, one, I’m out there, so I think that makes a difference,” Bruins safety Quentin Lake said Monday with a smile, alluding to his having missed the Trojans’ 52-35 rout in 2019 with a hand injury.


His presence meant everything in the final moments last weekend.

Lake swiped away a desperation pass in the end zone to preserve UCLA’s victory over Arizona State and reveal how a former Bruin could help his alma mater win a game more than two decades after his departure.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson compiled one of his most efficient performances against Arizona State in his return from quarantine.

Dec. 6, 2020

That game-saving move, it turned out, was partially the handiwork of Carnell Lake, a five-time Pro Bowl player in the NFL after starring at linebacker for the Bruins in the 1980s.

“We went over that same type of technique over and over again,” Quentin said of his father, “so it was nothing new to me.”

Quentin was positioned in the middle of the field as the fourth-down play began but knew he needed to be on the same side as Jayden Daniels once he saw the Sun Devils quarterback roll out because Daniels was unlikely to heave the ball across his body. The next few seconds were a blur as Lake cut across the field and broke up the pass intended for LV Bunkley-Shelton.

“Speed turn, track the ball and went up and made a play,” Lake said. “I’m lucky it was the game-saving play.”

Lake hardly looked like someone who had been forced to sit in a room the previous two weeks as a result of contact-tracing protocols related to COVID-19, missing games against Oregon and Arizona. His return was all the more special because Carnell was allowed to attend the game at Sun Devil Stadium as part of a contingent of family members permitted access.


Father and son celebrated the next day by watching more game footage, including some involving the Trojans.

“He gave me some tips and some pointers for them because he’s a resource I want to use,” Quentin said. “He’s played at UCLA, played in the league, so it’s critical to get some advice from him.”

Quentin is part of a resurgent Bruins defense that leads the Pac-12 Conference with 18 sacks and is giving up 229.4 yards passing per game, less than half of the school-record 515 it yielded to Slovis last season. UCLA hasn’t faced a passing attack as potent as the Trojans’ but won’t cower in its cleats Saturday.

“It’s a challenge,” Lake said, “but it’s not a challenge that we can’t overcome.”

What a trip

UCLA freshman kicker R.J. Lopez might have saved a touchdown before halftime by simply sticking out his foot.

Arizona State’s D.J. Taylor was running free toward the sideline on a kickoff return when Lopez approached and extended his right foot, upending Taylor at the Sun Devils’ 44-yard line. Taylor was assessed a penalty for tripping, giving Arizona State the ball at the Bruins’ 41-yard line with 22 seconds left before halftime.

The Sun Devils eventually kicked a field goal but might have scored a touchdown had Lopez not made a play that was frowned upon by UCLA coach Chip Kelly.

“That’s not how we teach to tackle and that’s not how we’re supposed to do it and we were penalized for doing it,” Kelly said.

Finally given a chance to be the primary running back, Felton is averaging nearly 135 yards a game, including a career-best 206 last week against Arizona.

Dec. 3, 2020

Reopen season

The Bruins may have lost another top prospect after Gardena Serra High receiver and defensive back Devin Kirkwood announced on Twitter that he was reopening his recruitment.

“UCLA remains one of my top schools,” wrote Kirkwood, who had been verbally committed to the Bruins. “My decision will be based upon how impactful I can be at the next level and where I truly see myself accomplishing my ultimate goals.”

Deshun Murrell, a running back from Centreville (Ala.) Bibb County High who was once committed to the Bruins, reopened his recruitment last month.


Kelly said wide receiver Jaylen Erwin and running back Kazmeir Allen, who have not played since the game against California last month for unspecified reasons, remained unavailable this week. Running back Martell Irby, who has not played this season, also remained unavailable, Kelly said.