Failed two-point try seals UCLA’s 48-47 double-OT loss to Stanford in season finale
The game stretched on and on, never caring that there was a 10 p.m. curfew in Los Angeles County.
One overtime touchdown followed another Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, UCLA matching Stanford improbable play for improbable play, until the Bruins elected to go for the win on a two-point conversion in the second overtime.
It was a familiar situation for UCLA coach Chip Kelly, who had shown a tendency to run up the middle on fourth-and-short plays this season despite negligible success in those situations. Kelly initially called for a pass on the two-point conversion, but that led to a do-over after offsetting penalties.
What came next was all too predictable, and crushing, for the Bruins.
The College Football Playoff semifinal game at the Rose Bowl has been relocated to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, because of coronavirus restrictions.
Running back Brittain Brown took the handoff and charged up the middle. He needed three yards to reach the end zone. He got two before running into a wall of defenders and getting dragged down among a pile of bodies.
Game over. Season ended. Hopes crushed.
It was a second consecutive deflating defeat for the Bruins, a 48-47 setback in double overtime that gave them a third consecutive losing season under Kelly and muffled all of the enthusiasm generated by a second-half rally in which they had scored 31 unanswered points.
“We’re just running out of some guys,” Kelly said of a rash of injuries that prompted him to go for the win, “so I didn’t know how much longer we could continue to go, so we’re going to take a shot.”
Victory appeared assured for UCLA (3-4) with 5½ minutes left in the fourth quarter after Bruins cornerback Jay Shaw returned his team’s third interception of the game 39 yards for a touchdown to provide a 34-20 lead.
Highlights from UCLA’s 48-47 loss in double overtime to Stanford on Saturday.
But, as they showed last week, nothing comes easy for these Bruins.
Stanford rallied furiously to force overtime, benefiting from backup quarterback Chase Griffin’s fumble on a botched exchange and a controversial fourth-down spot that went the Cardinal’s way. Stanford quarterback Davis Mills tied the score after lofting a 21-yard touchdown pass to Simi Fehoko with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Fehoko was a game-long nuisance, finishing with 16 catches for 230 yards and three touchdowns, including a 14-yard scoring catch for his team’s touchdown in the second overtime. UCLA cornerback Mo Osling said there was never any consideration to double-team Fehoko.
Trevor Lawrence accounted for three touchdowns, and Clemson avenged a regular-season loss to Notre Dame and won its sixth straight ACC title.
“Nah, we just stuck to our game plan,” said Osling, who made one of the Bruins’ interceptions. “Sometimes guys are going to catch the ball.”
All had appeared lost for the Bruins in the second quarter with their star running back unavailable, their starting quarterback injured and their offense sputtering while falling behind 20-3.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson pounded the grass with his hand as he lay crumpled on the field only a few minutes before halftime, acknowledging the pain in his leg and the fury that his season might be over.
There was momentary hope when Thompson-Robinson slung his arms over supportive shoulders while walking cautiously into a medical tent. He emerged to test his injury, twice sprinting for a few yards before hobbling and coming to an abrupt halt. The grimace on his face revealed that his night, and possibly his college career, had suffered a cruel ending.
The Bruins opened the game as if they were still absorbed in their loss to USC from a week earlier, falling behind by 17 points on a night they were short-handed before kickoff. Demetric Felton Jr. took part in senior day festivities but did not play because of an unspecified injury, depriving UCLA of one of the Pac-12’s top running backs.
NFL scouts who came to see Felton stayed because of Brown, rushing for a career-high 219 yards to spark the Bruins’ comeback. Griffin added two of his four touchdown passes before overtime and the Bruins generated an improbable haul of interceptions considering Mills had not given up one in his previous 222 passes.
Griffin had looked like the hero in the second overtime after zipping an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Philips in the front corner of the end zone on fourth and 18 to pull the Bruins within 48-47.
UCLA honors Demetric Felton Jr. and Osa Odighizuwa, the only two players who will not be eligible to return in 2021, before loss to Stanford.
It wasn’t enough after Brown came up a yard short, forcing the Bruins to walk off the field in stunned silence while the Cardinal (4-2) sprinted in mad celebration.
UCLA could take no solace in the loss not costing it a bowl bid after announcing earlier in the week that it would not accept any postseason invitation.
“Days like this hurt, days like last week hurt,” Griffin said, alluding to the USC defeat. “But it’s supposed to hurt because we’re not playing to lose. We’re playing to win.”
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