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Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels outshines UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson in dual-threat duel

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels warms up prior to a game against UCLA.
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels warms up before a game against UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Dorian Thompson-Robinson doesn’t need five offensive linemen to make a play.

Behind a tricky formation and just two offensive linemen, UCLA’s dynamic quarterback ran untouched for 35 yards against Arizona State, but the UCLA’s longest rushing play of the night was no match for the fireworks ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels produced.

Daniels threw touchdowns of 65 and 54 yards as the Cajon High alumnus outdueled Thompson-Robinson in a matchup between the Pac-12’s top dual-threat quarterbacks and led the Sun Devils to a 42-23 victory at the Rose Bowl.

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Thompson-Robinson led the Bruins in rushing with 96 yards on 19 carries but was sacked four times while throwing for 235 yards and one touchdown on 21-of-32 passing. He continued his slow march through the UCLA record books, moving into a tie with Tom Ramsey for fifth on the career touchdown passes list (50) and passing Ramsey for sixth in career passing yards, but left without one key stat: a victory.

Daniels, a San Bernardino native returning to Southern California, threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-19 passing. He added 45 yards on the ground on six carries.

The disappointing loss signifies a lost opportunity for the Bruins, who were trying to go 2-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2013. Instead, UCLA (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12 Conference) settles behind the Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0) in the Pac-12 South race before traveling to Arizona next week.

“They’re all important and they’re all going to be important moving forward,” Thompson-Robinson said. “That’s why we take it day by day, we take it week by week.”

Last week, Thompson-Robinson had the Bruins flying high with a win at Stanford. He saved the team on an injured right arm, throwing the game-winning touchdown to Kyle Philips. Although the injury left him grimacing in pain on the sideline during the celebration, Thompson-Robinson returned to training this week.

“I thought for where he was and how he trained all week long, he’s just a tough guy that you’ve got to give him credit,” coach Chip Kelly said. “You know he’s not 100% but he’s battling out there and I thought he played well.”

A key defensive stop by Arizona State on fourth down played a significant role in sending UCLA to a 42-23 loss that stymied the Bruins’ bid for first place.

The senior didn’t appear to be hampered by the injury Saturday and he even sacrificed his body while attempting to hurdle a defender on a run, a gamble Kelly has scolded him for trying earlier this season. During the second half, Thompson-Robinson wisely slid after scrambling, but UCLA was left chasing the game as Daniels led Arizona State’s efficient attack.

The Sun Devils ran 33 fewer plays than UCLA but had 26 more yards. ASU averaged 9.2 yards per play compared with UCLA’s 5.2.

UCLA methodically moved the ball in the first half, scoring on six of their seven drives, but was shut out completely in the second half. It was the first time the Bruins were held scoreless in the second half since 2019.

Along with a missed 47-yard field goal from Nicholas Barr-Mira and Thompson-Robinson’s failed rushing attempt on fourth-and-one from the two-yard line, UCLA was plagued by penalties. Of the team’s eight penalties, five came on offense, including a 14-yard personal foul on Atonio Mafi and a 10-yard holding penalty on Sean Rhyan. Both came on first downs, setting up long fields for the Bruins.

“When we’re in first down, we’re moving, we’re playing downhill football, but I think we played uphill football in the second half and that’s directly a result of what we did,” Kelly said. “It wasn’t what they did, it was really what we call SIWs — self-inflicted wounds — and we have to clean that up.”

UCLA’s quest to chisel out a place at the top of the Pac-12 South sustained a big setback Saturday in the Bruins’ loss to Arizona State at the Rose Bowl.


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