UCLA Blows 18-point Lead, Loses to Southern Cal, 43-38
The Bruins were outscored 33-10 after they scored the first TD of the second half.
UCLA played great tonight — for three quarters. Then, the team folded like a deck of cards in the fourth quarter as Southern California scored touchdowns on three of four possessions to beat the Bruins, 43-38.
UCLA started off well by scoring the games first two touchdowns. The first one was a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Ethan Fernea and the second was a 21-yard pass from Thompson-Robinson to Demetric Felton.
Southern Cal rebounded with a 65-yard touchdown pass from Kedon Slovis to Drake London and a 42-yard field goal by Parker Lewis.
But the Bruins weren’t quite done yet in the half. DTR found Felton again for a 12-yard TD with just 20 seconds left in the half and UCLA led 21-10 at the break.
UCLA got the ball first in the second half and the Bruins immediately capitalized with a 7-play, 75-yard drive which was capped by a 15-yard touchdown run by Brittain Brown, giving UCLA a 28-10 lead. Southern Cal responded with a similar drive of their own which ended when Slovis found Tyler Vaughns for a 38-yard touchdown.
Then, things really began to unravel.
On the Bruins’ next drive, UCLA faced a 4th down and 4 situation and sent out the punt team. Luke Akers was lined up to punt, but started to run the ball and he ended up fumbling. Southern Cal recovered on the Bruin 31. What this play was supposed to be still isn’t quite sure. Was it a designed run? Did Luke Akers sense pressure and decide to take off? We may never know, but it was downright ugly and, more importantly, it gave Southern Cal a short field which led to another Trojan touchdown pass from Slovis. This time, it was to Amon-Ra St. Brown for a three-yard TD. At least, the Bruins still led, 28-23.
UCLA scored once more before the end of the third quarter when DTR hit Greg Dulcich on a 69-yard touchdown pass to put the Bruins ahead 35-23 and the game was looking like it might be over.
Then, the fourth quarter happened.
Southern Cal finished up the third quarter and started the fourth with an 11-play, 75-yard drive leading to a 10-yard Vavae Malepeai touchdown run, closing the gap to 35-30, Bruins.
Four plays later, Thompson-Robinson tried to scramble and made an ill-timed throw right into the hands of Talanoa Hufanga who intercepted. While he returned it to the Bruin 15, the run was called back due to an illegal block, giving Southern Cal the ball on the UCLA 30. On 3rd down and 10 from the 19, the Bruins literally handed the Trojans a first down with consecutive offsides penalties by Caleb Johnson and Carl Jones. So, Slovis threw a 9-yard pass to London to put the Trojans ahead 36-35.
With 8:09 left in the game, UCLA did an effective job burning the clock. The only problem is that the drive failed to score. It sputtered around the Southern Cal 37 and, on fourth and one, Keegan Jones was unable to gain the needed yardage to keep the drive alive.
Thankfully, the Bruin defense held when needed there and forced a three and out and allowing the UCLA offense to drive 51 yards before sputtering out again on 3rd and 2 from the Southern Cal 25. Nicolas Barr-Mira nailed 43-yard field goal to put the Bruins ahead again 38-36 with 52 seconds left.
Everywhere across the country Bruin fans started to think the game was won, but Chip Kelly and Jerry Azzinaro are still the team’s brain trust. It took the Trojans just two plays to find the end zone again when Slovis hit St. Brown on an 8-yard touchdown pass to put Southern Cal up 43-38 and leaving UCLA with just 16 seconds to move 75 yards.
UCLA moved 33 yards to the Southern Cal 42 in just two plays, but it also left just two seconds on the clock. Dorian Thompson-Robinson managed to evade the Southern Cal pass rush to heave the ball downfield into the end zone, but his pass fell incomplete and allowing the Trojans to take the Victory Bell back to their campus for another year.