UCLA Shuts Down Arizona in Second Half to Win, 34-16
The Bruin defense held Arizona to just a field goal in the second half and made big plays when it counted.
Anyone who only watched the first half of tonight’s UCLA football game against the Arizona Wildcats might have thought the Wildcats could come out of it by winning their first game in almost two years, but the Bruins finished in the second half.
The beleaguered Bruin defense showed up and held Arizona to just a field goal in the second half as the Bruins ran their way to their fourth win of the season. The win keeps UCLA in the thick of the hunt for the Pac-12 South title.
Arizona got the scoring started in this one by moving the ball 65 yards on 14 plays before stalling in the end zone and settling for a field goal.
UCLA responded by moving 75 yards on 13 plays with all but the final three yards coming on the ground and a 5-yard Arizona offsides penalty. After his first four passes were incomplete, Dorian Thompson-Robinson found Greg Dulcich in the end zone for a 3-yard TD pass.
While no one knew it at the time, that would be the only pass DTR would complete in the entire first half.
At the end of the first quarter, UCLA had a 7-3 lead.
Arizona responded to the Bruins’ touchdown with another field goal, this time from 46 yards.
Following a UCLA punt, the Wildcats looked to take the lead on their next drive. They drove the ball down to the Bruin 28-yard line again, but rather than trying another 46-yard field goal, Jedd Fisch opted to go for it on fourth-and-one, but the UCLA defense stopped Jordan McCloud and the Bruins took over on downs.
UCLA’s next drive saw the Bruins run eight times in nine plays with Zach Charbonnet gaining 25 yards on four rushes and Brittain Brown gaining 21 yards on two rushes. Meanwhile, Kazmeir Allen ran the ball down to the Wildcats’ two-yard line before Thompson-Robinson ran it in to give UCLA a 14-6 lead.
But the Wildcats didn’t show any quit yet. Jordan McCloud led Arizona on a 9-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard pass to Michael Wiley to close the gap to a point.
On UCLA’s ensuing drive, DTR threw an interception to give Arizona one last chance to take the lead before the half, but Bo Calvert prevented that by sacking McCloud on the final play of the first half.
Frankly, it was amazing that UCLA had the lead at the half, given that DTR completed as many passes to the Wildcats as he did to his teammates in the half.
The second half was all UCLA.
The Bruins got the ball to start the second half and Kazmeir Allen ran the opening kickoff back for 73 yards to the Wildcat 25-yard line. Following another Arizona offsides penalty, DTR completed his first pass of the second half to Kyle Philips for ten yards and a first and goal. With the ball on the five, the drive stalled and Chip Kelly settled for three and the Bruins were up 17-13.
But, again, the Wildcats responded. This time, it was another field goal that cut UCLA’s lead back to a point.
UCLA took over the game with another long drive that saw Thompson-Robinson complete three passes including a 22-yarder to Dulcich that gave the Bruins the ball at Arizona’s six. After a run by Brown gained two, DTR called his own number and took it in for a four-yard score and a 24-16 Bruins’ lead.
While the Wildcats were still only down by eight, the game was effectively over when Otito Ogbonnia sacked Jordan McCloud, forced a fumble by McCloud and recovered the fumble. But it was the fact that McCloud was hurt on the play that effectively ended the game because after he left the game, the Arizona offense just couldn’t do much of anything offensively.
UCLA went on to add a 48-yard touchdown run by Brown along with a late field goal for the 34-16 win.
UCLA heads to Washington next Saturday for a primetime game against the Huskies on Fox starting at 5:30 pm PT.