It wasn’t exactly one for the time capsule. But it was moderately effective and efficient. And when you are UCLA football right now, that is good enough. The previously one-win Bruins beat the Arizona Wildcats, (still winless), 27-10 Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
Neither offense was in danger of blowing out scoreboard lights. Lucas Havrisik’s 26-yard field goal for Arizona was the only scoring in the entire third quarter. But the Bruins had enough of a running game to provide all the offense they would need. Demetric Felton ran for a career high 206 yards on 32 carries to go with one touchdown. He had 133 of that in the first half. Chase Griffin, starting his second game at quarterback finished with a modest 12 of 20 for 129 yards and a touchdown. But the game was not going to be put on his shoulders. After last week’s high speed offensive show at Oregon, Bruins head coach Chip Kelly said the offense would change week to week based what the opponent was showing them on tape. This week’s scheme was decidedly about controlling the game on the ground with Felton and Brittain Brown.
The biggest stat the Bruins had was zero…..as in no turnovers.
Arizona’s offense was impacted right away. Quarterback Grant Gunnell was hit on the first play of the game by Caleb Johnson He went to the sidelines and was not seen in the game again. Backup Will Plummer went 17 of 35 for 151 yards with no touchdown passes and two interceptions. .
UCLA did its part early to give Arizona an early advantage. On fourth and one from their own 25-yard line, head coach Chip Kelly opted to go for it. Felton was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and lost three yards. With a short field to work with, Plummer needed only four plays to capitalize. Michael Wiley ran it in from three yards out and UCLA was in a hole for the third season at 7-0. That was the offensive peak for the Wildcats.
Nicholas Barr-Mira hit his first field goal attempt of the season, a 32-yarder, to get UCLA on the board at 7-3.
The Bruins outscored Arizona 17-0 in the second quarter, which was all they needed for the win. At the start of the quarter, Felton picked up an 18-yard run. Then it was three carries by Brown for a total of 17 yards. Griffin then delivered a little dump pass over the middle to Brittain out of the backfield. Brittain took it 16 yards for the touchdown and UCLA had its lasting lead at 10-3.
With offense coming at a premium for Arizona, head coach Kevin Sumlin felt the need to go for it on fourth and one at his own 44-yard line. Plummer lost a yard on the quarterback keeper and UCLA was handed great field position. Griffin completed a 23-yard pass to tight end Greg Dulcich to the Arizona 20. From there, it was all Felton. Three Felton runs got the Bruins down to the one-yard line. From there, it was Felton one more time for the touchdown and the 17-7 lead.
Barr-Mira added a 30-yard field goal just before halftime to extend the UCLA lead to 20-7.
Neither team had much of anything in terms of offense in the third quarter. The Bruins managed only 36 yards of offense in the third. Arizona found a hole in the UCLA defense by going wide to the edges more. The offense would have Plummer pitch wide to Gary Brightwell in motion. UCLA’s defense had trouble containing the edge. But while it was good for nearly 100 yards of offense, it netted only the Havrisik field goal which cut the UCLA lead to 20-10.
UCLA put the game away for good late in the fourth quarter. Plummer’s pass was intercepted by Stephan Blaylock at the Arizona 38-yard line and returned 19 yards to the Wildcats 19. It was more ground game from there. One Felton run for a dozen yards, and the Brown runs for 16 yards put the ball at the Arizona 2-yard line. It was Brown from there for the touchdown and the 27-10 final score. Arizona had one more shot to get back in the game late, but Plummer’s pass was intercepted by Elijah Gates at the Wildcats 29.
After the game, Kelly talked about Felton’s performance. “I was really happy for Felt. He has worked extremely hard since he moved to running back and has turned himself into a quality back.”
There were still the offensive lapses, by both teams in the third quarter. Kelly gave credit to Arizona for its halftime adjustments made by former UCLA assistant and current Arizona defensive coordinator Paul Rhodes. “We have a ton of respect for Paul. We expected he was going to make adjustments. And then we had to counter his counters,” Kelly said.
And then there is that big number of zero turnovers. In its two wins, UCLA has a combined one turnover. In its two losses the Bruins have a combined eight turnovers. “You’ve got a pretty good shot at winning when you are plus-two in a game. It starts with us being really clean on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Bruins are now at .500 for the second time in the Chip Kelly era. The first time was two weeks ago after the win against Cal. At 2-2, they are scheduled to pay at Arizona State next weekend, although the Sun Devils have had a couple of weeks with COVID issues and postponements.