(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
PASADENA, Calif. — After a competitive first half that saw ASU take a 21-20 lead into the break, UCLA eked out a 44-37 win on Saturday thanks to big plays from quarterback Josh Rosen and the Bruins’ running back corps.
The Sun Devils turned the ball over on downs on their first drive of the second half, going for it on a risky 4th and 5. UCLA scored and took its first lead of the game on the ensuing drive, reaching the end zone on a 21-yard run by Soso Jamabo.
Brandon Ruiz’s 22-yard field goal brought ASU back within three. The Bruins responded, however, when a 56-yard reception by Bo Olorunfunmi turned into a 2-yard rushing touchdown for the speedy back with a unique last name. UCLA led 34-24 at that point.
A 10-0 run by ASU to end the quarter included a 22-yard field goal by Ruiz and, later, one of the biggest plays of the game for the Sun Devils. Malik Lawal blocked the UCLA punt before running back Eno Benjamin picked it up and returned it for a touchdown. Through three quarters, the game was tied 34-34.
The Bruins scored on the opening play of the fourth quarter when Rosen threw a 22-yard strike to Jordan Lasley across the middle of the field. The Bruins led 41-34 as their star quarterback swaggered to the sideline.
For ASU, the offensive swagger just wasn’t there on the ensuing drive. It took four plays before the Sun Devils punted the ball back to UCLA and allowed Rosen another opportunity.
After Rosen suffered a bloody nose on a play near the goal line, Molson tacked on a 20-yard field goal to make it a 10-point game again. ASU failed to convert on a 4th and 9 on its next drive, giving the ball back to the Bruins.
UCLA didn’t score, but a punt pinned the Sun Devils deep and forced them to go the length of the field on their next drive. ASU put together a solid drive that was highlighted by a 39-yard reception for N’Keal Harry on 4th down to keep the Sun Devils’ hopes alive.
A few plays later, Ruiz hit a 23-yard field goal to bring ASU back within seven. He was soon tasked with the onside kick to decide his team’s fate.
UCLA recovered, Rosen kneeled and the Bruins walked off the Rose Bowl field victorious. ASU falls to 5-5 with the loss and heads to Corvallis next week for a date with the Oregon State Beavers.