UCLA’s bid to play in the Pacific 12 Conference title game against Stanford was derailed by Arizona State in the Rose Bowl last Saturday before 70,131 fans as the Bruins fell behind by 22 points at the half, erupted for 20 points in the second half, and were upended, 38-33.
The Sun Devils captured the Pac-12 South Division and will face the Cardinal with the winner likely to meet undefeated Ohio State in the Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day.
UCLA redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley completed 18 of 26 passes for 253 yards, but was intercepted in the opening half and sacked nine times.
Arizona State (9-2 and 7-1 in conference) gained 223 yards on the ground with quarterback Taylor Kelly accounting for a game-best 99 yards on 22 carries.
The No. 14 Bruins (8-3 and 5-2 in conference) managed 151 yards rushing with Myles Jack leading the way with 86 yards on 16 carries.
Kelly also flourished when throwing the football as he finished with 225 yards on 20 of 27 attempts and no picks and was sacked three times.
Kelly’s three-yard keeper with 12:26 left in the first quarter gave the No. 19 Sun Devils a 7-0 lead and closed a 76-yard march.
The Bruins answered on Hundley’s 42-yard strike to wide receiver Devin Lucien that tied it 16 seconds later, but the Sun Devils outscored UCLA 28-6 from that point and led 35-13 with five seconds left in the second quarter.
After Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 48-yard field goal with 3:30 showing in the initial quarter gave UCLA a 10-7 lead, Arizona State running back D.J. Foster’s three-yard romp with 32 seconds left in the same quarter made it 14-10.
When Hundley’s pass was intercepted by Carl Bradford and returned 18 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter, the Sun Devils’ lead swelled to 11 points.
Michael Eubank’s one-yard blast finalized a 12-play, 69-yard drive as 2:36 remained before the intermission that made it 28-10, and when Kelly marched the Sun Devils 62 yards and found wide receiver Jaelen Strong (91 yards on six catches) with a 19-yard toss, the Bruins trailed, 35-13.
UCLA reversed its fortunes in the second half and exploded for three touchdowns that closed the gap to five points.
The onslaught began when Jack scored on a three-yard run and 11:38 left in the third quarter that got the Bruins within 15 points.
When running back Paul Perkins (60 yards on eight carries) crossed the goal line with a one-yard burst less than four minutes later, UCLA crawled within eight points, and Hundley’s 27-yard bullet to wide receiver Shaquelle Evans (80 yards on six receptions) and 11:25 left in the final quarter, Arizona State’s lead dwindled to five points.
Ishmael Adams gave the Bruins excellent field position all game as he totaled 185 yards on five kickoff returns and 49 yards on one punt return. A 69-yard return set up Fairbairn’s 23-yard kick late in the second quarter that made it 28-13.
Fairbairn failed to hit the target on a 33-yarder and 39-yarder, but Zane Gonzalez’s 28-yard field goal with 1:07 left in the third quarter gave the Sun Devils a 38-27 edge.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.