UCLA’s football team hasn’t won a game this season, but is getting mighty close.
The Bruins hosted No. 10 Washington at the Rose Bowl last Saturday and drew within seven points, but fell 31-24 in a Pacific 12 Conference game.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson played well in the second half as the Bruins (0-5 and 0-2 in conference) trailed 24-17 when he drove the team 90 yards on 17 plays, capping the march by hitting junior tight end Caleb Wilson with a nine-yard strike and 14:53 left in the fourth quarter.
“We know we’re right there, so that’s a good feeling,’’ said the true freshman Thompson-Robinson, who played at Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas. “I think that’s really big for us to know we’re that close to getting over the hump.’’
Wilson, who grabbed eight catches for a game-high 102 yards, was pleased with the effort, but wants better results.
“That was fun. I just want that to turn into wins,’’ said Wilson of the overall effort.
The Huskies (5-1 and 3-0 in conference) extended their lead to 31-17 when senior field general Jake Browning (18 of 26 for 265 yards and one pick) directed a 12-play, 81-yard drive that concluded when senior running back Myles Gaskin (team-high 116 yards on 27 carries) scored on a two-yard run with 3:42 left in the game.
UCLA, which last started 0-5 in 1943, rallied to make it 31-24 with 1:38 left after junior running back Joshua Kelley (game-best 125 yards on 20 carries) dotted the end zone after a two-yard burst that finalized a 75-yard, nine-play trek.
The Bruins ran for 150 yards while the Huskies (462 total net yards) had 197 yards and dominated the clock as they controlled the ball for more than 38 minutes compared to just under 22 minutes for the Bruins (422 total yards).
Browning’s 25-yard aerial to junior wide receiver Aaron Fuller (100 yards on five receptions) made it 7-0 with 1:37 left in the first.
After freshman Peyton Henry nailed a 26-yard field goal with just under 12 minutes on the clock before the half, the advantage became 10-0.
Thompson-Robinson (27 of 38 for 272 yards and one interception) then put together a 75-yard, six-play drive that ended with a nine-yard pass to junior wide receiver Theo Howard (60 yards on nine catches) as the Bruins drew within 10-7 and just under 10 minutes left in the second.
Gaskin had a one-yard tally that made it 17-7 with 4:42 left before the break and Browning (49 yards on 13 carries) tacked on a one-yard keeper with 33 seconds in the same frame that pushed the spread to 17 points.
When junior J.J. Molson drilled a 49-yard field goal and 9:46 left in the third frame, Washington’s lead was sliced to 24-10.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.