PASADENA—Against a gray sky, with their season hanging in the balance, the gutty little Bruins gave it a great try, but fell to the 10th ranked Oregon Ducks, 34-31. UCLA trailed by 17 points entering the fourth quarter when their offense mounted a furious rally to pull within three with under three minutes remaining. However, a DJ James interception secured the victory for the Ducks against the UCLA Bruins, effectively eliminating them from the Pac-12 championship on a chilly Saturday, October 23 at the Rose Bowl.
Homecoming weekend for UCLA was capped off by this thrilling, heartbreaking loss. Oregon running back Travis Dye made FBS history becoming the first player to score touchdowns on four consecutive carries.
Oregon took away the Bruins most lethal weapon; their running game. The lethal duo of Bruins running backs Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown were stuffed at the line of scrimmage the entire afternoon by a stout running defense.
Led by defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, a one man wrecking crew, who was seemingly everywhere accounted for two sacks and nine tackles. Thibodeaux hails from Los Angeles and is projected to be the no .1 player chosen in the 2022 NFL Draft.
UCLA drops to (5-3, 3-2 PAC-12) with the loss. Early in the game, the Bruins jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Ducks. Oregon answered by scoring on their next five possessions, as the Ducks cling onto the slim hope of reaching the College Football Playoff at a mark of (6-1, 3-1 PAC-12).
Penalties and Oregon’s potent running attack cost the Bruins a victory. Interceptions by Bruins Quentin Lake and cornerback Devin Kirkwood were negated by offside penalties. Oregon opportunistically capitalized on these Bruin blunders by punching the pigskin into the end zone.
Lake’s pick was extremely controversial, as it seemed he never jumped offside before picking off the pass. Nonetheless, the Bruins held a 17-14 advantage at halftime.
As seen in the past several times this season, the Bruins lost the battle of the second half. UCLA has lost three games in a row at the Rose Bowl.
Ducks Quarterback Anthony Brown was effective with both his arm and his legs completing 29 of 39 passes for 296 yards. In addition, Brown rushed for 85 yards including a 43-yard TD scamper extending the Ducks’ lead to 34-17.
UCLA refused to go down without a fight. First, QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson scored on a nifty spin move for a 2-yard keeper. Caleb Johnson than intercepted an Oregon pass which led to a Brittain Brown 1-yard touchdown.
Down by only three, another Bruins interception in the end zone courtesy of Jay Shaw gave the Bruins one final shot with three minutes left.
“I’ve known this group for a long time, they’re an unbelievably resilient team. That was a game in itself during the fourth quarter,” said UCLA head coach Chip Kelly.
On the final drive, Thompson-Robinson was knocked out of the game by Thibodeaux and replaced by backup Ethan Garbers. With the Bruins driving for a game winning touchdown, or at the very least a field goal, Garbers forced a ball into tight coverage that was intercepted and ended the game. The last UCLA play from scrimmage was on the Ducks 39-yard line. So close, but yet so far. Fitting for a season that held such promise.