PASADENA– For the third year in a row, UCLA kicked off their 2023 season with a hard-fought victory. This year’s team they defeated was Coastal Carolina, 27-13 on Saturday, September 4 at the Rose Bowl. UCLA used the platoon of dual Quarterbacks, Ethan Garbers and Dante Moore to pull away in the 4th quarter as the Bruins are 1-0 behind a ferocious defense.
Garbers got the Bruins off to a great start, driving the Bruins down the field for a seven-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a 21-yard TD reception by Ryan (the first touchdown of his career). Garbers drove the Bruins down the field in his second drive (12 plays, 72 yards), but threw a costly interception in the end zone.
Enter Redshirt freshman Dante Moore, who was incredible. Moore marched the Bruins down the field on his first drive. The six-play, 61-yard drive ended with a 14-yard touchdown reception by running back Carsin Steele. The Bruins led 14-3 with 3:57 to go in the second quarter.
Garbers finished with 10-for-17 for 121 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Not to be outdone, Moore was efficient by completing 7-of-12 passes for 143 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
After their gutsy performance, the surprising number of teal sprinkled throughout the Rose Bowl proved how the program travels. Particularly in the South End Zone, UCLA felt a sigh of relief escaping the upset from their game opponent, and the loud, boisterous fans who supported the visitors.
On the ground, both sophomore T.J. Harden (11 carries) and junior Carson Steele (13 carries), rushed for 76 yards apiece. Steele also had four receptions for 20 yards and one touchdown.
The Bruins outgained the Chanticleers, 417 to 345 in total yards of offense, thanks to 153 rushing yards, compared to just 56 by Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers had the edge in passing yards, 289-264.
Redshirt sophomore J. Michael Sturdivant had five catches for 136 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Carsen Ryan had one catch for 21 yards that also went for a score.
The Bruins only ran 60 plays thanks to a 34:50 time of possession for Coastal Carolina (compared to 25:10 for UCLA). Both teams committed three turnovers. Clayton Isbell recorded three interceptions for Coastal Carolina.
Historically, it has been the Bruins offense that has guided the program to a high degree of success over the past decade, drawing the lion’s share of attention.
In 2023, so far, the Bruins defense is top notch. Defensively, the Bruins racked up 10 tackles for loss, including three sacks by senior Laiatu Latu.
Latu also forced one fumble that led to one of the Bruins’ three takeaways. Redshirt junior Gabriel Murphy also had a sack. Redshirt senior Darius Muasau had a team-high nine total tackles (seven solo) and one tackle for loss.
Next week, the Bruins will be back in action on Sept. 9 when they travel to Snapdragon Stadium to take on the San Diego State Aztecs.
Next Saturday’s matchup against the Aztecs UCLA will seek revenge against San Diego State. In 2019, San Diego State marched into the Rose Bowl and earned their first victory ever against UCLA with a 23-14 win.