SALT LAKE CITY, UT– UCLA Quarterback Dante Moore had a rude awakening in his PAC-12 debut, throwing an interception returned for a touchdown on the opening play of the game in the No. 22 Bruins 14-7 loss to the No.11 Utah Utes on Saturday, September 23 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Just 12 seconds in, and Utah Linebacker Karene Reid had a pick six, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
It was a defensive slugfest, as the Bruins and Utes both wreaked havoc on the respective offenses. Moore had been sacked seven times and lost a fumble under relentless Utah pressure that forced him to repeatedly peel his body off the turf Saturday afternoon at a rollicking college environment.
“I can put this loss on me for sure,” Moore said after the No. 22 Bruins’ 14-7 loss to the No. 11 Utes. “I know me being so young, not many people would say that, but I’ll put this loss on me for sure and we’ve just got to bounce back from it.”
The Utes’ early seven-point edge gave them a lead they would never give back, although the Bruins trimmed the lead to 14 to 7 late in the game.
UCLA’s defense was phenomenal. Only allowing seven points, UCLA Linebacker Kain Medrano forced a fumble and made two of his team’s four sacks, helping the Bruins hold the two-time defending Pac-12 champions to 219 yards and one offensive touchdown.
Moore created some late drama when he drove the Bruins 91 yards in nine plays, erasing the possibility of their first shutout loss since the infamous 50-0 setback against USC in 2011.
Making one big play after another, Moore converted a fourth down before connecting with Josiah Norwood on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 3 minutes 39 seconds left to cut his team’s deficit in half.
UCLA’s defense once again rose to the occasion, getting a quick stop, receiving one final opportunity to even the score. The offense got the ball back at its own 18-yard line with 3:14 remaining in the game.
Moore was sacked on the next two plays, backing up his team to the three-yard line. A third down catch set up one final play.
Unfortunately, the relentless Utah defense converged around him for the final sack. Kelly said his team often used its maximum protection package in an effort to shield Moore from the pressure.
“The total offense was an issue, so we need to get that straightened out at every level,” Kelly said after his team generated a season-low 243 yards. At some point, it was expected that coach Kelly would insert another quarterback to give it a try. But none was forthcoming.
UCLA averaged just 0.3 yards per carry, largely as a result of all the sacks, while churning out nine yards on the ground.
Showing signs of life in the 4th quarter, but by then it was too little too late. UCLA falls to (3-1) on the season, and will fall out of the top 25 after the painful loss.
UCLA looks to rebound after a bye week, they will host the Washington State Cougars on Saturday, October 7 at the Rose Bowl.