UCLA football fell to Washington State 27-21 on Saturday night, as a 21-point second half wasn’t enough to dig the Bruins out of the hole they dug themselves during a scoreless first half.
With sophomore starting quarterback Josh Rosen sidelined by an injury, backup Mike Fafaul played as well as anyone could have expected, completing 24 of his 40 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns against the Cougars, but the Bruins couldn’t pull off the road upset in Pullman, Washington.
Fafaul, a redshirt senior, produced all three of the UCLA’s touchdowns in the second half, finding senior wide receiver Darren Andrews for two and junior wide receiver Jordan Lasley for another. Andrews led the Bruins with eight catches for 116 yards, marking the 15th straight game he has recorded multiple receptions.
The defense allowed more than 24 points in regulation for the first time this season, but it was a strong effort against an opponent that entered the night averaging 43.8 points a game.
Cougar quarterback Luke Falk, the nation’s leader in completion percentage entering the game, went 28-of-48 for 261 yards with no touchdowns and an interception for a quarterback rating of 99.8, his lowest of the season. Falk was also kept out of the end zone for the first time in 22 games, with all three of the Washington State touchdowns coming on the ground.
Washington State took a 10-0 lead into halftime, notching a field goal in the first quarter by taking advantage of beneficial field position provided by a poor kick from UCLA punter Austin Kent that went for negative net yardage and then producing an 18-play, 91-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter.
The UCLA offense managed just 16 rushing yards on 17 carries in the first half, and Fafaul went 6-of-12 for 84 yards in the first half.
After coming out of the locker room, Fafaul quickly threw an interception on the Bruins’ first second-half possession, but then he started to up his play, completing 18 of his 28 passes in the second half.
The UCLA defense quickly negated Fafaul’s interception by recovering a Falk fumble, and Fafaul threw a touchdown to Andrews on his next pass.
Washington State responded by churning out two touchdown drives, of 61 yards and 57 yards, respectively, by the end of the third quarter to take a 24-7 lead into the final period.
Fafaul engineered a 15-play touchdown drive to cut into the lead, throwing 13 times and completing eight for 64 of the drive’s 75 yards.
After Washington State ate up six-and-a-half minutes while working towards a field goal, Fafaul once again led a touchdown drive, this time completing five of six passes for 63 yards and hooking up with Andrews for a score to put the Bruins down six with three minutes left on the clock.
UCLA would turn the ball over on its next two possessions, however, with Lasley fumbling and Fafaul throwing an interception on the Bruins’ final desperation drive.