UCLA built a 24-14 lead in the first half of Saturday night’s home game against Oregon State, thanks to three unanswered first-quarter touchdowns.
Rushing scores from sophomore Bolu Olorunfunmi and freshman Jalen Starks and a special teams touchdown on a blocked punt helped UCLA recover from an early 7-0 deficit to build a 21-7 lead.
Facing one of the worst rush defenses in the nation, the Bruins employed a fairly balanced offense in the opening half.
UCLA rushed 16 times for 66 yards, and redshirt senior quarterback Mike Fafaul completed 13 of his 25 passes for 177 yards, 101 of which went to redshirt sophomore receiver Jordan Lasley.
The game started poorly for the Bruins, with sophomore running back Soso Jamabo losing a fumble on his first carry of the night.
Oregon State’s Manase Hungalu returned the fumble to the UCLA 4-yard line, and freshman running back Artavis Pierce, filling in for injured Beaver star Ryan Nall, punched in a touchdown two plays later.
But UCLA quickly responded with a seven-play, 70-yard touchdown drive keyed by a 48-yard pass from redshirt senior quarterback Mike Fafaul to redshirt sophomore receiver Jordan Lasley.
The Bruins would strike again late in the opening quarter, taking the ball 30 yards for another score after a Beaver fumble granted them good field position.
Then, after the UCLA defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, redshirt freshman linebacker DeChaun Holiday came up with a blocked punt that Lasley returned for a touchdown.
That score would hold until midway through the second quarter, when the Beavers scored on a short drive after a 39-yard trick-play punt return set them up inside the red zone.
On the return, Oregon State’s return man moved toward his right, attracting the attention of the UCLA kick coverage team, as another special-teamer caught the ball on the other side of the field and brought it back to the UCLA 16-yard line.
Three plays later, Pierce ran the ball in for his second touchdown of the day.
After a three-and-out by UCLA on the next possession, Oregon State looked like it might march down the field to tie the game, but quarterback Marcus McMaryion fumbled on a botched handoff and Bruin junior linebacker Kenny Young recovered.
The Bruins tacked on three points at the end of the half on a 49-yard field goal by freshman kicker J.J. Molson.