The good news is, junior quarterback Josh Rosen’s absence wasn’t a huge factor in the first half of UCLA’s game against Utah.
His backup, redshirt freshman Devon Modster, completed all seven of his passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, but a costly fumble turnover on special teams and two long, grinding drives by the Utes to end the second quarter led to a 17-10 Bruin deficit at halftime.
Utah motored down the field for a 10-play, 73-yard touchdown drive to go up 14-3, but Modster led the Bruins 75 yards in five plays to bring the visitors within 4 points.
Sophomore receiver Theo Howard made a lunging one-handed catch down the right sideline to set UCLA up in enemy territory, and Modster lobbed a touchdown pass to redshirt senior receiver Darren Andrews on the following play.
The two teams traded punts on the first four drives of the game, but senior punt returner Mossi Johnson fumbled a punt, giving Utah possession inside the red zone. Four plays later, Utah running back Zack Moss punched in a 3-yard touchdown run, springing the Utes into a lead for the rest of the half.
UCLA’s defense held Utah to 44 yards on its first 17 plays, but the Utes finished the half with 141 yards on their final 18 plays.
On the other side of the ball, the Bruins ran for 77 yards on 14 carries, as offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch opened the game with four consecutive rushes.
Fisch also reached into his bag of trick plays, calling a reverse, a double reverse and a double pass in the first half. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Dymond Lee – a former high school quarterback – tossed the ball back to Modster, but UCLA only gained 1 yard on the play.
Andrews leads all Bruin wideouts with 66 receiving yards on three catches, while junior running back Bolu Olorunfunmi has a team-high 50 rushing yards on eight carries.