Junior quarterback Josh Rosen’s return to action started out poorly for the Bruins, but UCLA football (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) rallied back from an early 14-point deficit to head into halftime down 21-20 against Arizona State (5-4, 4-2) on Saturday night.
Rosen put up a shaky stat-line, connecting on just 10 of his 25 passes for 156 yards, but helped spark UCLA’s comeback with four completions over 10 yards in the second quarter, including a 59-yard bomb to redshirt junior receiver Jordan Lasley.
Rosen was also hurt by a couple of key drops, one coming when redshirt senior wideout Eldridge Massington let a pass slip through his hands in the end zone on UCLA’s opening drive. Sophomore kicker JJ Molson would miss his subsequent field goal try, squandering the Bruins’ chance to strike first.
Arizona State opened the scoring midway through the opening quarter on a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Manny Wilkins to wideout N’Keal Harry.
The Sun Devils soon added to their lead, getting the ball back by intercepting a Rosen pass that tipped off the hand of redshirt junior tight end Austin Roberts and marching 63 yards on 12 plays for a touchdown from running back Demario Richard.
UCLA would battle its way back into the game, though, cutting into the deficit late in the first quarter thanks to junior cornerback Nate Meadors’ interception return for a touchdown and tying the game early in the second period on a one-yard rushing touchdown by Rosen.
Arizona State quickly retook the lead on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive – on which the Sun Devils ran the ball on all 10 plays – but UCLA continued to move the ball well, putting up a pair of field goals to trim the deficit to just one point.
Junior running back Bolu Olorunfunmi delivered a strong performance, toting the ball 10 times for 67 yards and adding a 23-yard reception that set up one of the Bruins’ two touchdowns.
Arizona State relentlessly attacked the porous UCLA run defense throughout the half, rushing the ball 39 times for 203 yards and throwing it just 13 times. As a result, the Sun Devils controlled the clock, racking up nearly 20 minutes of possession.