This post was updated Oct. 6 at 9:54 p.m.
UCLA just couldn’t get off the field.
Washington faced 17 third downs, but it converted 11 of them plus a fourth down. The No. 10 Huskies (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) held the ball for more than 38 minutes in their 31-24 victory over the Bruins (0-5, 0-2) on Saturday.
Coach Chip Kelly’s 0-5 start is the school’s worst record to open a season since 1943, and he didn’t register any moral victories from the slim final margin.
“I’m not a guy who takes solace in ‘We were close,’” Kelly said. “That’s not us. Close isn’t good. Close is bad.”
The score remained close despite Washington’s insistence on racking damage through its ground.
Quarterback Jake Browning, who totaled 11 running yards entering the game, picked up six first downs and a touchdown while rushing for 49 yards. Running back Myles Gaskin recorded 27 carries for the second consecutive year against UCLA and ran for 116 yards and two scores.
“(Browning’s) real smart with it,” junior linebacker Krys Barnes said. “He’s really deceiving, like he’ll look downfield and then all of a sudden he’ll just take off.”
The bigger surprise was that the Bruins’ offense outplayed the Huskies’ defense.
Washington had only allowed one passing touchdown all season – on the first drive in its season opener – and entered the game leading the country by allowing an average of 11.6 points per game.
UCLA ranked outside the top 100 nationally in pass efficiency, pass offense, rushing offense and total offense. But freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson had two passing touchdowns, and the Bruins averaged 6.5 yards per play and totaled 422 yards.
Redshirt junior running back Joshua Kelley became the first UCLA player with back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances since Paul Perkins in 2015. Kelley finished with 125 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.
“Shout out to the offensive line, tight ends,” Kelley said. “They deserve the credit, honestly. They block hard every time. Those guys come off the ball.”
Thompson-Robinson had the best performance of his fledgling career, routinely finding his open receiver and slinging fastballs through tight windows. The true freshman finished 27-of-38 for a career-high 272 yards and a first-half interception.
In the second half, Thompson-Robinson led the Bruins on a monstrous 17-play, 90-yard drive ending with a nine-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior tight end Caleb Wilson.
“For the offense I know we’re right there,” Thompson-Robinson said. “Being able to sustain long drives and stuff like that and being able to put together piece after piece is definitely something we’re trying to do. I think that’s getting done.”
Wilson recorded his best performance of the season with eight catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver Theo Howard finished with nine catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.