San Diego State slams UCLA football, handing it first loss in almost 100 years
Senior linebacker Krys Barnes (right) led UCLA football with 11 tackles in the team’s eventual 23-14 loss to San Diego State on Saturday. Barnes also picked up his second career sack and broke the 150 career tackle threshold. (Tanmay Shankar/Assistant Photo editor)
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By Joy Hong
Sept. 7, 2019 5:08 p.m.
This post was updated Sept. 7 at 6:04 p.m.
In 22 meetings dating back to 1922, the Bruins hadn’t lost a game to the Aztecs.
Nearly a century later, that no longer holds true.
UCLA football (0-2) fell 23-14 to San Diego State (2-0) Saturday afternoon in the Bruins’ second straight loss of the season. The Bruins have now dropped their home opener in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1989 and 1990 seasons.
“It doesn’t matter if we lost to them before or lost to them now,” said coach Chip Kelly. “It hurts when you lose to Cincinnati, it hurts when you lose to San Diego State, so the fact that you hadn’t lost to them before means absolutely nothing.”
Sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson – who completed his first five passes of the game and 10 of his 15 first-half attempts, was strip sacked by linebacker Kyahva Tezino just 1:24 into the second half. SDSU quarterback Ryan Agnew completed a 34-yard pass to wide receiver Kobe Smith on the second play of the ensuing drive to put the Aztecs up 17-7.
The Bruins had some answers, but not enough.
Thompson-Robinson found redshirt freshman tight end Greg Dulcich in the endzone for Dulcich’s first career touchdown. The 14-play, 75-yard drive that included a 24-yard reception by redshirt freshman wide receiver Kyle Philips, cut the Bruins’ deficit to 17-14 with 8:12 to go in the third quarter.
UCLA forced back-to-back incomplete passes on the following SDSU drive, but the Bruins surrendered a field goal to put the Aztecs back up by six heading into the final period.
Redshirt sophomore cornerback Elijah Gates – who was called for three penalties in the game – allowed a back shoulder fade that helped the Aztecs get in range for their third field goal of the day, bringing their lead to nine. The Bruins were without junior cornerback Darney Holmes for a second straight game due to injury.
UCLA got on the board first with a five-yard carry from redshirt senior Joshua Kelley – who sat out against Cincinnati in week one. Thompson-Robinson completed passes to junior wide receiver Jaylen Erwin for 18 yards and Dulcich for 13 yards to set up Kelley for the touchdown.
Kelley – who averaged 5.5 yards per carry during the 2018 season – averaged just 3.5 yards per carry on 15 attempts in his season debut, putting the blame on his own shoulders.
“I have to get the first down,” Kelley said. “So that’s all me. The offensive line, they fought their butts off the whole game. I just have to get the first down and give ourselves the chance and not put the defense back on the field.”
After giving up a touchdown and a field goal, the Bruins had the opportunity to tie the game with a field goal midway through the second quarter, but senior kicker JJ Molson’s 45-yard attempt bounced off the left upright. UCLA trailed 10-7 at the break.
Despite the Bruins’ run defense allowing just 1.7 yards per carry, Agnew – who completed just 16 of his 30 passes in his season debut against Weber State – finished 23-of-31 for 293 yards on the game, including a stretch in which he completed six consecutive passes in the first half. Agnew recorded career-highs in both passing yards and completions.
“I would say his success came on poor defensive alignment. So it was more on us,” said junior safety Quentin Lake. “Obviously in the back end, we didn’t do so well, so it showed that he could play.”
Senior linebacker Krys Barnes finished one off his career-high with 11 tackles while also recording one sack and three tackles for loss. Redshirt junior defensive end Osa Odighizuwa was the only other Bruin with double-digit tackles, picking up 10 to go along with one sack and three tackles for loss.
“I see what (the players) see,” Kelly said. “We made too many mistakes to win a football game today and we certainly understand that. It’s on us to correct them. It’s not on us to tell them what to say or what to think or how to act. It’s on us to make the corrections and play better as a football team.”