PULLMAN, Wash. –– It was a tale of two quarters for the Bruins in the first half.
UCLA football (0-3) took an early lead Saturday night, but it now trails No. 19 Washington State (3-0) 35-17 heading into halftime. The Bruins led 10-7 after the first quarter and held the lead for 9:44 – longer than they had all season – in the half.
The lone second-quarter score for the Bruins came on a 100-yard kickoff-return touchdown by redshirt junior wide receiver Demetric Felton. A sideline referee ran into a UCLA coach on the sideline during the play, but the touchdown stood and the Bruins closed the gap to four points.
That four-point deficit was a three-point lead 11:51 earlier.
Redshirt senior linebacker Josh Woods picked off Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon on the first set of downs of the game. UCLA capitalized on a turnover for the first time in 2019 and capped off the 29-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to redshirt senior running back Joshua Kelley in open space.
The Cougars answered with a touchdown of their own, but Thompson-Robinson led a 13-play, 62-yard drive to put the Bruins back up 10-7. The sophomore hit redshirt junior tight end Devin Asiasi for 15 and 11 yards earlier in the drive, but missed him on 3rd-and-5 in the red zone.
The offense was forced to settle for a 31-yard field goal by senior kicker JJ Molson.
After the defense held strong on a fourth down attempt by the Cougars’ offense, the Bruins forced their second turnover of the night. They ended up punting on the ensuing possession, however, and Washington State scored a touchdown on the first drive of the second quarter.
After UCLA punted again, the Washington State offense marched 54 yards in under a minute and it was knocking on the door again. Junior cornerback Darnay Holmes picked off Gordon on a dropped pass, stopping the Cougars dead in their tracks.
One play later, however, Thompson-Robinson threw his first pick of the night. The sophomore tried throwing across his body over the middle while on the move and the Cougars returned it to the UCLA 14.
Washington State covered the rest of the ground in two plays, going up 21-10 on Gordon’s third score of the night.
Felton’s return temporarily brought the Bruins back within striking distance, but back-to-back touchdowns by the Cougars stretched the deficit to 18.
Gordon threw five touchdowns in the first half, two more than Heisman-contender Jalen Hurts had in the entirety of UCLA’s 48-14 loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 14.
The Bruins had led for a total of 7:13 all season, but they were ahead for 8:44 in the first half Saturday night. With the gap sitting at 18, however, the Cougars are in control.