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​​Football rebounds after early deficit, heads into halftime with lead over Tigers

Redshirt junior tight end Greg Dulcich scored one of UCLA football’s two touchdowns in the first half against No. 16 LSU, coming on a 75-yard catch and run in the second quarter. The Bruins lead the Tigers 14-10 at the break. (Anika Chakrabarti/Assistant Photo editor)

By Sam Settleman

Sept. 4, 2021 8:12 p.m.

The last time the Bruins faced an SEC opponent, they entered the halftime locker room with a four-touchdown deficit.

But that wasn’t the case Saturday.

UCLA football (1-0) leads No. 16 LSU 14-10 at the break. The two sides combined for 24 second-quarter points after blanking each other in the opening frame.

With the Bruins trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter, senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson found Greg Dulcich across the middle of the field. The redshirt junior tight end made multiple defenders miss as he sprinted down the sidelines, culminating in a 75-yard score.

The previous possession saw the Tigers open the game’s scoring with a 63-yard drive punctuated by a three-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kayshon Boutte. Quarterback Max Johnson – named as the Tigers No. 1 quarterback after starting the final two games of the 2020 season – went 4-of-5 on the drive for 45 yards.

UCLA found the end zone once again a couple of minutes after Dulcich’s touchdown reception, as the Bruins forced a three-and-out before marching 71 yards down the field in six plays for their second touchdown in as many drives. Junior running back Zach Charbonnet capped off the possession with his fourth touchdown of the season. Charbonnet accounted for 67 of the 71 yards on the drive, including a 20-yard rush and a 35-yard reception.

The blue and gold couldn’t make it three consecutive touchdown drives as Thompson-Robinson was picked off by All-American cornerback Eli Ricks late in the second quarter, marking the quarterback’s first turnover of the season.

LSU started its ensuing drive on UCLA’s 33-yard-line, but three straight incompletions from Johnson forced the Tigers to settle for a 26-yard field goal to make the score 14-10.

Despite the offensive outbursts to open the second quarter, neither team found a rhythm in the first quarter as the Bruins and Tigers combined for 103 total yards.

In UCLA’s season-opening victory over Hawai’i, Thompson-Robinson began his afternoon by overthrowing redshirt junior wide receiver Kyle Philips in the end zone. But with the Bruins’ facing a third-and-11 in their game-opening drive Saturday, Thompson-Robinson threaded a ball down the sidelines to redshirt junior Kazmeir Allen for a gain of 36 to move the chains.

While the drive stalled in Tiger territory, the teams traded defensive stands as the blue and gold countered with a third-down stop of its own courtesy of a forced fumble by senior linebacker Mitchell Agude.

After averaging 6.2 yards per carry against the Rainbow Warriors, the Bruins’ rushing attack was stymied by the Tigers in the first quarter Saturday. UCLA rushed the ball 12 times in the opening frame for a total of 15 yards. On the other side, LSU gained two yards on eight rushing attempts.

The Bruins and Tigers followed up their five scoreless drives to open the game with scores on four of the next 10 possessions heading into halftime.

LSU will receive the ball to start the second half.

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Sam Settleman | Sports editor
Settleman is currently the Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
Settleman is currently the Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
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