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UCLA football enters halftime against Utah with double-digit deficit

UCLA football gave up a touchdown to Utah on each of its first four possessions, leading to a 28-10 halftime deficit for the Bruins. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin staff)

By Jon Christon

Oct. 30, 2021 9:06 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY – The Bruins have given up more than 40 points to the Utes in each of their last four matchups.

With 30 minutes played in Salt Lake City, they’re on pace to give up 56.

UCLA football (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) is heading into the locker room with a 28-10 halftime deficit against Utah (4-3, 3-1) after allowing the home team to score on its first four first-half possessions. The 28 Ute points are the most given up by the Bruins in the opening 30 minutes of a game all season.

The blue and gold entered the contest leading the Pac-12 in run defense but have already given up 146 rushing yards while allowing Utah to score three of its first four touchdowns on the ground.  

UCLA has also passed the century mark on the ground but has only scored on two of its five possessions, with redshirt freshman quarterback Ethan Garbers making his first career start in place of senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Garbers finished the first half completing 13 of his 19 passes for 76 yards.

After winning the pregame coin toss and electing to receive, the Utes drove 75 yards in fewer than four minutes to hand the Bruins an early seven-point deficit. The scoring possession marked the first opening-drive touchdown by a UCLA opponent all season.

On the next possession, Garbers began his career as a starting quarterback by completing five passes in a row to lead his team into the red zone. UCLA’s drive stalled out after an errant snap on third down by junior offensive lineman Duke Clemens, and the Bruins were forced to settle for a 28-yard field goal from redshirt sophomore kicker Nicholas Barr-Mira.  

Running back Tavion Thomas’ second rushing touchdown of the night extended the Utes’ lead to double digits on the first play of the second quarter before Garbers led his team down the field again. The redshirt freshman completed five more passes on the Bruins’ second possession of the night, and his 3-yard quarterback sneak early in the drive gave the blue and gold its second fourth-down conversion.

UCLA faced another fourth down later in the possession, and after a missed tackle by Utah behind the line of scrimmage, junior running back Zach Charbonnet ran 30 yards to paydirt in his longest run of the half.

However, the Utes again responded with their third-straight 75-yard touchdown drive – this one capped off by a four-yard touchdown pass from Utah quarterback Cameron Rising to put the home team up 21-10.

A tipped pass on the next possession hung in the air long enough for Utah linebacker Nephi Sewell to give Garbers his first interception of the night, and Thomas added to his touchdown tally shortly after with a 10-yard score. 

The Bruins would have finished the first half with a drive into Ute territory, but a missed field goal by Barr-Mira kept the deficit at 18 going into the break.

UCLA will receive the ball to start the second half.

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Jon Christon | Sports senior staff
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
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