UCLA Downs No. 16 LSU at the Rose Bowl, 38-27
LOS ANGELES – UCLA reached the endzone on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter to take the lead for good, then created separation with a dominant fourth quarter to record a 38-27 victory over No. 16 LSU on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl in a FOX-televised contest.
The Bruins (2-0) outgained the Tigers (0-1) by more than a 4-1 margin on the ground (210-48) in the-first ever football meeting between the two schools. UCLA improved to 19-15-4 all-time against current members of the SEC, including a 6-1 mark in its last seven matchups.
UCLA received standout performances from its top two running backs on Saturday. Junior Zach Charbonnet followed up his three-touchdown debut against Hawai'i with 117 yards rushing and one touchdown on 11 carries against the Tigers. Redshirt senior Brittain Brown added 96 yards on 17 carries to go along with a touchdown of his own.
Senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson needed just 16 attempts to net 260 yards passing and three touchdowns. His performance moved him into sixth place in UCLA history for career passing touchdowns (44) and seventh place in career passing yards (5,522).
Redshirt junior tight end Greg Dulcich (3 receptions, 117 yards) and redshirt junior wide receiver Kyle Philips (2 receptions, 49 yards) added touchdown catches to lead the team's receiving corps.
On the defensive end, UCLA limited its opponent to under-50 yards rushing for a second consecutive week. Standout defensive plays included a third-down sack by senior linebacker Bo Calvert late in the first quarter and a third-quarter interception from senior linebacker Caleb Johnson.
With their lead sitting in single digits for most of the game, the Bruins scored the first two touchdowns of the fourth quarter to establish a game-high 18-point lead at 38-20.
Charbonnet and Brown teamed up to score the first of those fourth-quarter scores. On just the second play of the quarter, Charbonnet found a gap and sprinted for a 43-yard gain that got UCLA to the opposing 16-yard line. A few plays later, Brown found pay dirt with a one-yard rush to the left.
Midway through the fourth, Philips put the exclamation point on an 81-yard drive with a highlight-reel 45-yard touchdown catch, hauling in a pass from Thompson-Robinson around the 35-yard line and slipping between a pair of LSU defenders while staying inbounds near the left sideline for the score.
LSU ended up driving 73 yards for a touchdown to get within 11 with 4:08 remaining, but the Bruins stood strong the rest of the way.
The Tigers were led by quarterback Max Johnson, who recorded 330 yards in the air with three touchdowns and one interception on 26-of-46 passing. Kayshon Boutte was on the receiving end of all three passing TDs, finishing with 148 yards receiving.
After a scoreless first quarter, LSU opened the scoring on their first possession of the second quarter, capping off a 63-yard drive with a quick 3-yard strike to Boutte in the corner of the end zone.
The Bruins responded by scoring on each of their next two possessions, establishing a seven-point lead that they would never relinquish.
Just one play was needed on the first drive, with Thompson-Robinson hooking up with Dulcich for a 75-yard catch-and-run. Thompson-Robinson hit a wide-open Dulcich with a running pass that was caught at the UCLA 40, and he proceeded to shake a tackle at the opposite 35-yard line before fending off two defenders near the goal line to roll into the end zone for the game-tying score.
The Bruins went ahead on their next possession, in which Charbonnet was clearly the star. The Camarillo, Calif. native opened the drive by breaking several tackles as part of a 20-yard run, picked up 35 yards on a checkdown pass in the flat, then notched the touchdown by running 12 yards practically untouched on a draw play. Charbonnet accounted for 67-of-71 yards on the scoring drive.
An LSU field goal made it a four-point game heading into the halftime break.
The two teams traded a touchdown and field goal apiece in the third quarter – the Bruins parlayed an interception into red zone field position and a 14-yard touchdown catch from Chase Cota before LSU answered with a 44-yard TD reception from Boutte, who got some help as a referee unintentionally set a pick on the over-the-middle catch – keeping the score at a four-point margin heading into the final quarter.
UCLA, which plays its first three games of the 2021 season at home, is off next week and returns to action on Sept. 18 against Fresno State at the Rose Bowl.