Bruin Rally Falls Short in 40-37 Loss to Fresno State
LOS ANGELES – No. 13 UCLA football dropped a late-game thriller to Fresno State, 40-37, at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
Redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson connected with redshirt junior Kyle Philips for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the second capturing the lead for the Bruins (2-1) with 54 seconds remaining. On the next drive, Bulldog quarterback Jake Haener led his offense downfield to the game-winning touchdown: a 13-yard completion to Jalen Cropper.
Haener – the nation's passing leader – had 455 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
After falling behind 23-10 entering the second half, the Bruin defense flipped the Bulldog (3-1) passing attack on its head with two fumbles in the fourth quarter to give UCLA a chance to pull out the victory. UCLA trailed Fresno State, 26-17, with 9:23 remaining in the fourth quarter when linebacker Carl Jones, Jr. stripped Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener for a fumble that was recovered 43 yards down field by lineman Datona Jackson.
Three plays later, Thompson-Robinson unleashed a 42-yard heave to Kyle Philips for a touchdown to bring the Bruins within two points at 26-24. Philips finished the game with seven completions for 113 yards. Thompson-Robinson ended the night with three touchdowns – the seventh time in his career finishing with that total. It was also the second game in his career in which he recorded multiple passing touchdowns with no interceptions.
On the next play from scrimmage, defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight muscled the football out of a Bulldog receiver's arms and linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath promptly carried it 19 yards to the Fresno State 18. Junior running back Zach Charbonnet bounced his way into the endzone for his second touchdown of the night – his sixth through three games – to give the Bruins their first lead since the first quarter.
Thompson-Robinson's first touchdown pass of the game, set up by a 3rd and long completion to Kyle Philips, was a connection on a crossing route to redshirt sophomore receiver Kam Brown came on UCLA's opening drive of the second half.
UCLA had two costly fumbles in the third quarter. Thompson-Robinson had the ball slip out of his hands in UCLA territory, and after forcing a turnover on downs later in the period, senior receiver Chase Cota fumbled a 45-yard completion with the endzone in sight.
The Bulldogs dominated the time of possession in the first half with 49 plays compared to the Bruins' 16 and 17 first downs compared UCLA's 3.
Fresno State's Ronnie Rivers pounded a one-yard rush over the UCLA goal line to score the game's first points, capping a 10-play drive, 55-yard drive. The Bulldogs failed on their two-point conversion attempt.
Thompson-Robinson responded on his very next play from scrimmage with a 38-yard connection to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kam Brown, putting the Bruins at Fresno State's. Four rushes later, Charbonnet barreled through a defender and into the endzone to give UCLA the lead.
The Bulldogs orchestrated another methodical, 14-play drive that lasted roughly seven minutes on their next possession, resulting in a one-yard touchdown rush by Jalen Cropper to recapture the lead.
Redshirt junior Kazmeir Allen tapped into his sprinter instincts when he returned Fresno State's kickoff downfield before eventually being tripped up at the Bulldog 26. The drive resulted in a 39-yard field goal by redshirt sophomore Nicholas Barr-Mira.
Fresno State scored twice more before halftime to extend its lead to 13. The first score was a 36-yard rush for Rivers' second touchdown of the game, and the second a 21-yard field goal by Abraham Montano.
UCLA will travel to Stanford for both its first road and Pac-12 contest of the season next week on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. PT.