UCLA Downs Alabama State, 45-7
PASADENA, Calif. – It was a day for career firsts as the UCLA football team scored 31 unanswered points to walk away with a 45-7 victory over Alabama State at the Rose Bowl Saturday afternoon.
Running backs Christian Grubb and T.J. Harden and quarterback Ethan Garbers each recorded their first career rushing touchdowns while tight end Hudson Habermehl caught his first receiving touchdown. Defensively, corner backs Jaylin Davies and D.J. Justice picked their first career interceptions.
The Bruins (2-0) totaled 485 yards of total offense, 265 through the air and 220 on the ground, while UCLA's defensive unit forced three turnovers on two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Alabama State (2-1) quarterback Myles Crawley was 16-for-27 for 177 yards and a touchdown in his two-and-a-half quarters of play.
Garbers, who entered the game under center at the top of the second quarter for Dorian Thompson-Robinson, threw for 164 yards on 14-for-18 pass attempts. Garbers called his number twice at the goal line for two rushing scores, both coming at the end of the second quarter.
Thompson-Robinson made his 37th career start which now ranks fourth all-time for UCLA quarterbacks, passing Tom Ramsey (1979-82). In his first quarter of action, DTR was nearly flawless on 9-for-11 passing for 101 yards.
Thompson-Robinson opened the Bruins' first drive of the game 4-for-4 on completions, the last of which was a 21-yard connection to Kazmeir Allen over the middle. Allen spun past a would-be tackler and ran down the left sideline to put UCLA in the redzone.
Redshirt junior Keegan Jones finished the six-play, 68-yard drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown, his first of the season.
Linebacker Laiatu Latu put the ball right back in his offense's hands with his first career forced fumble that was recovered by linebacker Grayson Murphy. Starting on the Alabama State 15, Thompson-Robinson found Habermehl across the middle for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
UCLA scored on five of its six drives in the first half as Garbers and Thompson-Robinson were a collective 20-for-23 for 249 yards and responsible for three touchdowns.
Garbers followed up Thompson-Robinson's act in the first quarter by going 11-for-12 on completions with 148 yards in the second. Today's contest marked the first 100-plus-yard passing performance for Garbers since his first UCLA-career start against Utah a season ago.
A roughing the passer penalty on third down by the Hornets on their own 14-yard line brought the Bruins to first and goal. One play later, Garbers followed his blockers and barreled into the endzone to cap the 11-play, 70-yard sequence with his first rushing touchdown of the day, 21-7.
Murphy put an end to the Hornet's next drive with a sack for a 10-yard loss. Garbers set up UCLA's next scoring drive with a 26-yard pass to running back Carsen Ryan on a post route to put the Bruins on the Alabama State three-yard line.
Jones was limited to two rushing yards the next two plays as the Bruins came up short one yard of the goal line and opted for the field goal unit. Kicker Nicholas Barr-Mira's 19-yard field goal was good, 24-7.
Garbers closed the half with another 20-yard completion to Ryan to put UCLA two yards away from pay dirt. This time, Garbers waltzed in for his second rushing touchdown to send the Bruins into the locker room with a 24-point advantage, 31-7.
Ryan led the team with 58 receiving yards on three catches.
Nine separate Bruins recorded at least one reception, and six had at least 30 receiving yards.
UCLA opened the second half running the ball at will. Six of the Bruins' eight plays on their 70-yard, 2:33 drive were rushes by Colson Yankoff and Harden for 31 yards and 35 yards, respectively. Harden capped the drive with a 13-yard rush down the sideline, sprinting in untouched for six points.
UCLA put the ball in the hands of Grubb four times on his first career drive for its final scoring possession in the fourth quarter. On his first rush, Grubb scarfed up 21 yards, his second eight more yards, and after a loss on the next play, rushed for seven and scored his first touchdown, 45-7.
The Bruins' preseason homestand continues next Saturday on Sept. 17 versus South Alabama (2-0) at 11 a.m. PT. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.