WSU

UCLA rallies in fourth quarter to take down No. 13 WSU 25-17

Oct 7, 2023, 4:30 PM | Updated: Oct 8, 2023, 10:41 am

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Keegan Jones of the UCLA Bruins runs for a touchdown against WSU on Oct. 7, 2023. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — WSU Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward came into the Rose Bowl ranked third in the nation in passing yards and directing one of the nation’s top offenses.

That didn’t mean much to UCLA, which handed Ward one of the most humbling games of his collegiate career.

UCLA 25, WSU 17: Box score

The Bruins forced four turnovers and pressured Ward all afternoon Saturday in a 25-17 victory over the 13th-ranked Cougars.

The junior, who averaged 347.2 passing yards and completed 74.5% of his passes in the first four games, threw his first two interceptions of the season and was 19 of 39 for 197 yards and a touchdown.

“They were the best defense we’ve faced so far this year,” Ward said. “They got after us today. They punched us in the mouth early and they punched us in the mouth the majority of the game, so we’re humbled for sure.”

UCLA (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) also sacked Ward three times, along with six QB hurries. Washington State (4-1, 1-1) went three-and-out on eight of its 16 possessions and was held to 216 total yards.

The Bruins were able to convert their four takeaways into 16 points (two touchdowns and a field goal).

“Our game plan was to get out there and let our front seven go,” UCLA defensive lineman Carl Jones Jr. said. “For the most part, we did our job. He got frustrated a lot.”

Coach Chip Kelly gave Ward his proper respect all week, but said it was a combination of the coverage on the back end and the pressure from the front seven that contributed to a total effort.

“That was the cool part about today that there were so many guys that contributed, specifically on that side,” he said. “I think that was really the story, in terms of shutting them down. I think that it was a total team defense that shut them down.”

The Bruins trailed 17-12 going into the fourth quarter until they got a pair of touchdowns from Keegan Jones. The offense ran 97 plays, including 53 rushing attempts for 225 yards.

Carson Steele had his first 100-yard game as a Bruin with 140 yards on 30 carries. Freshman quarterback Dante Moore struggled early, including a pair of first-half interceptions that led to 10 Washington State points, but finished 22 of 44 for 290 yards and a touchdown.

Two of Jones’ three carries resulted in touchdowns. The senior had a 13-yard run up the left sideline to put UCLA on top 18-17 just 92 seconds into the fourth quarter. After Oluwafemi Oladjedo picked off Ward on the first play of the ensuing drive, Jones scored four plays later from 22 yards out to make it an eight-point lead.

Washington State got to the UCLA 40 late in the fourth quarter, but Ward was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 to turn it over on downs with 1:33 remaining.

“You talk front seven, they just have waves of these guys coming in. And, I mean, they’re creatures. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. They’re big, long. They can rush the passer,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “They have aggressive schemes. I think they kept us off balance, and we couldn’t offset it enough to stay ahead of the chains.”

LONE HIGHLIGHT

The only consistent drive Washington State put together came midway through the third quarter, when it went 74 yards in four plays to regain a 17-12 lead.

Ward beat UCLA’s blitz with a 9-yard screen pass to Nakia Watson, who took it to the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the season.

MOMENTUM SWING

The Bruins appeared to be on the verge of scoring right before halftime, but Kapena Gushiken jumped up for an interception as Moore was trying to throw a flare pass to T.J. Harden and returned it 88 yards down the left sideline with 7 seconds remaining to put Washington State up 10-9 at halftime.

“I really just got the blitz call so originally I was supposed to be blitzing off the edge,” said the junior cornerback after the fourth-longest Pick-6 in Washington State history. “Came in untouched, and all that I see is just the quarterback eyeing up the flat, so I jumped and he threw it straight to me and I just took off.”

It was the second straight game Moore threw a pick—6.

EARLY LEAD

Moore lofted an 11-yard pass to Logan Loya, who caught it in the back right corner of the end zone with 11:31 remaining in the second quarter to put UCLA on top 6-3. R.J. Lopez was wide right on the extra point.

THE TAKEAWAY

WSU: Ward was only the fifth quarterback for a Power Five school since 1996 to throw for over 1,300 yards, at least 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in his team’s first four games, but opposing defenses the rest of the season will study the UCLA film to see how they neutralized him.

UCLA: The Bruins finally have a defense that can take over games for the first time in Chip Kelly’s six seasons in Westwood.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

WSU will take a tumble, while UCLA could be back in the rankings after a two-week hiatus.

UP NEXT

WSU: Hosts Arizona next Saturday.

UCLA: Travels to No. 15 Oregon State next Saturday.

WSU QB Cameron Ward proving he’s one of the best in the country

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