Tue, 05 Dec 2023

UCLA takes advantage of USC's mistakes to snap skid

Field Level Media
19 Nov 2023, 10:40 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports)

UCLA caused three Southern California turnovers, including Alex Johnson's fumble return for a touchdown, and the Bruins rolled past the host Trojans 38-20 on Saturday in Los Angeles.

UCLA (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12 Conference) came into Saturday's rivalry matchup on a two-game skid in which it scored just 10 and seven points in losses to Arizona and Arizona State. But the Bruins put up 14 points in the first quarter against Southern Cal with touchdowns on a T.J. Harden goal-line rush and Ethan Garbers' 14-yard pass to Hudson Habermehl.

The Garbers touchdown throw to Habermehl -- the first of two scoring connections between the duo on the day -- was set up when Kenny Churchwell III forced a fumble from Zachariah Branch at the Trojans' 19-yard line.

UCLA's opening scoring drive was the result of a short field set up when the Bruins defense forced a fourth-down stop near midfield on the Trojans' opening possession.

The Bruins did not have a scoring possession start on their side of the field until the third quarter, when an under-duress Garbers found Harden for a 7-yard touchdown at the end of a 65-yard drive.

The touchdown gave UCLA some breathing room after Southern Cal cut the deficit to four points before halftime on Caleb Williams' 14-yard touchdown throw to Brenden Rice and Denis Lynch's 34-yard field goal.

UCLA pushed the advantage to two possessions on Harden's 7-yard TD catch in the third quarter, then went ahead 28-10 when the Trojans' MarShawn Lloyd coughed up the fumble that Johnson returned 11 yards for a touchdown.

The scoop-and-score put an exclamation point on a standout afternoon from the Bruins defense. Devin Kirkwood intercepted Williams in the first half, while Laiatu Latu sacked Williams twice.

JonJon Vaughs and Gabriel Murphy each added another sack, and UCLA totaled nine tackles for loss.

The Bruins' effective pressure in the backfield contributed to UCLA holding USC to just 3 yards rushing. Seven came on an Austin Jones touchdown carry late in the fourth quarter.

Garbers went 18-of-31 passing for 155 yards with the three scores. Harden carried 22 times for 142 yards. Both of Habermehl's receptions went for touchdowns.

Williams finished 31 of 42 for 384 yards in the loss. Rice caught eight passes for 147 yards.

The loss was Southern Cal's first at home to an unranked opponent in Lincoln Riley's two seasons as head coach.

--Field Level Media

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