By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
When UCLA headed to Autzen Stadium in Oregon they had all the odds stacked against them. They were missing QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and nine players total including two starters because of COVID-19 protocol.
Chase Griffin got his first career start and looked like a seasoned veteran stepping up right away completing 19 of 31 passes for 198 yards with 2 interceptions connecting on his first seven passes in a 38-35 loss to the Ducks.
It was turnovers that jammed the Bruins as they had four of them turned into 28 points by the Ducks (3-0).
With the visitors leading 21-17 before the half and time enough for one play Griffin dropped back for a ‘Hail Mary‘ when his arm was hit as he threw, the ball sailed high in the air and was picked off by Jordan Happle who raced 58 yards for a touchdown give the Ducks a 24-21 halftime lead.
The young Bruins were always in the game after falling behind 14-0 as they surged back going 52 yards on 6 plays when Demetric Felton capped it off with a one-yard run.
Later in the second quarter linebacker Bo Calvert forced a CJ Verdell fumble and Qwuantrezz Knight scooped it up and ran it in from 20 yards out to tie the game at 14. It was the first UCLA score off a fumble return since 2018.
UCLA was trailing by three and marching downfield for a tying field goal when on fourth down a Griffin pass went of the hands of Kyle Phillips to end the Bruin hopes.
The Bruins grounded it out on offense as Felton rushed for 167 yards on 34 carries career highs and two touchdowns. “My O-line played their butts off today and I was super proud of them,” said Felton. “They made it easy to get five yards a carry so I am really proud of them.”
Transfer Brittan Brown rushed for 53 yards on 9 carries and had his second touchdown in as many weeks. Phillips was the leading receiver with 8 catches for 91 yards. Both are season highs for the redshirt sophomore.
The Bruins had 267 yards on the ground on the way to rolling up 462 total yards.
It also was the 7th time in the last nine games the team rushed for over 200 yards.
The defense had a very solid game only giving up 88 yards on the ground. Sophomore Carl Jones (Bakersfield high) led the team in tackles with six and he had 1.5 sacks while Osa Odighizuwa matched his sacks with 1.5.
In all the Bruin coach was really pleased with the play of Griffin. “Chase is a real student of the game and he has always been prepared” said Head coach Chip Kelly. “We really didn’t have to change much with Chase.”
BRUIN NOTES: The Bruins take on Arizona (0-2) at the Rose Bowl Saturday on Channel 11. Despite the 1-2 record the UCLA defense is ranked 19 nationally averaging just over 3 sacks per game. They are ranked 5th with 9tackles for loss per game. Odighizuwa is team leader with 5 tackles for loss. JonJon Vaughn as called for targeting in the second quarter but can play against Arizona because he sat out the first half.