Sunday, 19 November 2017 16:45

Bruins Fall Short, 28-23

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Lasley J USCTo the victors, goes the bell, and for another long season, the Victory Bell will be painted in cardinal red. UCLA (5-6, 3-5) had their chances but just couldn’t quite make it happen. USC (10-2, 8-1) wins the city of Los Angels Championship 28-23.

Both teams were penalized for over 100 yards, but even though, the game was filled with action and not a fan left their seats to beat the infamous L.A. traffic until the whistle blew.

In the end of this roller coaster of a game, it was a trick special teams play in the first-quarter that made all the difference.

The Trojans faked like they were setting up to return the ball on the Bruins left side, USC junior cornerback Ajene Harris even faked a fair catch but Stefan Flintoft’s punt went to the right, where speedy wide receiver Michael Pittman made the catch and only had to beat two Bruin defenders, one of then Flintoft, while the rest of the Bruins defenders went for the fake. It was a beautifully designed play. UCLA played catch-up the rest of the way.

As before mentioned, the Bruins had their chances to win this game, but just couldn’t get the job done.

“We knew we had to play our best to have a chance to win,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora said. “They played hard and fought to the bitter end. I’m very proud of them. Unfortunately, we made some mistakes and they made some plays that prohibited us from winning.

“Obviously there were special teams issues. Not being able to convert the field goal. Certainly, the punt return where they fooled us. And the onside kick there. That was supposed to be a bloop 20 yards over. JJ (Molson) knew what he was supposed to do but hit his toe and miss-hit the ball.

“It’s nothing I’m pinning on anyone. And we didn’t protect the ball well enough and uncharacteristically of us, we did not do well in the red zone. Usually, in tight games like this it comes down to those type of variables and we were not able to get it done.

“It’s a very disappointed team in there. I commend them for their energy and effort and the way they worked all week. I expect them to bring the same effort next week at the Rose Bowl. It’s been a tough season, obviously and we’ve had to overcome tremendous (adversity) on defense in terms of personnel. They will continue to fight back and the next guy will step up.”

The loss will overshadow a strong defensive performance that held USC 3.7 yards per rush. They held the Trojans to a season-low 153 rushing yards. When you consider what other teams have been able to rack up this season that was an improvement.

Junior quarterback Josh Rosen was fabulous for most of the night. He made one huge mistake getting picked in the end zone, but that stuff is bound to happen when you throw the ball, 52 times. Rosen completed 32 of them and could have had a few more, but there were a few drops. He still threw for over 400 [421] yards for the fourth time this season, fifth time in his career and three touchdowns.

Junior receiver, Jordon Lasley, was absolutely outstanding. He had career highs in receiving yards [204] and touchdown receptions [3] in a single game.

Junior running back Soso Jamabo rushed for 62 yards and added 41 receiving yards. Sophomore receiver, Theo Howard had a career-high 11 receptions to go with 81 yards.

Now the Bruins must beat Cal Friday Evening in the Rose Bowl, where UCLA has been undefeated this season. A win against the Bears will get the Bruins bowl eligible. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST.

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