Paul Perkins and No. 10 UCLA remain undefeated with a victory over No. 19 BYU, but it didn’t come easy.
After looking to be in serious trouble for the duration, No. 10 UCLA was able to pull out a 24-23 victory over No. 19 BYU on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl and end the Cougars’ magical start to the season.
UCLA got off to about the worst start imaginable. After a quick three-and-out, leading tackler Kenny Young was ejected for targeting and BYU marched down the field behind running back Adam Hine.
The Cougars than surprised everyone with a recovered onside kick and looked poised to go up two scored. Fortunately for the Bruins, Aaron Wallace came up with a huge sack to force a BYU punt.
Both defenses would dictate play for the remainder of the first half. Paul Perkins uncorked a pair of 44 yard runs on consecutive UCLA drives, but the Bruins were only able to get three points as a result.
The Cougars added a field goal midway through the second quarter after safety Harvey Langi recorded his second interception. After cruising through the first two games, UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen looked rattled early, going 5-15 for 52 yards and three interceptions yards in the first half.
Both team were finally able to get things going offensively early in the second half. After BYU’s opening drive stalled, Devin Fuller set up the Bruins with a huge punt return and Perkins punched it in from 5 yards to knot the score at 10. Hine and quarterback Tanner Magnum responded immediately with an impressive drive, capped off by a 14 yard touchdown pass to Mitch Matthews.
Hine continued to pace the Cougars’ offense to set up another field goal and make it a two-score game. However, Perkins broke free for another big 33 yard run, leading to a 19 yard touchdown pass from Rosen to Jordan Payton.
Mangum converted four clutch third down passes on BYU’s next drive to help the Cougars to another field goal. The Cougars defense had a chance to win the game on the following possesion, but the Bruins took their first lead of the game with a three yard touchdown run from backup running back Nate Starks, who entered the game so Perkins could get a breather.
That brief lead would prove to be the difference. Mangum lead the Cougars to midfield before Myles Jack capped off the victory with an interception on fourth down.
Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA. Perkins continued his productive season with 219 rushing yards, leading a UCLA offense that struggled for much of the game
Adam Hine, RB, BYU. 149 yard performance on the ground provided balance to a BYU offense that was one-dimensional the first two weeks
Devin Fuller, KR/PR, UCLA. Provided strong field position to the UCLA offense throughout, and huge punt return in third quarter was a major turning point.
"#19 BYU gets on the board first! The game is live on FS2 and FOX Sports GO. #BYUvsUCLA https://t.co/MdatJXMa8H— FS1 (@FS1) September 20, 2015"
"Great route by Mitch Mathews! BYU takes the lead, 17-10. #BYUvsUCLA https://t.co/9tqVPBlwZY — FS1 (@FS1) September 20, 2015"
"Josh Rosen hits Jordan Payton for the score! #19 BYU leads #10 UCLA 20-17 in the 4th quarter. #BYUvsUCLA https://t.co/ExNRs3JesA— FS1 (@FS1) September 20, 2015"
"No doubt about it. Nate Starks’ game-winning TD run is our #12Best Moment for #BYUvsUCLA: http://t.co/1dV8R7uZ6W— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) September 20, 2015"
UCLA entered as a huge 16.5 point favorite and was unable to cover the spread.
The Cougars’ difficult schedule continues with a trip to the Big House to face Michigan on Saturday. UCLA will have a chance to rise further up the rankings when it opens conference play in the desert with a road contest against No. 20 Arizona.