PASADENA, Calif — UCLA held Oregon scoreless in the second half, as the Bruins outlasted the Ducks 31-14 from the Rose Bowl. Jim Mora’s team scored 17 unanswered points in the final 30 minutes after being tied at halftime, 14-14.
The Ducks have lost four of their last five games and have not won without Justin Herbert. This was Oregon’s third straight Pac-12 loss.
"You understand that it's going to get better," said head coach Willie Taggart after the loss. "I believe in these guys. We got to be mentally tough, mentally stronger because we don't have all our weapons."
UO dominated UCLA on the ground, rushing for 246 on 62 carries. Yet, it was a one-dimensional attack as Braxton Burmeister threw for 74 yards a week after he amassed 23 passing yards.
UCLA didn’t win the yardage battle by a great deal, 408-320, and Oregon cut down their penalties instrumentally. The Bruins were penalized more, as they were flagged seven times for a total of 67 yards. Meanwhile, UO committed just three penalties.
Oregon’s defense came out with a purpose at the Rose Bowl. Following a punt on UCLA’s first offensive possession, the Ducks had the momentum on their side.
Royce Freeman was rushing for solid chunks and Burmeister looked poised as he completed a pass to Jacob Breeland for a Duck first down. However, a Darrian Felix fumble derailed the positive start.
11 plays later, the Bruins were ahead 7-0 after a 4-yard Soso Jamabo rushing score. UCLA only needed to travel 45 yards after the turnover, as 5:31 elapsed off the clock. In total, the UCLA RB had 76 yards on 13 carries, as he led the Bruin backfield.
Christian Pabico inhaled a Josh Rosen pass, then blew through Oregon’s coverage for the easy 31-yard tally. They moved 65 yards down the field on seven plays. The Bruins entered the second quarter leading 14-0, but that’s when the game changed.
The Ducks’ true freshman quarterback led an impressive 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive to cut the deficit in half, 14-7. Burmeister punctuated the possession with a 7-yard rushing touchdown.
Oregon’s sideline and defense was motivated by the score, as the energy returned to a fever pitch. Following a UCLA punt, Burmeister once again led the Ducks on an incredible 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive to knot the game up, 14-14, with 5:16 left in the second quarter.
Burmeister has four total TD’s on the year, including three on the ground.
Midway through the third quarter, Royce Freeman made history and then some. In front of his family and friends from Imperial, the UO star shined brightest. He became just the 22nd running back in college football history to rush for 5,000 yards.
Moments later, he eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the 27th time during his legendary Duck career. With the achievement, Freeman surpassed the great LaMichael James (26) for the most 100-yard performances in program history.
With eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, Freeman passed James as Oregon’s all-time leading rusher (5,082) in program history. It is the most respected running back record at Oregon. For his incredible career, Freeman now has 5,103 rushing yards.
Additionally, Freeman placed himself in third place all-time for rushing yards in Pac-12 Conference history. He is now 16th all-time for rushing yards in college football history.
The senior workhorse finished his impressive homecoming with a game-high 160 rushing yards on 29 carries. Even with UCLA’s defense keying on No. 21, he continued to find space to operate. It truly illustrates why he accomplished what he did.
JJ Molson booted the first three points of the final 30 minutes for UCLA, 17-14.
Bo Olorunfunmi rumbled 22 yards for a 10-point Bruin lead, 24-14, with 1:39 remaining in the third. UCLA needed seven plays to journey 87 yards down the field against the Duck defense.
Following the score, Burmeister made his first turnover of the day. He was intercepted on a deep ball down the sideline by Colin Samuel. It was similar to a punt as the field position placed UCLA on their own 4-yard line, working in Oregon’s favor.
The next Duck offensive possession accumulated five yards on four plays. Taggart’s fourth-down attempt was swallowed whole by the UCLA defense, placing the Bruins’ offense on Oregon’s 44-yard line to start their next drive.
The Bruins capitalized when Darren Andrews caught a 1-yard pass from Rosen. UCLA extended their lead to 31-14 with 9:03 left in the fourth quarter. They drove 40 yards on 10 plays.
Rosen finished with 266 yards and two scores without an interception. He completed 21-of-36 attempts in a methodical approach.
Oregon’s true freshman quarterback rushed for 27 yards on 16 carries, including two scores. Burmeister completed 8-of-15 passes for 74 yards and an interception. He finished with a rating of 81.4 vs the Bruins.
Charles Nelson led the UO receivers with four catches for 40 yards. No other Duck had more than one catch.
Andrews and Theo Howard each had five receptions for UCLA. Howard had a game-high 60 receiving yards.
La’Mar Winston Jr. led the way for the Oregon defense with a team-high 11 tackles (9 solo), a sack and a tackle for loss.
Ugo Amadi finished second on the team with nine tackles, a pass deflection and a forced fumble.
Jimmie Swain amassed eight tackles (4 solo), while the season-leader Troy Dye had seven tackles (5 solo), a sack and a TFL.
Kenny Young grabbed a game-high 12 tackles (5 solo) for UCLA, including a TFL. His teammate Jaleel Wadood amassed 10 tackles, as well.
"It's a resilient group," Mora stated. "We fought through a lot."
All-American candidate Tyrell Crosby returned to the starting 11 on the offensive line. Meanwhile, senior Jake Pisarcik did not suit up after suffering a concussion last week.
We’ve seen early in the coaching career of Willie Taggart that he likes to rest a player the week after suffering a concussion.
Oregon (4-4, 1-4) returns to Autzen Stadium next Saturday for a clash with Utah (4-3, 1-3). Last season, Justin Herbert led an upset win of the No. 12 Utes in Salt Lake City, 30-28. Kickoff is slated for 2:45 p.m. PT from Eugene via the Pac-12 Network.