After struggling all day on offense, WSU (4-1, 1-1 in Pac-12) couldn’t convert a key 4th and 1 with less than two minutes to go, to seal the victory for UCLA (4-1, 1-1). The offense could never find its rhythm, getting just 216 total yards and 12 rushing yards while being outgained by the Bruins by 266 yards.
WSU’s first drive of the day stalled on three plays, but an early interception on UCLA first drive from Sam Lockett gave the Cougs great field position to open the game despite the initial three and out.
While the Cougs would have to settle for a 32-yard field goal from Dean Janikowski, the Bruins ensuing drive wouldn’t go much better. While going a lengthy 15 plays, R.J. Lopez couldn’t knock home the 47-yard field goal to cap it off with points leaving the Bruins empty-handed again.
The Cougs took advantage of the short-field, driving all the way to the UCLA 15, and even the Bruins 8-yard line on a screen pass to Cameron Johnson, but he had the ball ripped out of his hands by UCLA’s Jordan Anderson for a red zone turnover. Although the Bruins couldn’t capitalize on that drive, WSU handed the Bruins another chance with a second fumble from Carlos Hernandez, UCLA capitalized with a touchdown drive to take a 6-3 lead after failing to put the PAT through the uprights.
Neither team could find any sort of offensive rhythm throughout the second quarter. WSU’s offense unfortunately ran into another big mistake when Cam Ward threw his first interception of the season into the arms of UCLA’s Alex Johnson. Despite a personal foul that started UCLA at their own 35, the Bruins still converted the turnover into points to take a 9-3 lead.
With time winding down before half, WSU again could not get anything going on offense and would have to punt the ball to UCLA. The Bruins took full advantage and drove right back into the red zone. Just under 20 seconds remained before the teams would break for half and UCLA felt full in control. Not only were they likely to take points into the locker room, but they would go in knowing they’d get the ball to begin the second half. That’s when Kapena Gushiken turned the entire game around with an 88-yard pick six to instead give WSU the lead before half.
Halftime adjustments didn’t seem to matter for either offensive room as neither team could get much going. UCLA scored the first points on a field goal a little over mid-way through the third quarter. WSU’s offense respond quickly with a 39-yard catch and run from Isaiah Hamilton to put the Cougs inside the Bruin 20 and into the end zone three plays later with a Nakia Watson receiving touchdown.
Despite a blocked field goal on the following Bruin drive, WSU’s offense stalled with a three and out, and the Bruins scored a go-ahead touchdown to open the fourth quarter. Ward threw his second interception of the game, and season, to open the next drive which resulted in another UCLA touchdown. Still trailing by only eight, the Cougar defense held firm in keeping the game within a possession for the Cougar offense.
WSU’s offense got one last chance to send the game into overtime with over four minutes remaining at their own 27 yard line. After converting a third and short, a nine yard sack on Ward put WSU’s offense into a hole that they nearly climbed out of. The Cougs grabbed 18 yards on their next two plays to set up a 4th and 1 at the UCLA 40 to decide the game with 1:39 to go. A yard would keep WSU’s undefeated season alive. The Bruin defense was able to wrap up Ward on a run play to turn the ball over on downs and seal the victory for UCLA.
WSU will look to get back on track against the Arizona Wildcats next week.