UCLA football comeback falls short at Arizona State

TEMPE, Ariz. — Wilton Speight waved his hands in the air, hurry up, the grad transfer quarterback was urging his teammates as the clock wound down on third down.

The Bruins hurried, but in the wrong way.

UCLA’s would-be game-winning drive stalled with back-to-back false starts on offensive linemen and Speight’s third-down prayer was incomplete to Devin Asiasi as the Bruins lost 31-28 to Arizona State on Saturday.

UCLA (2-8, 2-5) got within three points twice in the second half but couldn’t take the lead back as Arizona State (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) held the Bruins off each time.

Speight, who started in place of Dorian Thompson-Robinson, finished 26-of-35 passing for 335 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

The UCLA defense tallied its first three-and-out of the game on ASU’s first offensive possession in the second half and the Bruins turned the momentum into a 32-yard first-down pass from Speight to Wilson. With a blitzing linebacker coming up the middle, Speight dumped a pass off to Wilson over the middle. The tight end weaved through traffic and stiff-armed a defender. The big gain was stretched even further when ASU’s Merlin Robertson, the team’s second-leading tackler, was ejected for targeting on Speight.

The Bruins went from their own 20-yard line to ASU’s 33 in one play.

Then less than four minutes later, Arizona State was in the end zone with a 10-point lead.

Three plays after getting the Bruins into ASU territory, Speight’s third-down pass was tipped and intercepted by cornerback Chase Lucas. The Sun Devils ruthlessly ran the ball down the field with Eno Benjamin as the sophomore ripped off runs of 14, 12 and 14 yards on consecutive plays. He capped the drive off with a 1-yard run that put Arizona State up 24-14 with 8:13 left in the third.

Speight and Wilson led the Bruins a touchdown drive to answer as the duo combined for 52 of UCLA’s 75 yards on the next drive. Wilson rammed through several defender at the goal line to finish off a 33-yard touchdown pass from Speight that pulled the Bruins within three points.

An Arizona State missed field goal to open the fourth quarter gave the Bruins the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but they were forced to punt after driving into ASU territory. Stefan Flintoft’s punt rolled into the end zone. It was just a 15-yard change of field position.

Arizona State methodically salted away the next eight minutes on a 15-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard rushing touchdown from Wilkins.

After punting the ball away with a three-point deficit and 12:01 to go, the Bruins didn’t see the ball again until they were down 10 points with 3:56 on the clock.

UCLA engineered a hasty drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Speight to Wilson, but the onside kick attempt from J.J. Molson failed, despite a fortunate UCLA bounce off Benjamin’s hands before ASU recovered it.

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