TUCSON, Ariz. – The Wildcats scored 16 of the game’s final 23 points and held UCLA to just 10 second-half points, but fell short against the 16th-ranked Bruins, 31-26, in front of 51,531 fans at Arizona Stadium on Homecoming.
For the 12th-straight game, Ka’Deem Carey rushed for over 100 yards, picking up 149 yards on the ground including a four-yard, second-quarter touchdown run, his 40th career rushing score.
The Wildcats trailed by 14 points early at one point in the second half, but two B.J. Denker to Nate Phillips touchdown hookups kept the Cats close and gave the Wildcats a pair of chances to take the lead late. UA began drives with 6:06 and 2:33 remaining in the fourth quarter trailing by five points; the drives would end in a three-and-out and an interception, respectively.
Denker completed 20 of 33 pass attempts for 186 yards and recording two passing touchdowns. Phillips led the Wildcats in receiving with eight catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
Arizona recorded a season-high four sacks. Junior Tra’Mayne Bondurant led the Arizona defense with 10 total tackles. Seniors Sione Tuihalamaka and Tevin Hood accounted for two forced fumbles, one of which the Wildcats recovered.
It was all UCLA in the first quarter as the Bruins scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game to go up 14-3. UCLA’s defense contained Arizona to only a field goal, while quarterback Brett Hundley passed and rushed for a touchdown.
The Wildcats scored the game’s first points with a field goal to take a 3-0 lead. After receiving to start the game, Arizona’s offense drove 48 yards down the field for senior Jake Smith to kick a 44 yard field goal.
UCLA wasted no time and responded immediately with a touchdown in its next drive. On the Bruins’ first play of the game, Hundley aired out a deep pass to Shaquelle Evans for a 66-yard touchdown to take a 7-3 lead.
The Bruins extended their lead to 14-3 after getting the ball back when Arizona’s offense failed to convert a fourth-down attempt on UCLA’s 16-yard line. Hundley capped a 12-play, 84-yard Bruins’ drive with a 14-yard touchdown scramble.
Arizona cut the Bruins lead to 14-10 in the second quarter after Carey powered into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown. The touchdown was Carey’s 11th of the season. Arizona’s drive started on the UCLA 25-yard line after the Bruins failed to convert a fake punt attempt on fourth down.
With 16 seconds remaining in the half, Hundley found Evans for a touchdown once again on a four-yard strike to give the Bruins a 21-10 lead at intermission. Hundley and running back Damien Thigpen led the UCLA offense to cover 90 yards in 16 plays.
Both teams recorded field goals and turned the ball over once in the third quarter as UCLA led Arizona, 24-13 after the third.
The Bruins started the second half with the ball and tacked on three more points to their lead as kicker Kaim Fairbarn notched a 34-yard field goal to cap off an 11-play, 59-yard drive.
Following UCLA’s field goal, Arizona threatened to score a touchdown as the UA offense marched 78 yards down the field on 11 plays. However, UCLA’s defense forced Carey to fumble as he dove into the end zone, resulting in a UCLA touchback.
Smith recorded his second field goal of the game, cutting UCLA’s lead to 24-13. The field goal came after senior Tevin Hood stripped UCLA’s Thigpen of the ball, allowing Arizona’s offense to drive 48 yards and kick a field goal.
Denker threw a 15 yard touchdown pass to Phillips to trail UCLA, 24-19, early in the fourth quarter. After UCLA punted to start the fourth quarter, Arizona handed the ball off to Carey six times as the Tucson native rushed 61 yards on the drive, helping the Cats reach UCLA territory. Senior Daniel Jenkins added seven more yards setting up Denker’s 15-yard scoring toss to freshman Phillips.
Arizona’s five point deficit was short-lived as UCLA linebacker Jack Myles came on offense for UCLA and on his sixth carry of the game, Myles exploded for a 66-yard rushing touchdown for UCLA to regain a two touchdown lead. Myles, a true freshman who started the game on defense, led the Bruins with 120 yards on just six carries, an average of 20 yards a tout, including the 66-yard score.
However, it took only three minutes for Arizona to march back down to the red zone and score a touchdown to cut UCLA’s lead back to one score. Denker connected with the freshman Phillips for a second touchdown, cutting UCLA’s lead back to one score.
After a pair of defensive stops, UA’s offense would receive two cracks at taking the lead. The Wildcat offense would sputter and fail to pick up a first down on either of the possessions. The comeback bid fell short when Denker’s fourth-down pass was intercepted by Ishmael Adams with 1:57 remaining in the game.
The Wildcatsreturn to action next Saturday, Nov. 16, against Washington State at 12 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. The game will air on Pac-12 Networks.