UCLA Football Blows Out Bowling Green, Overcomes Shaky Start

The Bruins had a laundry list of miscues take center stage in the first quarter, but Dorian Thompson-Robinson and their other playmakers were able to erase the early deficit.

Coming into the contest as 23.5-point favorites, the Bruins certainly didn’t play like it right off the bat.

A blocked punt, muffed punt, interception and turnover on downs had UCLA football (1-0) facing a 17-7 deficit in the second quarter, and the only reason they weren’t being shut out was a broken play-turned-68-yard touchdown run by quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Bowling Green’s (0-1) early-game dominance wore off as the matchup went on, though, and the Bruins ran away with a 45-17 victory.

But for a good chunk of the first half, the few fans who were in the Rose Bowl bleachers showered their own team with boos, clearly unsatisfied with the product they were sitting through in 100-degree heat. The official announced attendance was a record-low 27,143, but there were surely fewer who actually made it out to Pasadena.

The sparse crowd got on its feet for Thompson-Robinson’s long sprint to the end zone, and was inversely unenthusiastic when he threw an interception over the middle the very next drive. The first drive of the day ended with Nicholas Barr-Mira’s first career punt getting blocked and scooped up for a touchdown, and a key delay of game penalty at the goal line cost the Bruins four points a few minutes later.

Duke transfer receiver Jake Bobo muffed a punt, returning to the game after getting injured on his first attempt as a returner, and that gifted Bowling Green a field goal. After Thompson-Robinson’s pass was swatted away on fourth down, the Falcons marched the length of the field and got into the end zone on a 22-yard slip screen.

It didn’t take UCLA long to flip the script, though, and it was all Bruins from there.

Bowling Green was held to four consecutive 3-and-outs, and their offense accounted for 0 yards on the 15 plays immediately following their touchdown. UCLA scored 31 unanswered on the other side of the ball, taking their first lead of the day after a 20-yard touchdown catch by receiver Kazmeir Allen and a 52-yard touchdown grab by running back Keegan Jones.

Running back Zach Charbonnet found the end zone on the first drive of the second half, putting the Bruins up by 14. The offense stalled for a bit, but got back on track when Thompson-Robinson rolled out to his right for an 8-yard touchdown.

Thompson-Robinson ended the day with 298 yards and two touchdowns through the air on 32-of-43 passing, while also adding another 76 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Charbonnet racked up 111 yards on 21 carries while Allen led the way with 85 receiving yards, 10 catches and 13 targets.

Even quarterback-turned-receiver Josiah Norwood – a redshirt senior who finally earned a scholarship earlier in the week – got in on the action, taking a short pass from Ethan Garbers 50 yards to the house.

The Bruins’ offense racked up 626 yards of total offense, tied for their most since the wild Washington State comeback in 2019.

Safety Stephan Blaylock and defensive end Grayson Murphy each had key sacks to help the defense keep things under control down the stretch, while linebacker Darius Muasau racked up four tackles and recovered a fumble that would have gone for a touchdown if not for a late block-in-the-back call on defensive end Laiatu Latu.

UCLA held Bowling Green to 162 yards, only 64 of which came after the Falcons’ lone touchdown drive early in the second quarter. Six punts, a fumble and a turnover on downs were the end results of their meaningful drives in that span, as Bowling Green ran out of steam in the blazing-hot sun.

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