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ASU football's defense not enough against No. 12 UCLA Saturday

The Sun Devils fell 50-36 to the Bruins, allowing 402 rushing yards, the most for UCLA in over a decade


Redshirt junior tight end Messiah Swinson (80) receives the ball in the first quarter to score a touchdown in the Sun Devils' home matchup against the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. ASU lost 50-36.

The Sun Devils started Saturday's game hot with an interception on the first play, followed by a field goal from freshman kicker Carter Brown, but their efforts were halted by a strong Bruin force that rushed, rushed, and rushed some more. ASU ultimately fell 50-36 against No. 12 UCLA in Tempe. 

The Sun Devils were an 11-point underdog going into the weekend matchup. The team — scoring 18 consecutive points, coming within one touchdown of what could have been a show-stopping comeback with just six minutes left — just couldn't keep up with the UCLA offense. 

ASU allowed 402 rushing yards, even with UCLA's senior star leading running back Zach Charbonnet watching the game from the sidelines. UCLA's redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson dominated Sun Devil Stadium, completing 13 of 20 passes for 169 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

Sun Devil redshirt junior quarterback Trenton Bourguet completed 38 of his 49 passes for 349 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Bourguet's Saturday start and in the matchup against Colorado, when he threw for 435 passing yards, are the two highest passing results for ASU this season. 

READ MORE: Quarterback Trenton Bourguet's hot start outshining strong defensive performances

The student section, electric in maroon, kept its supportive energy consistent in the first half as the Sun Devils intercepted the Bruins' first play and scored a field goal in the opening quarter. Both teams' offensive plays kept the ball moving, the Bruins more effective, leading 14-10 at the end of the first quarter.

But Thompson-Robinson showed his athleticism early, hurdling twice in the first half and avoiding Sun Devil defenders as he led the Bruins to score 28 unanswered points in the second quarter. A 91-yard and 90-yard drive ending in touchdowns expanded the UCLA lead to 28-10 going into halftime.

ASU never capitalized on its own sacks on UCLA's long drives in the first half, setting a precedent for what was to come in the second. UCLA had 181 total yards in the second quarter, compared to ASU's 49 and 119 in the first.

Saturday night was ASU's family weekend, interim head coach Shaun Aguano standing next to the word "Ohana" painted on ASU's side of the field for the entire game calling plays. At the helm of the team for six games now, Aguano has emphasized the team's only way forward after its coaching change was together. 

"I take all the blame for not preparing us defensively and offensively for this game. It's not on them. It's on me," Aguano said in the postgame press conference. "I want to make sure everybody understands that. We'll get it fixed."

The crowd thinned after the half as Thompson-Robinson scored a four-yard rushing touchdown five minutes into the third, taking the Bruin lead to 35-10. 

The following scoring drive was on the back of Sun Devil redshirt sophomore wide receiver Elijhah Badger's one-handed catch from Bourguet that put the score at 35-18, Bruins. 

Bruin redshirt junior wide receiver Kazmeir Allen responded with a speedy 75-yard rushing touchdown on just one play. Allen totaled 137 rushing yards during the game, a career-high for the UCLA player. 

Late in the third, ASU managed an attempt at closing the gap, as graduate student running back Xazavian Valladay ran for one touchdown, bringing the score to 42-25, Bruins. Valladay ran for another touchdown in the fourth, making it a one-score game, 42-36, Bruins.

UCLA's late touchdown completed by redshirt junior wide receiver Colson Yankoff closed the game in the Bruins' favor with a final score of 50-36.

"I thought we came back and made adjustments and fought all the way to the end," Bourguet said in the postgame press conference. "In the end, it wasn't enough. But there's a lot to build off of."

The Sun Devils travel to Pullman, Washington, to take on the Washington State Cougars next Saturday, Nov. 19, at 1:30 p.m. MST. ASU sits at 3-6 and will not qualify for a bowl game unless the team wins out. 

"We'll be ready," Aguano said. "And when I say ready, I'm going to make sure that the coaches are prepared and preparing the kids to be successful."

Edited by David Rodish and Walker Smith.

Reach the reporter at and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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Piper HansenDigital Editor-in-Chief

Piper Hansen is the digital editor-in-chief at The State Press, overseeing all digital content. Joining SP in Spring 2020, she has covered student government, housing and COVID-19. She has previously written about state politics for The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Capitol Times and covers social justice for Cronkite News.

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