Garbers did his thing. It was the UCLA defense, the only permanent stain since Kelly’s arrival that failed again.
Utah scored a touchdown on his first four drives, defeated the Bruins with a relentless running game and brought them a 44-24 defeat at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Rocks (5-3 total, Pac-12 4-1 conference) collected 290 of their 469 yards on the ground, averaging 6.6 yards per run, and won that spot at the top of the division. The Bruins (5-4, 3-3) lost away for the first time this season and wasted a second consecutive chance to become eligible for bowling for the first time under Kelly.
Garbers was impressive in his offer to help the Bruins beat Ute for the first time since 2015. He showed concentration under strong pressure and some elusive running. He made 27 of 44 passes for 265 yards with two touches and one interception.
Greg Dulcich pulled UCLA to 35-24 with 11:04, burdening Bruins ’defense, who rarely stopped to return the ball to attack.
But in UCLA’s first game of play, which started on its own six-yard line, Garbers was knocked out in the final zone by Utah’s Hauati Pututau after linear Bruins Atonio Mafi missed the block. This gave Utah a 37-24 lead and the ball back, giving Utes a running back, Tavion Thomas, a chance to do more damage. In a 24-yard touch, he broke the run down the middle and equaled the school record with his fourth quick touch.
Thompson-Robinson, who nurtured an obvious injury to his right hand while throwing, gave a hint of his pre-match status when he threw warm-up passes… with his left hand.
The Bruins were also without starting goalkeeper Caleb Johnson and right-back Alec Anderson, who missed the game for undisclosed reasons. Anderson was injured against the Oregon last weekend, but was able to return against the Ducks.
The lag at halftime UCLA 28-10 was almost entirely due to the defense bringing touchdowns on each of Utah’s first four runs, giving Utes an average of 7.9 yards per game to this point. Bruins ’best defender might be the grass surface that tripped TJ Pledger’s quarterback at the end of the 30-yard run.
Garbers started the game well, his first pass went for a 15-yard finish that Dulcich finished closely with a catch and run. The quarterback later showed some slippery moves while avoiding defenders to run for six yards on quarter and two. UCLA eventually scored first and a goal on the nine-yard line, but couldn’t get close. A third blow down, which Garbers was not prepared for, hit him in the chest and he had to fall on the ball.
Another mistake proved crucial in the second quarter when Garbers ’pass, which was tilted to the scrimmage line, flew off Dulcich and was intercepted by Utah goalkeeper Nephi Sewell and returned to UCLA 17. Ute scored two games later at Thomas’. third touch. run, this one with 10 meters.
Utah honored the late Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan between the first and second quarters by retiring the No. 22 jersey they both wore. UCLA took care of their tribute before the game, with the Bruins squeezing around the 22-yard line before leaving a bouquet of flowers.
Before the start of the fourth quarter, there was another ceremony when fans turned on the lights and illuminated the stadium during the video broadcast. Quarterback Utaha Cam Rising scored a 12-yard goal in the next game, and the UCLA defense is again powerless to stop necessarily.