UCLA wins rivalry game against the Trojans

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The USC Trojans football team is trending in the wrong direction after their 62-33 loss at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. After their homecoming win against Arizona, the Trojans have now dropped games against the Bruins and Arizona State.

Before USC had even gathered their collective breaths, the Trojans were down 28-10 at one point in the second quarter. The Bruins hit the Trojans with 609 total yards and 30 first downs in the win.

After jumping out to an 18-point lead in the first half, UCLA saw its large lead dwindle to nine in the third quarter before exploding to score 20 points in the fourth period to leave no doubt of who was the better team on this day. 

“They capitalized on a lot of mistakes that we made today and we didn’t capitalize on the mistakes they made,” USC interim head coach Donte Williams said after the game. “We came out and got two turnovers in the first quarter but got no points out of it. The kickoff return to the house in the second half, just different things like that, that every time momentum swung in our way, they did things to all of a sudden swing it back in theirs. You can’t win a football game when you give away 600 yards on offense, I don’t care who you play.”

November 20, 2021. USC running back Vave Malepeai (6) celebrates after scoring on a three-yard touchdown run against the UCLA Bruins. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

The lopsided defeat to their crosstown rivals was a hard one to swallow and marked a resurgence in the Bruins as they seek to restore their own program’s respectability. The Bruins are 7-4 and with only Cal left on their schedule, have an opportunity to go prime bowl game hunting.

The Trojans, on the other hand, are hoping to end their season on a winning note against Cal and BYU. But at the moment, the Trojans were simply outmatched and found themselves being outplayed by their Pac-12 Conference antagonists. The biggest perpetrator contributing to the Trojans’ woes was UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

After throwing two interceptions early in the first quarter and looking every bit raggedy, Thompson-Robinson caught fire and lit up the Trojans’ secondary for 349 yards and four touchdowns. Thompson-Robinson also rushed for 55 yards in the Bruins’ seventh win of the season.

“He’s a special player and I’ve said it since the beginning and I love the kid,” UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s tough as they come both mentally and physically. That was just on display today.”     

After he threw his second pick in the afternoon, Kelly said he reminded his quarterback to be calm. 

“We talked to him in the game about not flinching. We knew that we were going to get their best shot. I think this is a really resilient group. The game of football, I said it a long time ago, it’s not perfect. It’s a game of resiliency. And I think that was on display today with this group.”

November 20, 2021. UCLA defenders hone in to tackle USC running back Keaontay Ingram (28). Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

City pride was on the line in this game. Thompson-Robinson talked about what the win against USC means. 

“Oh man it means everything,” Thompson-Robinson said. “They had our tails the last few times we played and so to really hang it upon them this time and to really get that win out on their field is really something special.”

It was not a special day for the Trojans. There would be no elation. However, the Trojans did have some standout moments of their own in the annual rivalry game against the Bruins. For one, quarterback Jason Dart played pretty well in his first start, completing 27 of 42 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown.

The only blemishes on Dart’s otherwise great performance were the two passes that landed in UCLA defenders’ hands for interceptions. As far as evaluating his first start, Dart was more concerned about the final outcome than his own individual performance.    

November 20, 2021. UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet (24) rushes for 174 yards in the Bruins’ 62-33 win against the USC Trojans. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“I look at the result and I feel like I missed a lot,” Dart said. “I wasn’t able to do enough to come out with the win, but I’m going to make the adjustments I need to so we can come back and come out victorious in the next one. Honestly, I felt like I didn’t make too many like bad reads. I feel like I could see the field pretty well, I just missed some things here and there.” 

Asked what he thought about the impact of the loss in the rivalry game, Dart had this to say:

“I’ll just say, we’re definitely disappointed,” Dart remarked. “This was a game that we had highlighted on our schedule, and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but what happened is what happened and we have to move on.”

A lot of attention will be paid to Zach Charbonnet and his 174 rushing yards for the Bruins and the 249 yards UCLA accumulated on the ground, but USC had an effective running game as well. Led by Keaontay Ingram’s 99 yards and Vave Malepeai’s three touchdowns, the Trojans rushed for 191 yards.

Gary Bryant Jr. was another pleasant surprise for the Trojans, coming up with nine catches for 161 yards and a touchdown on his resume.  And yet with all of the superlatives Williams and the Trojans were able to come up with, it was not enough to beat the Bruins. 

“Obviously it hurts,” USC defensive back Chris Steele said. “Same as any game. At the end of the day, we have two more opportunities and I just look forward to capitalizing on those. I can’t hang my head down low because of the loss because it’s just one football game. I’ve just got to keep my head up and keep going.”