(News4usonline) – UCLA got more than it could handle against Coastal Carolina. In their first game of the season, the Bruins struggled through the first three quarters to punch in the football for more than the 14 points they were limited to. At the end of three quarters, the Bruins were clearly in a dogfight with the Chanticleers, holding just a 14-13 lead.
After getting scores in the first and second quarters, the Bruins went blank in the third period. The Bruins’ one-point advantage from halftime that they managed to keep going into the fourth was because of freshman quarterback Dante Moore completing the first of his two touchdown passes on the night.
Moore would save the Bruins from enduring an upset at the hands of the Chanticleers, unloading a 62-yard touchdown pass to J. Michael Sturdivant to help UCLA extend its lead to eight points in the eight points.
“Yeah, it’s something that we have had the opportunity to see because he did it there in the spring and he did it during preseason camp,” UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said about Moore’s throw to Sturdivant. “It was just a heck of a play by him – it was an off-schedule play. He got flushed from the pocket, but he does a great job of keeping his eyes down the field. We work on scramble drills a lot.
“And for J. Mike to take it deep and for Dante to have his eyes up, that’s a special quality with quarterbacks,” Kelly added. “Sometimes with quarterbacks, when they get flushed, their eyes go down and they’re looking – are they going to get hit and who are they running away from? But the special ones keep their eyes up, and big plays can happen and that was a huge play for him at a point in time where we needed it. I was really pleased with him on that.”
UCLA then got two field goals in the period to clinch a 27-13 win against Coastal Carolina at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 2, 2023.
“I think that selfishly, to be honest with you, you’d like to win games like this because there were a lot of things that you can correct,” Kelly said. “There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds that I think were on us, that weren’t from the opponent, that we can iron out. They will make us better as a football team.”
Kelly continued, “But the one thing that we talk about is that competitors respond, and I think the way that we responded in the second half, with Dante and J.Mike hooking up there where our offense didn’t have a lot good things going for a couple of stretches – but for them to hook up on that drive, for our defense to go on the field and John Humphrey to have an interception, I think that was a really good answer. That’s what competitors do – they respond.”
Both Moore and UCLA’s other quarterback Ethan Garbers responded to the challenge by playing efficient football. Garbers completed 10 of 17 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. He also threw a couple of interceptions in his first game of the 2023 college football season. Moore was just as impressive, completing 7 of 12 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the Bruins’ win.
Moore talked about hitting Sturdivant on that big-play touchdown throw.
“When we had that drive, when I rolled out, J.Mike (J.Michael Sturdivant) is a 10.3 100-meter dash runner and seeing him open in the field and raising his hands, I had to give him the ball because I know he’s a playmaker, and you’ve got to give playmakers the ball … It was a good drive, it was many good drives, and I’m glad we got a team win,” Moore said.
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.