Ben Sauls set a Sun Bowl record by going 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts, including the game-winning, 47-yard attempt with four seconds remaining to elevate Pitt to a 37-35 win over No. 18 UCLA on Friday in El Paso, Texas.
Pitt (9-4) scored 20 straight points in the second half, rallying from down 28-14 after Jaylin Davies’ 52-yard pick-6 in the third quarter for UCLA (9-4), to pull ahead 34-28.
But after a failed fourth-down conversion attempt with a little more than two minutes remaining, the Panthers gave up a 70-yard drive, resulting in the Bruins’ lone offensive touchdown of the second half.
T.J. Harden, filling in for Pac-12 Conference-leading rusher Zach Charbonnet as UCLA’s primary ball-carrier, capped a 111-yard day with a go-ahead 8-yard score with 34 seconds remaining. The touchdown marked the culmination of a drive in which Harden also broke free for a 34-yard gain.
Quarterback Ethan Garbers — who stepped in after Bruins standout Dorian Thompson-Robinson left the game in the second half, the result of an unspecified injury — completed passes of 12 yards to Titus Mokiao-Atimalala and 14 yards to Jake Bobo on the possession.
With no timeouts remaining, Pitt drove 46 yards in 30 seconds.
Quarterback Nick Patti connected on passes of 18 yards to Jared Wayne, then 17 yards to Bub Means on a spectacular catch that nearly hit the turf. Patti then evaded tacklers — any of which would have ended the game with the Panthers unable to call timeout — to rush 11 yards and stop the clock with a first down.
That gave Pitt time to send out Sauls for his fifth and most significant kick of the day.
Patti went 20-of-41 for 232 yards in the win, which gave Pitt consecutive seasons of nine-plus wins for the first time since 2008-2009. Tylar Wiltz had a key performance for the Panthers’ defense with a sack and an interception.
UCLA fell short of matching its program-best mark of 10 wins. Kam Brown caught four passes for 115 yards in the loss, while Mokiao-Atimalala and Logan Loya were on the receiving end of Thompson-Robinson’s two touchdown throws.
Thompson-Robinson had 262 yards passing and scored a rushing touchdown but threw three interceptions before his exit.
–Field Level Media