UCLA’s defense dominant in 25-17 win over No. 13 Washington State

UCLA downs No. 13 Washington State in their Pac-12 home opener, 25-17.

PASADENA, Calif. — The Bruins were led by a dominate defensive performance that saw the defense force four turnovers (three interceptions and one fumble recovery) against a potent Wazzu offense.

UCLA’s defense made Cougars’ quarterback Cameron Ward look uncomfortable all day. Ward finished the game 19 of 39 for 197 yards with two interceptions thrown. 

The those interceptions were the first two interceptions Ward has thrown all season. Ward was also sacked twice.

“It starts with our effort, it starts with the guys up front – Carl [Jones, Jr.] leading that group, hunting after the quarterback and making life uncomfortable for him,” said defensive back Alex Johnson who intercepted Ward. 

Washington State came into the game with one of the better offenses in the nation so farthis season and the Bruins shut them down. The Cougars had only 12 first downs while punting the ball nine times.

“Cam Ward, everyone knows he is a good, top five quarterback. Our game plan was literally to get after him, let our front seven go,” said defensive lineman Carl Jones Jr. “For the most part, we did our job. He got frustrated a lot, and we came out with the victory.”

The offense made it tough early for the Bruins as they could only muster up 9 points in the first half. 

Quarterback Dante Moore, who finished the game 22 of 44 for 290 yards with one touchdown. Moore threw two interceptions in the first two quarter with one of them being returned for a score for the Cougars late in the second quarter. Wazzu led 10-9 at the half.

“Every time you get down in the red zone, especially being that close, at least you want to score some points,’ said Moore. “With football, especially at the collegiate level – and I’m still learning – everybody is good. If you keep making mistakes, a lot of people are going to capitalize off your mistakes, and that’s when teams start to win. In the red zone you have to score.”

The offense picked it up in the second half behind improved play by Moore but also a dominate performance by running back Carson Steele. Steele rushed 30 times for 140 yards. Punishing would-be tacklers to finish off the Cougars late.

Steele was a huge part of the run game but wasn’t alone as it was senior wide receiver Keegan Jones who helped the Bruins take the lead on the ground. Jones ran in two touchdowns in the second half and that’s all the defense needed.

“Having Keegan being able to go back and forth … being able to run the offense from a wide receiver position and a running back, it’s hard enough for me to remember all the plays. I couldn’t imagine him trying to remember all the wide receiver positions and stuff,” said Steele. “Him being able to come in and execute, it’s how we win games.”

The Bruins now prepare to face off against another ranked Pac-12 foe as they will travel to play Oregon State next week.