LOS ANGELES (AP) After missing more than five quarters with a concussion, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen needed some time to settle in.
When Rosen finally got comfortable, the junior was nearly perfect in guiding the Bruins to what could be a season-saving win.
Rosen threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Lasley on the first play of the fourth quarter and UCLA pulled away from Arizona State for a 44-37 win Saturday night.
”It felt good to be back. It took a second to get into the groove in the first half, but once we started moving, it worked well,” said Rosen, who passed Drew Olson for third place in school history in career yards passing, total offense and completions.
Rosen finished with 381 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception and also scored on a 1-yard run as the Bruins (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12) outscored the Sun Devils 10-3 in the fourth quarter.
”Rosen is a great player,” Arizona State head coach Todd Graham said. ”We didn’t sack him one time. We should have had him four or five times, but you’ve got to give him credit there. He’s going to get his yards.”
Bolu Olorunfunmi ran for 79 yards and one touchdown, Soso Jamabo had a 21-yard touchdown run, and Nate Meadors returned an interception for a touchdown to help UCLA remain undefeated at the Rose Bowl this season.
Manny Wilkins threw for 290 yards with one touchdown and one interception and also ran for a touchdown for the Sun Devils (5-5, 4-3), who had won two straight in the series. Demario Richard had 125 of Arizona State’s 294 yards rushing and a touchdown.
”Man, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t win this game,” Arizona State defensive lineman Tashon Smallwood said. ”The truth right now is we’ve said that too often this year, but the season isn’t over yet. We still have two games left, and they’re two games we plan on winning.”
Eno Benjamin returned a blocked punt 9 yards for an Arizona State touchdown to tie the game at 34 with 2:13 left in the third quarter, but UCLA responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Lasley’s touchdown. Lasley missed the previous three games for disciplinary reasons.
Rosen started the game 3-for-10 for 18 yards and UCLA’s only turnover and was 10-for-25 at the half. In the final two quarters, however, Rosen was 15-of-20 for 225 yards including the go-ahead score to Lasley.
”It probably took a little bit of time there,” UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. ”You’re talking about a huge jump.”
J.J. Molson kicked his third field goal, a 20-yarder, with 9:38 remaining to give UCLA a 44-34 lead. Arizona State got a 23-yard field goal from Brandon Ruiz with 1:20 to go, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by UCLA wide receiver Christian Pabico.
After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, UCLA started its rally when Marcus Moore tipped Wilkins’ pass into the air and Meadors took it 27 yards for a touchdown.
”I really thought that was the key play of the game,” UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. ”It looked like they had total control. When that happened, we got back in it really quick.”
Arizona State: The Sun Devils’ midseason defensive turnaround was a mirage. Arizona State seemed to have figured things out after holding Washington and Utah to 17 points combined, but has now allowed 122 points in its last three games. UCLA became the eighth team to score at least 30 points against Arizona State, and did it with a barrage of big plays despite an injury-depleted receiving corps.
UCLA: The Bruins took a big step toward bowl eligibility. Just as important, they built momentum heading into next week’s rivalry game against No. 15 Southern California. USC has locked up the Pac-12 South and a place in the conference title game, but UCLA can salvage its season by pulling off the upset at the Coliseum.
Two planes carrying banners criticizing UCLA head coach Jim Mora and athletic director Dan Guerrero flew over the Rose Bowl before the game started.
”Of course I saw them. We all saw them. It’s great to have passionate fans,” Mora said.
But Rosen was less diplomatic, making a pointed criticism about the cost of hiring the two planes.
”I thought it was absurd. Some parents of kids on our teams don’t make $30,000 a year. To put that in a banner is absurd. I mean, Coach Mora went and climbed Kilimanjaro to raise money to dig wells for people in Africa for clean water, and I think one well might have been $20,000 or something like that. It’s just absurd. It’s disrespectful. It’s disgusting. If you don’t think Coach Mora should be our coach, go talk to our AD yourself,” Rosen said.
Arizona State finished with a season-high 584 yards, one more than it had in last week’s win over Colorado, but couldn’t turn that production into points. In six trips inside the UCLA 20-yard line, Arizona State scored three touchdowns and kicked three field goals.
”We should have run the ball to the end zone every time we got in the red zone,” Graham said.
Arizona State dropped to 35-4 after leading at halftime under Graham.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils close out their road schedule at Oregon State next Saturday.
UCLA: The Bruins travel across town to play USC for the Victory Bell next Saturday.
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25