Pasadena, Calif. • There were two series of critical moments in Utah's 21-14 loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. One, the more significant of the two, came sooner rather than later. The other came later.
Down 7-14 early in the third quarter, the Utes were driving to knot the numbers up, including a sweet 37-yard throw from freshman quarterback Travis Wilson to Dres Anderson. They made it to the UCLA 35-yard line before facing a fourth-and-2. Utah went for it, on a Wilson keeper that was stopped short.
"A field goal," Kyle Whittingham said afterward, "was out of the question."
The Bruins subsequently blew down the field on an impressive 14-play, 66-yard drive, finished off by a Johnathan Franklin 3-yard touchdown run that made it 21-7, UCLA.
That pretty much ended the Utes' real chances.
Thereafter, they muddled around, never seriously threatening, seemingly knowing they'd had their opportunity and couldn't take advantage.
The Utes' exasperation was the Bruins' inspiration.
There was a gasp of a hope, though, when Utah scored on an 11-play, 90-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that set up one more potential turnaround, down seven, with just more than three minutes left.
But UCLA picked up enough yardage and ran out the clock enough to punt with seconds remaining, leaving the Utes with too much ground to make up and no time to do it.
On its first key drive, the UCLA offense did what it had done for much of the afternoon, mixing short passes with runs by quarterback Brett Hundley and Franklin, keeping Utah's defense off balance.
The drive consisted of a 3-yard Franklin run, a Hundley-to-Steven Manfro pass completion, two consecutive Hundley rushes, an illegal blocking penalty, a Hundley pass, another Hundley run and two Franklin rushes, followed by two incomplete passes. Next, Hundley picked up 9 yards, before Franklin converted a huge fourth-and-1, and then punctuated the thing with two straight rushes, the last one finishing the drive the way it started with a 3-yard run that went for the difference-maker.
The Utah offense couldn't fight back.
"Offensively, it's no secret that we have to get better," Whittingham said. "You're not going to win many football games scoring one touchdown. We have to do a better job on offense."
Decisive third-quarter UCLA drive
Rushing yards • 71.
Passing yards • 10.
Total yards • 66 (after penalty)
Penalties overcome • 1
Plays • 14
Duration • 5:47