Pasadena, Calif. –The UCLA Bruins (2-0) amassed 485 yards of total offense, 265 through the air and 220 on the ground, while their defensive unit forced three turnovers on two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The Bruins came away with a 45-7 victory over Alabama State at the Rose Bowl Saturday afternoon.
Running back Zach Charbonnet did not play for undisclosed reasons, giving Keegan Jones the starting position. Starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson left early in the second quarter with an ankle injury, injecting Ethan Garbers into the game.
Keegan Jones got the party started by keeping his legs moving on a two-yard touchdown run. Garbers completed 11 of his first 12 passes. Running backs T.J. Harden, Christian Grubb, and Colson Yankoff showed some of their toughness as the Bruins relied heavily on the ground and pound game in the second half.
Harden, a freshman, ran for 56 yards and a touchdown, yielding eight yards per carry. Jones was a two-way threat, running for 33 yards and catching four passes for 31 yards.
“Being able to share the love, I think, was the best thing about today,” UCLA linebacker Bo Calvert said. “Just being able to see guys come in that aren’t able to be in the spotlight as much, to be able to see those guys make plays was awesome.”
Garbers, who entered the game under center early in the second quarter for Thompson Robinson, threw for 164 yards on 14-for-18 pass attempts. Garbers called his number twice in the red-zone rushing for two scores, both coming at the end of the second quarter.
Thompson-Robinson made his 37th career start which now ranks fourth all-time for UCLA quarterbacks, passing Tom Ramsey (1979-82). In his first quarter of play, DTR was nearly perfect on 9-for-11 passing for 101 yards.
The Hornets found some success moving the ball, gaining 310 yards of offense, but committed three costly turnovers. The Bruins defensive backs Jaylin Davies and D.J. Justice each had an pick.
Davies, a transfer from Oregon, figures to be in for some ridiculing this week after he ran back his interception 46 yards but was brought down in the open field by Keeundra Salter, Alabama State’s 305-pound offensive tackle.
“He’s got to make that cut inside,” Calvert said of his teammate with a chuckle. “That’s just one-on-one with a tackle, I mean you got to get a little bit of jukes in there.”
Alabama State quarterback Myles Crawley was 16-for-27 for 177 yards and a score in his two-and-a-half quarters of play.
The Hornets won decisively in one department — the battle of the bands. The high-stepping, dance moves and perfect choreography of the Mighty Marching Hornets got a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 33,727.
Laiatu Latu, the UCLA linebacker who runged up two sacks and forced a fumble in only his second game after a medical retirement in the spring of 2021 because of a neck injury while playing for Washington. It was great to see him back on field especially playing a game he loves.
“To bounce back from that and deal with such a serious injury, something that obviously sets your life and spins you 180 degrees, and then be able to just keep working every day and find the path, find your way and now he’s playing at UCLA and making tons of plays,” Calvert said, “. I’m so happy to see him making plays out there again.”
The Bruins’ preseason homestand continues next Saturday on Sept. 17 versus South Alabama (2-0) at 11 a.m. PT. The game will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.