UCLA staged an impossible rally from 34 points down to stun Texas A&M 45-44 on Sunday night at the Rose Bowl. Trailing 44-10 with four minutes to play in the third quarter, Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen carried his team to five consecutive touchdown drives, the final one culminating on a 10-yard scoring toss to Jordan Lasley with 43 seconds remaining.
In all, UCLA’s rally totaled 396 yards on just 37 plays while needing less than nine minutes. Rosen ended four of those drives in touchdown passes, including an impossible 42-yard strike to Darren Andrews to make the score 44-31 with 8:12 remaining that quite literally went through the hands of A&M safety Deshawn Capers-Smith.
While UCLA’s quarterback played every bit like the possible No. 1 overall draft pick he’s hyped up to be, A&M’s meltdown was made possible by playing a quarterback who proved he was not ready for the moment — even if that moment asked for simply nursing a five-touchdown lead over 19 minutes. The Aggies lost starting quarterback Nick Starkel to a foot injury in the third quarter (he later returned to the sidelines in crutches), and while his numbers (6-of-13 for 62 yards) weren’t anything that would remind you of Johnny Manziel, clearly, Starkel’s presence allowed A&M to stay on the field. With Starkel unavailable, A&M turned to true freshman Kellen Mond (3-of-17 for 27 yards, 15 rushes for 54 yards), who led the Aggies to three 3-and-outs and another punt. Mond did help lead a nine-play, 50-yard drive that ended in a field goal try, but starting kicker Daniel LaCamera was also lost to injury and Braden Mann‘s 43-yard try with 4:41 to play and A&M leading 44-31 missed.
The Aggies raced to a 38-10 halftime lead thanks to a running game that ran over, around and straight past UCLA’s hapless defense. Trayveon Williams led the way with 22 carries for 203 yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yard score and a 72-yard burst that set up another A&M touchdown. Keith Ford added 18 carries for 114 yards and three scores of his own. As a team, Texas A&M out-rushed UCLA, 382-70.
But it wasn’t enough to overcome a career night from Rosen, who hit 35-of-58 throws for a career-high 491 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Those final numbers are even more unbelievable considering Rosen hit six of his first 18 passes and ended the first half hobbling to the sideline after taking a sack on 4th-and-10.
Turns out, that was all simply a prologue to one of the greatest comebacks in UCLA history and perhaps the most costly collapse in Texas A&M annals.
The loss was Kevin Sumlin‘s first in 21 regular season non-conference games as Texas A&M’s head coach. And, considering the status he entered this season, it is undoubtedly his worst.