After breaking the FBS quarterback rushing record against Colorado last week, Arizona fans were eager to see what Khalil Tate would do for an encore vs. UCLA.
No records were broken against the Bruins, but Tate turned in another stellar performance, leading the Arizona Wildcats to a 47-30 win Saturday in Tucson — their first victory over UCLA in the Rich Rodriguez era.
The Bruins had won the last five matchups.
Making his first start of the season, Tate put up video-game numbers for the second straight week.
The sophomore quarterback was 9 for 13 for 148 yards and a touchdown through the air, and ran for 230 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries.
Tate ran for a 45-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game, and later ran for a 71-yard touchdown to put Arizona up 40-22 in the third quarter.
Tate also showed off his arm and patience in the pocket, tossing 53-yard and 44-yard strikes down the field to Shun Brown and Tony Ellison, respectively.
Arizona tallied 607 yards of offense, 457 of which came on the ground, taking advantage of a porous UCLA defense.
Nick Wilson, looking the best he has all season, rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Khalil Tate just ran through UCLA's entire defense for a 71-yard TD. Nothing new. pic.twitter.com/D00Un7f1d5— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) October 15, 2017
Arizona’s defense struggled in the first half, but forced four turnovers and got four sacks from freshman linebacker Kylan Wilborn, doing just enough to stave off the high-powered Bruins.
UCLA star quarterback Josh Rosen was 20 for 34 for 219 yards, but threw three interceptions.
Arizona cornerback Jace Whittaker had two of those interceptions, both of which were game-changing plays.
Whittaker picked off Rosen in the end zone in the first quarter to end a promising UCLA drive, then he returned a pass from Rosen for a touchdown in the second quarter to put Arizona up 24-7 with eight minutes left in the second quarter.
Jace Whittaker's second interception of Josh Rosen goes for 6️⃣ pic.twitter.com/3nN7AKtpF7— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) October 15, 2017
That allowed Arizona to lead 30-14 at halftime, despite being outgained 300-298 in the first two quarters.
The Bruins were never able to cut UA’s lead to single digits, as the Wildcats’ defense only surrendered 109 yards of offense in the second half.
Bo Olorunfunmi was a thorn in UA’s side, rushing for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
After an Olorunfunmi touchdown made it 40-30 with 1:04 left in the third, Wilson rushed for a five-yard touchdown to make it 47-30 with 12:25 left in the fourth.
Dane Cruikshank then picked off Rosen to seal the game.
Arizona improves to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12, putting them in good shape to make a bowl game.
A pretty remarkable statement, considering that seemed like a pipe dream after the Wildcats fell to Utah in embarrassing fashion in Week 4.
Tate’s emergence has not only turned Arizona into a dangerous team, but a fun one to watch, too.
The Wildcats have another winnable game next Saturday against the California Golden Bears in Berkeley.
Cal stomped No. 8 Washington State 37-3 this week.
First half recap
Tate picked up right where he left off in the Colorado game, scampering for a 45-yard rushing touchdown on just the fourth play of the game to give UA a 7-0 lead.
After a missed field goal attempt by UCLA, it appeared J.J. Taylor broke free for a 72-yard touchdown, but the play was overturned after it was declared that Taylor’s shin hit the ground, turning it into just a one-yard run and eventually a three-and-out.
But Arizona would get the ball right back after Wilborn forced a fumble at the UCLA 43.
After a couple first-down runs by Tate, Arizona was knocking on the door to another score, but holding on Trevor Wood stalled the drive and UA would have to settle for a 36-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
Despite a couple dropped passes, Rosen would lead the Bruins to a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, converting several times on third down (including a 32-yard pass on 3rd-and-21).
Jalen Starks capped the drive with a one-yard plunge.
Tate would answer with a 53-yard bomb to Shun Brown deep down the far sideline, and three Nick Wilson runs later the Wildcats were in the end zone, extending their lead to 17-7.
UCLA would drive all the way to Arizona 10 on the ensuing drive, but Jace Whittaker intercepted Rosen in the end zone, after the quarterback threw a floating pass across his body toward the corner of the end zone.
Whittaker would intercept Rosen on UCLA’s next drive, too, only that one went for six, putting Arizona up 24-7 — UA’s first pick six since Cam Denson’s vs. ASU in 2015.
Soso Jamambo rushed for nine-yard touchdown to cap a 12-play, 75-yard drive to make it 24-14 with 4:07 left in the second quarter.
Tate threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Wood with 11 seconds left to end the first half with Arizona up 30-14 (Pollack missed the extra point).
Arizona rushed for 217 yards in the first half, 126 of which were tallied by Tate (on just nine carries).
The Bruins did not punt in the first half. Their drives either ended via a score, missed field goal, or turnover.
UCLA was 5-7 on third down.
Second half recap
Wilborn sacked Rosen on the first play of the second half and the Bruins would punt on their opening drive for the first time in the game.
Soon after, Wilson broke a 39-yard run to the UCLA 12 where Arizona’s drive would stall, leading to a 28-yard field goal attempt by Pollack which was wide left. (It looked like there was a bad snap.)
But Wilborn would sack Rosen again, and Arizona would force another three-and-out.
A sliding grab by Tony Ellison on third down extended UA’s next drive, and Tate followed it up with a 26-yard run to the UCLA 11.
Tate overthrew a receiver in the flat on third down, so Pollack hit a 23-yard field goal to make it 33-14. Tight end Trevor Wood was the snapper for that one.
UCLA scored three plays later on three carries by Bo Olorunfunmi, then Rosen connected with Lasley for a two-point conversion, making it 33-22.
Khalil Tate responded by doing Khalil Tate things, avoiding a few defenders in the back field before running 71 yards for a touchdown.
UCLA’s offense responded again with a six-play, 65-yard drive plus a two-point conversion cut UA’s lead to 40-30 with 1:04 left in the third quarter.
Tate and Wilson would orchestra an eight-play, 75-yard drive to re-take a 47-30 lead. Tate connected on a 44-yard pass to Ellison deep down the middle of the field, and Wilson rushed for a six-yard touchdown.
Wilborn sacked Rosen on the next drive to force a UCLA punt, then sacked Rosen later in the fourth for his fourth sack.
Rosen was intercepted by Cruikshank with 5:28 left in the fourth to end any chance at a comeback.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire