PASADENA, Calif. (AP)Zach Charbonnet had three rushing touchdowns for the second time this season, Dorian Thompson-Robinson racked up 356 yards of total offense and UCLA became bowl eligible for the first time in four years with a 44-20 victory over Colorado on Saturday night.
Charbonnet had all of his scores in the second half as the Bruins rallied from a 20-7 second-quarter deficit with 37 straight points. UCLA (6-4, 4-3) is the fifth team from the Pac-12 to become bowl eligible. It is also the first time they will play in a bowl in Chip Kelly’s four-year tenure.
”Like I said at the beginning of the week, we still have stuff to play for and obviously the bowl game was one of them. So now we can check that off the list, but the work’s not done,” said Thompson-Robinson, whose 23-yard keeper midway through the third quarter put the Bruins on top for good at 23-20.
Nicholas Barr-Mira’s 40-yard field goal on the last play of the first half got UCLA within 10 at halftime before it scored touchdowns on four straight drives and added another on Kyle Philips’ 82-yard punt return to make it 44-20 in the fourth quarter.
”We felt confident when we were in at halftime. There weren’t a lot of adjustments,” Kelly said. ”We just had to play our game and I think all three phases really played their game in the second half.”
It is the second time this season Charbonnet has had three touchdowns. The junior, who finished with 67 yards on 17 carries, scored from 2 yards out on the opening drive of the third quarter to get the Bruins within 20-16.
After Thompson-Robinson’s score, Charbonnet ended the next two drives with TDs.
Thompson-Robinson missed the Oct. 30 game against Utah due to a thumb injury, but bounced back with one of his best games of the season. The junior completed 18 of 27 passes for 257 yards and an interception as well as rushing for a season-high 99 yards.
”I was pretty (ticked) and frustrated at halftime. We had some penalties in the first half and I obviously wasn’t playing my best,” he said. ”We knew we had to pick each other up.”
Colorado’s Alex Fontenot had two 1-yard touchdowns in the first half, and Jarek Broussard rushed for 108 yards. Broussard, the reigning Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, has rushed for over 100 yards in back-to-back games.
Colorado (3-7, 2-5) had 242 yards in the first half, its most in the first 30 minutes this season, but were held to 117 in the third and fourth quarters.
The Buffaloes crossed midfield only twice in their seven second-half drives. Their best scoring chance came with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Cole Becker was wide right on a 43-yard field goal attempt.
”Man, that was an unfortunate performance,” coach Karl Dorrell said ”We try to approach it as a 0-0 game and to come out with a blank slate to win the second half, and that’s where we didn’t get the job executed the way we thought we would.”
Freshman QB Brendon Lewis was 17 of 26 for 168 yards.
Colorado: The Buffaloes are guaranteed a losing season for the ninth time since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, which is disappointing after they went 4-2 during last year’s shortened season and made the Alamo Bowl.
”We got some seasons to ruin still, if we want to. I know Washington’s having a poor season, but Utah, we can affect them in a big way, that’s motivation,” tight end Brady Russell said. ”It’s big, going out with some dignity, so I know we don’t want to go out like we did today for the rest of the season. That’s embarrassing.”
UCLA: The offense had a season-high 502 yards, including 245 rushing. The Bruins are 6-0 when they rush for at least 200 yards. The five rushing TDs also are the most by the Bruins since 2016 against UNLV.
Colorado: Hosts Washington next Saturday.
UCLA: Travels to crosstown rival Southern California next Saturday.
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