PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Ryan Agnew wanted to be a part of San Diego State history on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. The senior quarterback accomplished that by leading the Aztecs to their first victory over UCLA.
Agnew completed 23 of 31 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown in a 23-14 win. It is San Diego State’s fifth victory over a Pac-12 team since 2016, but it was 0-21-1 against the Bruins coming into the game.
”It’s big coming here because we never won,” Agnew said. ”We came out prepared, we were excited, we were happy. We got to play in a monumental stadium in the Rose Bowl. Offense, defense and special teams brought it. It was a good team win.”
Matt Araiza kicked three field goals and Kobe Smith had seven receptions for 131 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the third quarter that gave San Diego State (2-0) a 17-7 advantage.
Besides the play of Agnew, the Aztecs won by controlling the ball and taking advantage of turnovers. They had a nearly 17-minute edge in time of possession and scored 10 points off a pair of UCLA turnovers.
”San Diego State beating UCLA, if it had been two or three times, I would say it wouldn’t be unusual. But since it was the 23rd meeting and finally winning one that kind of makes it a special day,” coach Rocky Long said.
While it is a big win for Aztecs, things can’t get much worse for UCLA and coach Chip Kelly. The Bruins have lost 11 of the 14 games Kelly has been at the helm.
Kelly is 0-5 in nonconference games as Bruins’ coach, with four of the defeats coming to Group of Five teams.
”I thought there were opportunities to make plays and we didn’t,” he said. ”It hurts when you lose to San Diego State, so the fact that we hadn’t lost to them before means absolutely nothing. We weren’t here before. We lost to them now. It means it hurts.”
The game was tied at 7 with four minutes remaining in the first quarter when Tariq Thompson recovered a Mike Martinez fumble at the SDSU 45. The Aztecs were able to drive to the UCLA 26 before Araiza made a 43-yard field goal.
Two plays after Kyahva Tezino sacked UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson to cause a fumble, which was recovered by Caden McDonald, San Diego State extended its lead to 17-7 with 12:50 remaining in the third quarter. Agnew rolled left and bought enough time for Smith to get open. The sophomore caught the ball at the Bruins 6 and dragged defensive back Jay Shaw into the end zone.
Agnew said he should have thrown it to Smith earlier, but that he looked the wrong way.
”I was running a slant route. We was supposed to get me early off the break but I saw him running off left after the safety came down,” Smith said.
Things looked good for UCLA (0-2) early. It scored on its first series when Joshua Kelley ran around left end from 5 yards out. It went three and out or had a turnover on four of the next six drives before Greg Dulcich brought the Bruins within 17-14 midway through the third quarter when he caught a 20-yard touchdown from Thompson-Robinson. That would be as close as they would get though as Ariaza added a pair of field goals.
Thompson-Robinson completed 24 of 35 passes for 191 yards and a TD. Kelley, who missed last week’s opener at Cincinnati due to a knee injury, had 57 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
”I think I still need to improve on some things, obviously still the two fumbles, you can’t have that,” Thompson-Robinson said.
TURNING THE TIDE
San Diego State went three and out on its first drive, but scored its first touchdown of the season on its next series Chase Jasmin’s 2-yard run capped a 14-play, 75-yard drive that lasted 7:13.
Long said he expected his team to struggle early before finding its footing.
”It took us a whole quarter to get used to their speed. Once we got used to it we were fine,” he said.
San Diego State: The Aztecs now have more wins in the Pac-12 the past four seasons (five) than Oregon State (four).
”That is a crazy stat to believe and shows the coaches and players we had in the past. It started early and we are trying to keep it going,” Agnew said.
UCLA: Opponents have converted on Bruins’ turnovers at an alarming rate during Kelly’s tenures. Cincinnati and San Diego State scored 24 points off six fumbles and interceptions this season after opponents had 11 TDs and two field goals off 17 turnovers last season.
Saturday’s game drew 36,951, which is the third-smallest crowd to attend a UCLA game since it moved to the Rose Bowl in 1982.
It is also the second straight Bruins home game, dating to last season’s finale against Stanford that has drawn under 40,000.
San Diego State: Travels to New Mexico State next Saturday. The Aztecs have won seven straight in the series.
UCLA: Hosts No. 4 Oklahoma next Saturday. The Bruins have lost four of five to the Sooners, including 49-21 last season.
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