Haener’s TD pass lifts Fresno State to 40-37 upset of UCLA

Sports
Jake Haener

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener looks for a receiver during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against UCLA on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Jake Haener threw for 455 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown pass to Jalen Cropper with 14 seconds remaining, and Fresno State upset No. 13 UCLA 40-37 Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.

Haener overcame a crushing hit to his right hip in the fourth quarter to rally the Bulldogs. After UCLA regained the lead with 54 seconds left on Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s 15-yard pass to Kyle Phillips, a limping Haener directed a six-play, 75-yard drive that gave the Bulldogs (3-1) their fourth straight win over the Bruins.

Cropper had three receptions for 50 yards on the drive, including the TD. Josh Kelly also had a 26-yard catch that put the ball at the UCLA 12 with 23 seconds remaining.

Haener completed 38 of 53 passes for Fresno State, which finished the job against a Pac-12 program after leading then-No. 11 Oregon in the fourth quarter two weeks ago before losing.

Cropper had 14 receptions for 141 yards and Kelly added eight catches for 120 yards. Ronnie Rivers rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns.

Fresno State had a nine-point advantage in the fourth quarter, but the final 7:27 included four lead changes.

Thompson-Robinson passed for 278 yards and three touchdowns while Phillips had seven receptions for 113 yards and two TDs. Zach Charbonnet ran for two touchdowns for the Bruins (2-1), who were ranked for the first time in four years.

Haener’s 19-yard strike to Erik Brooks put Fresno State back in front 33-30 with 2:55 remaining, but Thompson-Robinson directed a nine-play, 74-yard drive, culminating in his second TD pass of the night to Phillips.

The Bruins were able to rally back due to a pair of Bulldogs turnovers. Fresno State led 26-17, had the ball at the UCLA 9 and were looking to put the game away with 9:23 remaining when Carl Jones stripped Haener of the ball. After it rolled 34 yards and a mad scramble ensued, Myles Jackson recovered it at the UCLA 43.

Three plays later, Thompson-Robinson delivered a perfect pass to Phillips, who eluded Bralyn Lux’s coverage, for a 38-yard score to bring UCLA within 26-23.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t have it long on the ensuing possession when Kelly fumbled after a 13-yard completion. UCLA’s Jordan Genmark Heath recovered and returned it 20 yards to the Bulldogs 18.

UCLA took its first lead since the first quarter when Charbonnet capped off a three-play drive with a 3-yard TD up the middle to put the Bruins up 30-26.

Rivers opened the scoring with a 1-yard run up the middle with 5:54 remaining in the first quarter to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead. The 2-point conversion was no good after holder Carson King’s pass was incomplete.

Rivers then broke a pair of tackles en route to a 36-yard score up the right sideline midway through the second quarter to extend Fresno State’s lead to 20-10.

UCLA responded after Rivers’ first touchdown with a scoring drive of its own to take a 7-6 lead. Thompson-Robinson connected with Kam Brown on the first play of the drive for 38-yard completion to the Bulldogs 35. Four plays later, Charbonnet ran it in from 6 yards out for his fifth TD of the season.

Fresno State regained the lead on the ensuing possession with a 14-play drive that lasted just over seven minutes. Cropper capped the drive with a 1-yard run on a jet sweep to give the Bulldogs a 13-7 advantage with 11:49 left in first half.

The Bulldogs had a 23-10 lead at halftime. UCLA though got within six on Thompson-Robinson’s 39-yard pass to Brown on the opening drive of the second half.

THE TAKEAWAY

Fresno State: The Bulldogs held the ball for 40 minutes and showed that it could be a force in the Mountain West.

UCLA: The Bruins had four pass plays of 38 or more yards, but it was unable to stop Fresno State’s passing attack.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

UCLA might remain in the polls after showing the mettle to rally back, but it was a bad week for the Pac-12.

UP NEXT

Fresno State begins its Mountain West schedule on Friday against UNLV.

UCLA travels to Stanford on Saturday to begin Pac-12 play.

___

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