Demetric Felton scored on a 2-yard run with 1:09 left and UCLA rallied after sputtering for most of the second half to beat Arizona State 25-18 Saturday night.
The Bruins (3-2) dominated early to go up 17-0, struggled as the Sun Devils (0-2) surged into the lead, then came to life at just the right time.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson accounted for two touchdowns and was sharp while engineering the final drive after missing two games due to COVID-19 contact tracing. UCLA moved 75 yards in 11 plays on the drive, capped when Felton tried to stop at the 1 but was pushed in by the Sun Devils.
Jayden Daniels accounted for two touchdowns — the second a 1-yard run with 4 1/2 minutes left — and Tyler Johnson had three sacks for the Sun Devils in their first game in a month to COVID-19 issues.
Arizona State opened the season in disheartening fashion, allowing two touchdowns in the final three minutes of a 28-27 loss to Southern California.
Then the Sun Devils got stuck in COVID-19 limbo.
Their Nov. 14 game against California was canceled after several players and coaches, including head coach Herm Edwards, tested positive. The next two games, against Colorado and Utah, also were shelved due to contact tracing issues.
The Bruins played three games in that span, so they were midseason form while the Sun Devils almost had to start over.
And that’s the way it looked in the first half.
Thompson-Robinson repeatedly picked his way through Arizona State’s defense with his arm and legs, helping the Bruins build a 17-3 halftime lead. He hit Delon Hurt on a 9-yard touchdown and scored himself on an 11-yard run just before halftime.
Arizona State’s offense, after sputtering in the first half, came to life in the second, thanks to a trick play.
It happened on the opening drive, when Ricky Pearsall caught a backward pass and threw it back across the field to Rachaad White, who turned it into a 51-yard gain. Daniels then found Frank Darby on a 10-yard touchdown.
Arizona State’s defense snapped to in the second half as well.
The Sun Devils bottled up Thompson-Robinson in the second half and forced him into an intentional-grounding penalty for a safety — right after Arizona State lost a fumbled snap at UCLA’s 1-yard line.
Daniels threw an interception in the end zone, his first in 203 straight attempts, but scored on a 1-yard run to put Arizona State up 18-17.
UCLA turned what would have been an ugly loss into victory with a huge drive in the final minutes.
Arizona State looked dominant after needing a half to shake off the rust, but the defense couldn’t hold once Thompson-Robinson got the Bruins going late.