Dorian Thompson-Robinson passed for 349 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for two more scores, and UCLA emphatically reclaimed the Victory Bell with a 62-33 victory over Southern California on Saturday.
Kazmeir Allen made two TD catches and returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score in the highest-scoring performance ever by the Bruins (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) in 91 editions of Los Angeles’ crosstown showdown.
Kyle Philips also caught two TD passes as UCLA beat the Trojans for the first time since 2018 and won at the Coliseum for just the second time since 1997.
The Bruins romped with a wealth of big offensive plays mostly created by Thompson-Robinson, who beat the Trojans as a starter for the first time in his four-year UCLA career with an afternoon of brilliance.
Thompson-Robinson provided the game’s signature moment when he rushed for a score shortly before halftime and celebrated by signing a young fan’s UCLA hat behind the end zone. He then capped the victory on another TD run with 3:47 to play, gracefully hurdling a USC tackler on the way in.
Thompson-Robinson rebounded from throwing interceptions on his first two passes to go 16 for 22. He has just five 300-yard passing games in his up-and-down career, but three were against USC.
Jaxson Dart passed for 325 yards with two interceptions in the freshman’s debut start for USC (4-6, 3-5), which has lost four of five in the final weeks of interim coach Donte Williams’ tenure.
Vavae Malepeai rushed for a career-best three touchdowns, but USC’s defense yielded 609 total yards in the Trojans’ fourth loss in their last five games at the Coliseum.
The Bruins and Trojans split the past decade of this rivalry, with five wins apiece for the schools separated by 13 miles of freeways.
Although he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his unplanned autograph session, the quarterback epitomized this celebratory afternoon for a program that’s finally seeing some modest fruits from its high-profile investment in Kelly nearly four years ago. UCLA is headed to its first bowl game since 2017, and this decisive victory will carry weight among alumni and in recruiting.
The Bruins got a stunning breakout game from Allen, the running back/receiver hybrid who previously had only 13 receptions and two TDs this season.
UCLA was down 3-0 when it got its first TD on a 45-yard catch by an untouched Allen. USC also failed to lay a hand on Allen midway through the second quarter on his 58-yard TD catch — and he returned a kickoff for another thrilling score late in the third quarter when USC had trimmed the Bruins’ deficit to nine points.
UCLA: In beating their archrivals with an exciting team that now has a chance at an upper-tier bowl game, the Bruins are finally where many fans feel they should have been in 2018 — the year Kelly was hired. That’s probably enough to get a contract extension for the veteran coach, but UCLA could use two more wins this season to boost its momentum.
USC: Playing 2 1/2 months without a permanent head coach might not have been the best idea. The Trojans have their fourth six-loss season in the past decade after hitting that low just four times in the previous 20 years. USC’s administration thought it could reach a bowl game after firing Clay Helton two games into the season, but the Trojans must finish 2-0 against BYU and California to avoid the program’s second seven-loss season since 2000.
UCLA: Host Cal on Saturday night.
USC: Host BYU on Saturday night.
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