Thompson-Robinson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, Kirkwood came up with a critical interception inside the final 5 minutes, and UCLA beat Washington 24-17 on Saturday night.
Zach Charbonnet added 131 yards rushing and the Bruins (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) won their second straight on the road, remaining right in the middle of the Pac-12 South Division race.
“Just making sure I do my job and I do my job really well,” Thompson-Robinson said. “I think that’s what I did tonight as well as everybody else.”
Thompson-Robinson threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Greg Dulcich for what turned out to be the winning score with 8:19 remaining, capping a 90-yard scoring drive. He also threw a 17-yard TD to Kam Brown in the first quarter and had a 1-yard TD run late in the first half.
Thompson-Robinson was 21-of-26 passing for 183 yards and added another 87 yards rushing. His last run came with 2:01 left when he sprinted 8 yards for a first down after Washington used its final timeout.
“I thought Dorian played great today. I think he got the ball to eight different receivers, he did a really good job of spreading the ball around," UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. "What our game plan was going in he executed it to a tee. He was really good protecting the football.”
And when UCLA needed a big defensive play in the closing minutes, Kirkwood came through. Kirkwood intercepted Washington quarterback Dylan Morris at the UCLA 4 with 4:50 remaining. Morris had Jalen McMillian open for a potential touchdown, but didn’t lead him enough and Kirkwood made an excellent recovery, juggling and then securing the ball.
“I thought it was a really good play call by them and then when he threw it I thought we may be beat here,” Kelly said. “But he closed the gap and he’s just got such long arms, I thought he made a heck of a play on the ball.”
It was the second time Morris was picked off after getting intercepted on Washington’s opening drive of the game. Morris was 20-of-30 passing for 184 yards, but the Huskies failed to rebound after losing in overtime at Oregon State two weeks ago.
Washington coach Jimmy Lake said he does not believe there needs to be a QB change.
“We have to go back and watch the film and see exactly how it went down,” Lake said. “We’re not going to play perfect, but we've got to see how our protection was. We've got to see how the route was. I mean interceptions aren’t always on the quarterback.”
The Huskies (2-4, 1-2) are two games under .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2015 when Washington was 4-6 in mid-November before winning its final two games to become bowl eligible.
Thompson-Robinson was the catalyst of everything the Bruins did on offense, but especially the winning drive. Thompson-Robinson was 8-for-8 passing for 47 yards and added another 10 yards on the ground, including a key fourth-and-1 conversion.
“I can't go 8 for 8 if guys don't catch the ball and guys don't block. So credit to my O-line and also my receivers,” Thompson-Robinson said.
UCLA took a 17-3 lead after Thompson-Robinson scored on a 1-yard keeper on fourth-and-goal late in the first half. But the Huskies put together a critical drive in the closing moments of the half and pulled within 17-10 at the break on Rome Odunze’s 26-yard TD reception with 52 seconds left in the half.
Washington carried the momentum into the second half, getting a stop on UCLA’s opening possession and pulling even at 17-17 when Morris scored on his own fourth-down keeper from the 1.
Despite rallying from the 10-point deficit, Washington's offense was mostly a dud. The Huskies finished with a season-low 267 yards.
Washington got a spark with the return of pass rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui six months after he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in spring practice. Tupuola-Fetui was well ahead of schedule in his recovery and was cleared to return to practice during Washington’s bye week.
Tupuola-Fetui made an impact almost immediately, flushing Thompson-Robinson on his first snap and recording a QB hit. Tupuola-Fetui played in a small number of mostly passing situations.
Tupuola-Fetui made a splash last season with seven sacks in just three games during the truncated 2020 season.
“He did make a difference while he was out there, but we had a plan to keep it very, very limited and thankfully he came out of the game healthy,” Lake said.
UCLA was without starting wide receiver Kyle Phillips. There was no reason given for his absence, other than Kelly saying he was unavailable to play and did not provide an update for his chances to play next week. Phillips had a team-high 24 catches and six TD receptions entering the week.
UCLA: The Bruins return home to host Oregon next Saturday.
Washington: The Huskies have a short week and travel to Arizona on Friday.
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