Sophomore Quarterback Austin Burton started his first collegiate game Saturday in place of injured starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson who is out indefinitely due to a left leg injury suffered against Arizona.
As the Bruins aim to turnaround their season, UCLA faithful were looking towards Burton’s presence at the Quarterback position as a possible offensive spark. The (1-5) Bruins fell to the (2-3) Beavers 48-31 Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in a high scoring duel.
Burton’s first collegiate start was a solid performance the Bruins can look forward to building upon if his number is called on again for another start. The Sophomore Quarterback threw for 236 yards and a touchdown against the Beavers. The Bruins offense got off to a sluggish start going scoreless in the first quarter. The offense eventually found their groove, outscoring the Beavers 31-27 from the second quarter through the rest of the game.
Senior Quarterback Jake Luton steamrolled the Bruins defense throwing for 285 yards and 5 touchdowns gelling with his receivers all night long. Junior Wide Receiver Isaiah Hodgins looked good during pregame warmups and carried that momentum to the game catching 10 passes for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Oregon State Senior Running Back Artavis Pierce rushed for a 5-yard touchdown with 9:11 in the first quarter putting the Beavers up 14-0. On the kickoff following the score, the Beavers successfully recovered an on-side kick at the Bruins 27 yard line. One play later Luton connected to Sophomore Tight End Teagan Quitoriano for a 27-yard touchdown pass extending the 21-0 lead.
Down 21 points in the first quarter, Burton showed poise as he continued to stay level headed and bring his team within striking distance. “I just thought about the next play, to be honest with you,” said Burton. “I didn’t focus on being down 21, more of the focus was on what look we were going to get from the defensive and how we were going to adapt.”
Burton didn’t commit any turnovers and proved that he can compete as a collegiate quarterback despite the result of the game. The Sophomore led the Bruins on a 13 play 85-yard drive ending with a 7-yard touchdown reception to Freshman Wide Receiver Kyle Phillips for the Bruins first points of the game, totaling 7 minutes and 43 seconds of possession.
“I think I left some plays on the field, moved the ball, and I know we had some long drives. But at the end of the day, it comes down to winning and losing as a quarterback,” said Burton. “Especially as the quarterback, you have to be the leader of the team, and I personally don’t think I got the job done.”
UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly liked Burtons control of the offense and how he led drives despite a slow start to the game. “I thought that A.B., for his first start, he did a really nice job. He protected the football and did not put it in harm’s way, said Kelly. “He made some really big throws, that throw he made to Kyle for a touchdown was a really big throw.”
“I thought he extended some plays and drives with his feet. He made a really good read on the goaline to score the touchdown when they were ganging up on the run game,” said Kelly. “I felt like in the second half, we established the run pretty well. So for his first start, I was happy with what A.B. did today.” It remains uncertain whether Burton will need to fill in for Thompson-Robinson next game, it is certain that he has trust from his teammates and Head Coach.
The Bruins are on a bye this week and will head on the road to face the (3-3) Stanford Cardinals October 17th at 10pm.