It took all of 12 seconds for Chip Kelly and company to know the UCLA Bruins weren’t playing against North Carolina Central anymore.

Utah junior linebacker Karene Reid picked off UCLA freshman quarterback Dante Moore on the first play of the game Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium by undercutting an outward slant pass and returned it an easy 21 yards for the core.

Kelly chalked the broken play up to a “miscommunication,” while Moore credited Reid for getting in position to make the play after not originally being there.

“That’s just from (Utah) watching a lot of film and know what’s coming,” Moore said. “From there, I threw it and he caught it...It was a big mistake.”

It took UCLA four possessions just to get past the 50-yard line. By that point, the Bruins’ offense had given up the pick-six, fumbled once and given up a sack.

The time they finally crossed midfield, they came up scoreless anyway with a turnover on downs at Utah’s 29.

“The Utah defense is a serious defense,” Moore said. “They bring pressure, and they have great DBs. The head coach and the defensive coordinator know what they’re doing to stop a lot of concepts.”

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The Bruins finished the game with three fumbles, losing one, and the pick, totaling two turnovers, and Moore was sacked seven times.

In context of the final score truly reflecting how critical the opening defensive TD was, Moore took UCLA’s loss on himself.

After a whole half of football, UCLA had just 49 yards to show for an offense that had yet to finish a game with less than 419 total yards.
UCLA ultimately finished the game outgaining Utah, 243-219, but two drives, one that ended in a fumble and one that ended in the Bruins only TD, accounted for 167 of those yards.

UCLA also became the fourth team in as many weeks this season that Utah has held to a single offensive touchdown.

Down 14-0 late in the third quarter, UCLA’s first real opportunity at getting in the end zone, came when the Bruins got down to Utah’s 10-yard line, but on 3rd-and-6 at the Utes 12, Moore’s keeper led to yet another fumble, caused by sophomore Lander Barton.

Poetically enough, the first pick-six ever returned by Reid came on the first play of the last Pac-12 opener the Utah Utes will ever play. The feeling was admittedly nostalgic for Kelly, who said he spoke about it with Utes coach Kyle Whittingham before the game.

“It’s kind of said that we’re not going to play them, they’re not going to play us,” Kelly said. “This is one of the special places in the Pac-12, being at Rice-Eccles and what Kyle (Whittingham) has done here winning two conference championships.”

For UCLA, playing Utah was a challenge much different than what it can expect for the rest of its season.

The Bruins’ upcoming schedule involves a bevy matchups with quarterbacks eyeing future Sunday games, including Cam Ward at Washington State, DJ Uiagaleilei at Oregon State, Shadeur Sanders at Colorado and Caleb Williams at USC.

The Bruins were instead tasked with containing a Utes team still rolling with backup quarterback Nate Johnson while patiently awaiting the healthy return of Cam Rising, who was inactive once again despite early reports he would be ready to play.

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Johnson was efficient throwing the ball but was far from being the focal point of the offense as he attempted just 10 passes in the first half.

Utah instead ran the ball down the Bruins’ throat with 37 carries for 153 yards in the half. Johnson himself finished with just 2 net rushing yards on 14 carries, getting sacked four times.

“I give props to Utah’s offense and their quarterback,” said UCLA senior linebacker Kain Medrano, who led the Bruins defense with two sacks and seven total tackles.

“They a great team, but as long as we just go out there and focus on us, I think that we can beat anybody. We’re going to get into film tomorrow, we’re going to watch film and move on, but it’s a great offense, I give props to them.”

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