UCLA adds receiver Isaiah Newcombe to 2021 class

UCLA received its ninth commit of its 2021 recruiting class Saturday night.

Three-star wide receiver Isaiah Newcombe, from Arizona, announced his commitment to the Bruins’ program via Twitter. He is UCLA’s fourth commitment in the last eight days.

Man!! Words can’t describe how excited I am right now!!🤩@CoachNewcombe @MsRachelN @UCLAFootball @GeoffreyLeins @CoachJimmieD @EthanYoungFB @CasteelFootball pic.twitter.com/rjL3pVo82z

— Isaiah Newcombe (@IsaiahNewcombe) June 14, 2020

“I would like to thank my family, friends, and coaches for supporting me throughout this whole process,” Newcombe tweeted. “I would also like to thank my dad for everything. You’ve helped in so many ways, you’ve pushed me to be the best. I would also like to thank all my teachers for helping and guiding me. After weeks of talking and praying over this, I’m excited to announce my commitment to the University of California, Los Angeles.”

Newcombe, 6-1, 185, is the third receiver committed to the Bruins’ 2021 class, joining Ezavier Staples and DJ Justice. According to 247Sports.com, Newcombe is not nationally ranked but the site lists him as the No. 10 prospect out of the state of Arizona.

With his addition, UCLA’s class falls to No. 5 in the Pac-12 and No. 58 nationally after rising to No. 4 in the conference and No. 54 earlier in the week with Deshun Murrell’s commitment.

The Arizona native chose UCLA over offers from Washington, Utah, Boise State and Fresno State.

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Former UCLA football coach Pepper Rodgers dies at 88

Former UCLA football coach Pepper Rodgers died Thursday after reportedly being hospitalized for injuries suffered in a fall at his home in Reston, Va., last week. He was 88.

A statement about his passing from his alma mater, Georgia Tech, did not give a cause of death.

Rodgers coached the Bruins for three seasons from 1971-1973. After a 2-7-1 record his first season, he turned the program around for winning seasons of 8-3 and 9-2 his last two years. He was named the Pac-8 Coach of the Year after the 1972 and 1973 seasons.

Under head coach Tommy Prothro, Rodgers was also an assistant coach for the Bruins during the 1965 and 1966 seasons. Prior to that he held assistant coaching positions at Air Force (from 1958-1959) and at Florida (1960 to 1964). His first head coach role came in 1967 for Kansas, where he led the Jayhawks to a Big Eight Championship during his second season.

He followed his time at UCLA by returning to Georgia Tech to coach his alma mater. In his six seasons with the Yellow Jackets, he led the team to four winning seasons and was twice named the Southern Independent Coach of the Year.

“I am devastated to learn of the passing of Pepper Rodgers,” Georgia Tech Athletics Director Todd Stansbury said in a release. “He was a Georgia Tech legend, having won a national championship as an outstanding player and going on to compile four winning seasons in six years as head coach.

“On a personal note, he was the coach that recruited me to Georgia Tech, and I am eternally grateful to him for bringing me here. If it weren’t for Pepper, I would have never had the opportunity to live out my dreams as a Tech student, football player, alumnus and, now, athletics director. He has also been a mentor and friend throughout my professional career and I will miss him greatly. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Livingston, his family and his many, many friends. We have lost a great Tech man.”

Rodgers had two professional coaching roles, first in the United States Football League with the Memphis Showboats (from 1984 to 1985), and with the Memphis Mad Dogs of the Canadian Football League in 1995.

He served as vice president of football operations for the Washington Redskins from 2001-2004.

As a quarterback for Georgia Tech in the 1950s, Rodgers led the Yellow Jackets to two conference championships, two Sugar Bowl victories and a share of the 1952 national championship with Michigan State. He was named the MVP of the 1954 Sugar Bowl and inducted into the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 2018.

After his collegiate football career came to a close, he spent five years in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot.

Rodgers is survived by his wife, Livingston, his daughters, Terri and Kelly, and his sons, Rick and Kyle.

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UCLA football’s underclassmen step up and show depth in season finale

PASADENA — In a night most often reserved for the celebration of seniors, a handful of UCLA underclassmen stepped up during Saturday’s season finale when the team needed them most — proving the Bruins’ depth is well prepared to take over for its departing seniors.

“That group took advantage of the opportunities that they had, and they’re excited to come back when we get a chance to get to spring ball and coach these guys up,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. “I know that through the experience that they’ve had and how they really progressed during the season, that I’m excited about what the future is.”

With three of the Bruins’ six starting seniors either sitting out the game with a previous injury, or suffering one during Saturday’s 28-18 loss to Cal, the Bruins’ underclassmen stepped up on both sides of the ball.

Prior to kickoff, senior inside linebacker Krys Barnes was dressed in full pads as he walked through a tunnel of cheering teammates toward his family during the team’s pregame senior celebration. His right ankle was taped, while his left leg sported a brace. Barnes did not play in the game, instead finding his place along the sideline and on the outside of huddles.

In his place was sophomore Bo Calvert, who made his season debut after missing the rest of the season due to serving an academic suspension. Because of the suspension, Calvert will not be given the option to redshirt the season.

However, he made his one-game season count as he earned the starting position in Barnes’ place and finished with 7 tackles.

“It was tough not having Krys out there, but he was in my ear the whole game, and I felt like I was really playing with him even though we weren’t out on the field together,” Calvert said. “I was able to make some plays for him and it felt good.”

Another underclassman filling in for an injured senior was redshirt sophomore Sam Marrazzo at center for Boss Tagaloa. Tagaloa left the game with less than a minute left in the first quarter with an injury. He was seen walking with a slight limp as he left the field into the players’ tunnel before halftime. He did not return to the game as Marrazzo played the remainder of the game.

As UCLA lost its lead at the end of the first quarter, it was the underclassmen that continued to play through the game without a sign of giving up. Some played through injury, as others took any small window of opportunity to leave an impact and help the team.

Junior defensive back Quinten Lake made his return after missing the past eight games due to a wrist injury. He ended Saturday’s game with four tackles while playing with a cast.

While senior running back Joshua Kelley had a historic night, redshirt junior running back Demetric Felton showed what he’ll bring in Kelley’s spot as he finished the night with 65 total yards.

Sophomore wide receiver Delon Hurt also made his name known, celebrating his first career reception on a two-point conversion to get UCLA within three points of Cal at 21-18 with about two-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter.

It’s this sense of grit that Calvert believes is the biggest impact this year’s senior class has left on the younger Bruins.

“The seniors have taught us all throughout this year to just be able to put your head down and work,” he said. “To not let the things around you distract you from what’s your ultimate goal and to keep moving forward. Those guys have faced a lot of adversity in their time here, but they were able to push forward and that’s really inspiring and makes you want to work harder.”

Seniors, like Kelley, believe it’s what will help propel next year’s team to successful heights.

“I have no doubt in my mind that they’re going to be [a contender in the conference],” Kelley said. “I know so. UCLA is going to be great these next two years, and I just know it without a doubt.”

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UCLA football ends season with third straight loss

PASADENA >> UCLA’s senior night ceremony may have been the only thing worth celebrating, as the Bruins fell to the Cal in the season finale 28-18 at the Rose Bowl Saturday. The Bruins’ season ends on a three-game losing streak, which was the same way it started.

Running back Joshua Kelley wrapped up his UCLA career with 19 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown, becoming the eighth Bruin to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

Kelley hurdled a Cal defender on the way to a 20-yard first quarter run to surpass the 1,000-yard mark.

The senior joined a list of running backs that includes Paul Perkins (2014-15), DeShaun Foster (2000-01) and Skip Hicks (1997-98), who all reached the same mark.

The Bruins cut Cal’s lead to three after Kelley’s 1-yard touchdown run and a successful two-point conversion with 2:26 left in the third quarter.

Cal running back Christopher Brown Jr. answered with a 10-yard touchdown run with 14:53 left in the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 10, following the PAT.

Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson relied on tight end Devin Asiasi to get the offense moving in the first half. As Thompson-Robinson endured his third sack, for a loss of 10 yards by Lone Toailoa of Cal, in the final 50 seconds of the first quarter, the Bruins also lost starting senior center Boss Tagaloa for the game.

Starting left guard Duke Clemens also went down in the third quarter with an injury.

Thompson-Robinson would head into the locker room with two minutes left to play after he was slow to get up off the field. Backup quarterback Austin Burton came into the game and led the Bruins down the field only to be stopped at the 2-yard line on 4th-and-1.

 

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Arizona holds on to beat UCLA behind quarterback Grant Gunnell

  • UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson throws against Arizona in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Arizona cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace defends the pass intended for UCLA wide receiver Jaylen Erwin (15) in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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  • Arizona quarterback Grant Gunnell (17) throws against UCLA in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • UCLA tight end Matt Lynch (81) catches a touchdown over Arizona cornerback Jace Whittaker in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin, left, and UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly talk before an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Grant Gunnell threw for 352 yards and a touchdown and Arizona held on to beat UCLA 20-17 Saturday night after JJ Molson missed a 39-yard field goal in the closing seconds.

Arizona (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) played without its two best offensive players with quarterback Khalil Tate and running back J.J. Taylor out due to leg injuries.

Gunnell had seen spot action earlier this season, but was making his first collegiate start. The freshman played like he had been the starter all along, playing with poise while completing 29 of 44 passes.

UCLA (1-4, 1-1) pulled off an epic comeback last week, rallying from 35 points down to beat Washington State. The Bruins needed another, not-so-monumental comeback after Gary Brightwell scored on a 10-yard run to put Arizona up 20-17.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson led the comeback against the Cougars, but left late in the third quarter after Arizona defensive end Jalen Harris fell on his left leg from behind.

His replacement, sophomore Austin Burton, had a chance when UCLA forced a punt and got the ball at its 9-yard line with 2:52 left.

Burton worked the Bruins down the field quickly to Arizona’s 21-yard line, but Molson pushed his field goal attempt wide right with 34 seconds left.

UCLA saved its season and potentially coach Chip Kelly’s job last week with its 67-63 comeback win over then-No. 19 Washington State.

Thompson-Robinson had a school-record 564 yards of offense while accounting for seven touchdowns and looked like he was going to slice right through Arizona’s defense as well.

UCLA went 85 yards — 40 on Thompson-Robinson runs — in 12 plays on its opening drive and scored on Matt Lynch’s 2-yard touchdown catch.

The Bruins sputtered after that, managing 100 yards the rest of the half.

Arizona was a little better at moving the ball — well, until it got to the red zone. The Wildcats crossed UCLA’s 20-yard line three times in the first half and stalled each time, settling for two Lucas Havrisik field goals and another he missed.

Arizona didn’t take long to get going in the second half, scoring on its first play when Darrius Smith took advantage of a breakdown in coverage by UCLA and streaked along the sideline alone for a 75-yard touchdown.

UCLA answered after Thompson-Robinson went down, scoring on a 3-yard run by Joshua Kelly after he broke off a 36-yard run to put UCLA up 17-13.

THE TAKEAWAY

UCLA lost its starting quarterback and another chance at a comeback victory when Molson missed his kick.

Arizona pulled out a gritty win without two of its best players and may be hitting its stride after a disappointing season-opening loss to Hawaii.

UP NEXT

UCLA hosts Oregon State next Saturday.

Arizona plays at Colorado next Saturday.

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UCLA upsets Washington State in high-scoring Pac-12 opener

PULLMAN, Wash. – That is one way to end a losing streak.

UCLA roared back from a 32-point deficit in the second half, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Demetric Felton with a minute left lifted the Bruins to a wild 67-63 victory over No. 19 Washington State at Martin Stadium on Saturday.

The game was the Pac-12 Conference opener for both teams, and the outcome did not seem in doubt when WSU built a 49-17 lead in the third quarter. Instead, the Bruins staged a comeback to remember behind an opportunistic offense that capitalized on a bevy of Cougar mistakes over the final two quarters.

Thompson-Robinson completed 25 of 38 passes for 507 yards with five touchdowns and one interception to overcome his counterpart, WSU’s Anthony Gordon, who passed for 570 yards on 41-for-61 passing and a school-record nine touchdowns.

Gordon had one final chance to drive the Cougars down the field, but UCLA’s Keisean Lucier-South forced a fumble on a sack. The fumble was recovered by Bruin linebacker Josh Woods.

Gordon’s seventh touchdown pass – a 6-yard strike to Dezmon Patmon – gave the Cougars a seemingly insurmountable 49-17 lead with just under 7 minutes left in the third quarter. UCLA staged a furious rally behind its quarterback, Dorin Thompson-Robinson, but the Bruins fell short.

Thompson-Robinson ran for a 1-yard touchdown run, fired a 37-yard touchdown pass to receiver Chase Cota, watched Demetric Felton take a reception 94 yards for another touchdown and added a 7-yard scoring pass to Devin Asiasi that cut WSU’s lead to 49-46 just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.

The teams traded six touchdowns in the final quarter alone. Max Borghi’s 65-yard touchdown reception gave WSU its final lead at 63-60 with 6:11 remaining.

Woods’ interception ended WSU’s opening drive and set up a 14-yard touchdown pass from Dorin Thompson-Robinson to tailback Joshua Kelley for a 7-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the game.

The Cougars (4-0) evened the score at 7-7 when Gordon and Easop Winston Jr. connected for the first of four touchdown passes. UCLA moved ahead 10-7 on its next drive with JJ Molson’s 31-yard field goal.

Winston Jr. hauled down two more touchdowns in the second quarter to propel the Cougars to a 35-17 halftime edge.

Felton broke free for a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter to trim the deficit to 21-17.

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UCLA football salutes seniors before season finale against Stanford

  • UCLA running back Joshua Kelley, left, cannot catch a pass over Stanford linebacker Jake Lynch during a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, right, catches a pass for a touchdown over UCLA defensive back Adarius Pickett during a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

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  • Stanford wide receiver Michael Wilson, right, stiff arms UCLA defensive back Elijah Gates during a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson, right, trees to escape from Stanford cornerback Kendall Williamson during a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, front, catches a pass for a touchdown over UCLA defensive back Darnay Holmes in the second half of a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA quarterback Wilton Speight looks to throw a pass during a game against Stanford at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA quarterback Wilton Speight, right, shows his excitement after scoring a touchdown wtih UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi during a game against Stanford at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA defensive back Darnay Holmes, right, tries to stop Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside from catching a pass during a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA defensive back Darnay Holmes scores a touchdown in the second half in a game against Stanford at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson, top, cannot catch a pass as Stanford safety Frank Buncom chases him during a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA quarterback Wilton Speight, center, is being sacked by Stanford safety Malik Antoine, left, in the second half in a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA tight end Caleb Wilson, center, cannot catch a pass as Stanford safety Frank Buncom, left, defends him during a game at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • UCLA quarterback Wilton Speight tosses the ball in the air after being sacked during a game against Stanford at Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

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PASADENA — There was almost no better way for it to end for Adarius Pickett.

The redshirt senior opened his UCLA career in 2015 with an interception in his first game and finished his tenure the same way Saturday as he picked off Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello on the first drive of Pickett’s final collegiate game.

But unlike his debut — a win over Virginia — Pickett didn’t walk out of the Rose Bowl with a win his finale.

The Bruins (3-9, 3-6 Pac-12) finished the year with a 49-42 loss to Stanford, saluting nine seniors before the game. Pickett, punter Stefan Flintoft, running backs Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi, receivers Christian Pabico and Stephan Johnson III, cornerback Nate Meadors, kicker Andrew Strauch and quarterback Wilton Speight were honored with their families prior to kickoff, running through a tunnel of their teammates to midfield, where they each embraced head coach Chip Kelly.

The seniors have provided the young Bruins leadership during a difficult first year under Kelly.

“Adarius Pickett is definitely one of my role models, Nate Meadors is a role model,” sophomore Darnay Holmes said. “They just showed me how I should walk around in life and have faith about everything.”

Johnson, Strauch and Jamabo participated in the ceremony despite still having eligibility. Jamabo was ruled out with concussions early this year after appearing in just three games and could still redshirt. Johnson, a redshirt junior, hasn’t played this season.

Strauch, a walk-on redshirt junior, was suddenly thrust into a big role Saturday as he took over punting duties for Flintoft. Flintoft, who entered the conference’s leader in 50-yard punts, was unavailable for the game, Kelly said, but the head coach declined to give specifics. Flintoft, a fifth-year senior, watched the game from the sideline in full uniform.

Meadors also missed his final collegiate game as he suffered an injury last week against USC. He was limited in practice this week and warmed up in full pads, but when the Bruins ran out of the tunnel for the game, the senior from San Bernardino was dressed in a gray track suit with a white cap. In his final game action, Meadors grabbed an interception against USC.

Grad transfer Justin Murphy was not honored before the game. The offensive lineman said this week he was in the process of appealing for a sixth season. He suffered two season-ending knee injuries at Texas Tech and got arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this season to repair a meniscus injury, but returned for the final two games of the year. He said the compliance department is hopeful his waiver will be granted.

Quick hits

Defensive lineman Rick Wade and defensive back Mo Osling III were not seen on the field Saturday. Wade missed this practice this week due to an undisclosed injury.

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