Saturday, October 27, 2012
Ka'imi Fairbairn's leg lifts UCLA
By Kevin Gemmell
UCLA true freshman Ka'imi Fairbairn connected on a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give the visiting Bruins a 45-43 road victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Taylor Kelly connected with D.J. Foster with 1:33 remaining in the game to put Arizona State ahead 43-42 in a critical, back-and-forth Pac-12 South showdown.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley took over at his own 25-yard line with 1:33 to play and moved the Bruins (6-2, 3-2) down to the ASU 15-yard line. He was 4 of 7 on the final drive (two attempts were spikes) for 40 yards.
“He might be young in age, but that sucker is so mature and he’s unflappable,” UCLA coach Jim Mora told FX after the game. "I've been saying it since spring. Nothing bothers him. He just executed beautifully and that was wonderful.”
Fairbairn, who is now 10 of 10 on field goals inside 36 yards, but is 0 for 5 outside that range, drilled the deciding kick dead center.
“Ka’imi, he’s struggled a little bit, let’s be serious, but we all kept confidence that he was going to knock that through,” Mora said. “Man, I’m so proud of these young men.”
Hundley finished 19 of 31 for 274 yards with three touchdowns. Running back Johnathan Franklin had a very strong game, rushing for 164 yards on 26 carries with a pair of touchdowns.
The game smacked of the 2011 match up, which UCLA won 29-28 when ASU missed a last second field goal.
It looked like it wasn't going to be a nail biter early. The Sun Devils (5-3, 3-2) jumped ahead 14-0 in the first five minutes on a touchdown pass from Kelly to Kevin Ozier and a touchdown run from Marion Grice.
But the Bruins stormed back and seized momentum at the end of the first half when Kelly threw an ill-advised ball from his end zone, which was picked off by Dalton Hilliard. Franklin darted in on the next play to give the Bruins a 21-17 lead at the break.
The teams went back-and-forth in the second half before ASU took the lead in the closing minutes, setting up Fairbairn's finish.
Aside from the one interception, it was a very strong game from Kelly, who completed 25 of 35 balls for 315 yards and four touchdowns. ASU’s backs continued to be impactful in the receiving game with Foster catching seven balls for 107 yards and the score. Grice caught six balls for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
But ultimately it came down to the play of a redshirt freshman quarterback and a true freshman kicker.
“We needed this,” Mora said. “The resilience and the resolve our young men showed, they never stopped believing.”