LAS VEGAS – Eathyn Manumaleuna blocked a field goal as time expired to give No. 19 BYU a 17-16 victory over UCLA on Saturday night in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Kai Forbath made field goals of 52 and 50 yards to keep the Bruins in it and UCLA drove almost the length of the field in the final 2 minutes to line up Forbath for the potential winner. But Manumaleuna and Brett Denney led a surge by the defensive line for the block and the Cougars got their first win over the Bruins since Steve Young was the quarterback.
Max Hall threw for two touchdowns and the Cougars (11-2) closed the season with their 10th straight win despite getting shut out in the second half and having their lowest offensive output of the year.
BYU managed just 265 yards against the Bruins (6-7), who were playing for interim coach and defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker. If it was Walker’s only game as UCLA’s coach, it was a memorable one.
The Bruins forced two turnovers, pressured Hall all game and nearly pulled off the upset with their fourth-string quarterback.
Walk-on McLeod Bethel-Thompson drove the Bruins from their 2 in the final 2 minutes, completing a 36-yard pass to Logan Paulsen on a third-and-8 play with 30 seconds left to give UCLA a chance at finishing with a winning record.
It didn’t quite happen. Forbath’s kick was low enough for Denney and Manumaleuna to get a piece of it and keep the ball from getting through the uprights, although there was some confusion on who actually got the block.
In the end, Manumaleuna got the credit, which didn’t matter a bit to the Cougars.
Forbath had three field goals.
BYU improved to 2-7 against UCLA, beating the Bruins for the first time since 1983 when Young passed for 270 yards and two touchdowns. The Cougars also avenged a 27-17 loss to UCLA in the second week of the season, one of just two losses this year for BYU.
BYU won the Las Vegas Bowl for the second straight year.
Chris Markey ran for 117 yards for UCLA, the first runner to break the 100-yard mark against BYU this season. UCLA needed the running game to stay in it with its top two quarterbacks on the sideline with knee injuries.
Osaar Rasshan started and failed to complete his lone pass. Bethel-Thompson replaced him in the second quarter and was solid enough to keep the Bruins close, especially with the way the defense was playing.
UCLA got a huge break at the end of the first half when the Cougars decided to run a play instead of running out the clock inside their 10. Hall handed off to Harvey Unga and Brian Price stripped the ball, which the Bruins recovered at the 4.
UCLA scored on a pass from Bethel-Thompson to Brandon Breazell as the second quarter ended and the Bruins were only down 17-13 at halftime instead of 17-6.
It was a UCLA blunder that led to an easy score for BYU. Terrence Austin dropped a punt and BYU recovered at the UCLA 14, where Hall lofted a pass on first down to the back corner of the end zone and Austin Collie caught it running at full speed.
Hall went tumbling into the padding outside the sideline, but came up with the ball and gave BYU a 10-3 lead with 10:32 left in the second quarter. BYU scored again with 1:03 left on a 13-yard pass from Hall to Michael Reed.