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Last-second field goal lifts UCLA over Arizona State, 45-43

Ka'imi Fairbairn splits the uprights with a 33-yard kick to help the Bruins become bowl eligible in October for the first time since 2005.

October 27, 2012|By Mike Hiserman
  • UCLA receiver Damien Thigpen pulls away from Arizona State safety Alden Darby for a scoring pass play in the second half Saturday.
UCLA receiver Damien Thigpen pulls away from Arizona State safety Alden… (Matt York / Associated Press )

UCLA gave away a possession, trailed by two touchdowns and, near the end, had 1 minute and 33 seconds to move a freshman kicker into field-goal range.

No sweat.

The Bruins had a second to spare -- the clock read 0:02 -- as Ka'imi Fairbairn lined up for a 33-yard field goal.

And the freshman from Honolulu, who had been automatic from inside 36 yards this season, stayed that way.

His kick split the uprights, giving UCLA a 45-43 win over Arizona State at Sun Devils Stadium in Tempe.

UCLA improved to 6-2 overall, 3-2 in Pac-12 Conference play, and became bowl eligible in October for the first time since 2005.

Arizona State fell to 5-3, 3-2.

"They just never stopped believing," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said in a postgame television interview.

Fairbairn is now 10 for 10 from 35 yards and in. He is 0 for 5 from farther out.

Acknowledging Fairbairn had struggled at times, Mora said, "We all had confidence he was going to knock that through. Man, I'm so proud of that young man."

UCLA took over at its own 25-yard line and drove 60 yards in 10 plays to set up Fairbairn.

Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley, a redshirt freshman, completed 19 of 31 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against a Sun Devils defense that entered the game as the nation's No. 1 unit against the pass.

Arizona State had been giving up only 130 yards passing a game and opposing quarterbacks had barely completed 50% of their passes.

"He might be young in age, but that sucker is so mature and unflappable," Mora said. "I've been saying it since spring. Nothing bothers him. He just executed beautifully."

Arizona State's defense had given up an average of just 299 yards a game, but the Bruins had 486. Johnathan Franklin led the running game, reaching triple digits for the sixth time this season in rushing for 164 yards and two touchdowns in 26 carries.

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly torched the Bruins secondary, completing 25 of 35 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. He also ran for 55 yards as the Sun Devils accumulated 535 yards in offense.

A mistake before the game nearly cost UCLA. At the time of the coin flip, UCLA captains were not yet on the field and punter Jeff Locke, who was out on the field warming up, was left to make the call on the toss.

UCLA won the toss, but Locke chose to kick off -- instead of simply deferring the ability to receive until the second half. That meant Arizona State took the ball to open the game, and then had the ability to take the ball again to start the third quarter.

The Bruins trailed, 14-0, barely five minutes into the game after Steven Manfro muffed a punt to set up one Sun Devils' touchdown and Arizona State drove 75 yards in 10 plays on its second possession.

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