PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Wilton Speight didn't know when he was going to receive another opportunity to play quarterback for UCLA, but when he did he wasn't going to let the opportunity slip away. The graduate transfer got that chance during Saturday's game against Arizona when starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson was injured during the second quarter. Speight came in and threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Bruins held on for a 31-30 victory.
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Wilton Speight didn't know when he was going to receive another opportunity to play quarterback for UCLA, but when he did he wasn't going to let the opportunity slip away.
The graduate transfer got that chance during Saturday's game against Arizona when starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson was injured during the second quarter. Speight came in and threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Bruins held on for a 31-30 victory.
"It has been a long time but I am happy and relieved," said Speight, who completed 17 of 27 passes for 204 yards.
Speight transferred from Michigan, where he started 16 games over three seasons. He won UCLA's starting job but aggravated a back injury during the first half of the Sept. 1 opener against Cincinnati and was replaced by Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Thompson-Robinson, who was 5 of 8 for 103 yards and a touchdown, appeared to injure his arm while being sacked during the second quarter, which paved the way for Speight.
"I thought he was good. He hadn't played in a while, so there was a little rust there," UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. "For him to come back in was good. In the fourth quarter he was on point. Once we kind of got settled with him I thought he did a really nice job."
Joshua Kelley — who had 136 yards on 31 carries — has rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games, becoming the first Bruins' running back to do that since Tyler Ebell had a six-game streak in 2002. Kelley's 28-yard touchdown with 11:33 remaining gave the Bruins (2-5, 2-2 Pac-12) the lead for good.
"Wilton was excellent. He is experienced and has always tried to stay ready," Kelley said.
Arizona's Rhett Rodriguez was 15 of 34 for 231 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first collegiate start while J.J. Taylor rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown. Shawn Poindexter had six receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wildcats (3-5, 2-3) would have won the game if it wasn't for a pair of costly turnovers in the first half. Rodriguez was picked off by UCLA free safety Quentin Lake in the end zone to end the Wildcats' second drive.
In the second quarter, Taylor appeared to be going in for a 56-yard touchdown until Darnay Holmes forced a fumble at the UCLA 3 and recovered it in the end zone.
"The decision making in critical moments hurts in a game like this," Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin said. "When you are in these one-score games we have to close them out. Tonight was a situation where UCLA did it."
UCLA led 17-7 at halftime before Arizona scored 13 straight points. After Josh Pollack's 29-yard field goal brought the Wildcats within a touchdown, they tied it on their next possession on a Rodriguez 11-yard touchdown to Poindexter. Arizona took over on the UCLA 15 after Derek Boles' sacked Speight and recovered a fumble.
The Wildcats would take a 20-17 lead on a 39-yard field goal by Pollack before the Bruins would take it back when Speight threw a 25-yard touchdown to Demetric Felton.
Taylor's 1-yard TD early in the fourth quarter put Arizona back on top 27-24, but it lasted only 61 seconds before Kelley's score.
A Pollack 29-yard field goal with 6:28 remaining brought the Wildcats within a point, but UCLA would take over and run out the clock.
Speight's first touchdown pass, which came late in the second quarter and gave the Bruins a 17-7 lead, had a Michigan connection. It was a 24-yarder to Devin Asiasi, who also played there before transferring at the end of the 2016 season.
Speight threw Asiasi his first collegiate touchdown in a 2016 game against Penn State.
STARTING THINGS OFF
UCLA scored on its opening drive for the first time this season as Thompson-Robinson connected with Kazmeir Allen for a 16-yard touchdown. It marked the first time in 17 games, dating back to Sept. 9 of last season against Hawaii, that the Bruins had a touchdown on its first possession.
Arizona: The Wildcats bounced back after last Friday's 42-10 loss at Utah, but this their third loss by five points or less this season. Sumlin repeated a familiar refrain from this season that the game was a learning experience for his young team.
UCLA: As crazy as it sounds, the Bruins all of a sudden find themselves as one of four teams with two losses in the Pac-12 South who have a shot at winning the division. Utah and USC are 3-2 while Colorado and UCLA are 2-2.
Arizona: Hosts Oregon on Saturday.
UCLA: Has a short week as it hosts Utah on Friday.