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First-half surge guides UCLA past Alabama St.

Sep 10, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins tight end Hudson Habermehl (81) is pursued by Alabama State Hornets defensive back Jeffrey Scott Jr. (7) on a touchdown reception in the first half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ethan Garbers replaced Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback early in the second quarter and ran for two touchdowns before halftime to help UCLA pull away for a 45-7 win against Alabama State on Saturday afternoon in Pasadena, Calif.

After Thompson-Robinson completed 9 of 11 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, Garbers completed 14 of 18 passes for 164 yards with an interception.

Thompson-Robinson appeared to sustain a leg injury while making a shovel pass, and Garbers finished off the 11-play, 70-yard drive by scoring on a 5-yard run for a 21-7 lead with 10:39 left in the opening half.

The drive was kept alive three plays earlier when Alabama State was penalized for roughing the passer on third down.

Nicholas Barr-Mira booted a 19-yard field goal for UCLA (2-0) to make it 24-7 with 2:43 left before halftime.

Garbers added his second touchdown run from 2 yards out to make it 31-7 with 1:02 remaining in the half.

Alabama State (2-1) began the game with a long drive, but it stalled after 10 plays when Myles Crawley threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-3 from the UCLA 32-yard line.

The Bruins took over and Thompson-Robinson completed four straight passes to start the drive and get into the Alabama State red zone.

A defensive pass interference penalty gave UCLA the ball on the 2-yard line and Keegan Jones ran into the end zone on the next play to give the Bruins a 7-0 lead with 7:58 left in the first quarter.

UCLA’s defense then came up with a big play when Crawley was sacked and lost a fumble at his own 25.

On the next play, Hudson Habermehl caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Thompson-Robinson to stretch the lead to 14-0 with 4:53 remaining in the opening quarter.

Alabama State strung together another long drive and this time the Hornets finished it off on a high note.

Crawley found Jeremiah Hixon over the middle for a 21-yard touchdown pass to cap the eight-play, 60-yard drive and cut the lead to 14-7 with 13:53 left in the first half.

Crawley completed 16 of 27 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown and interception.

–Field Level Media