UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson definitely bruised, not beaten

Dorian Thompson-Robinson spent the final 21 minutes of Saturday night’s game grimacing in pain after the UCLA quarterback, whose right thumb was already taped, slammed his throwing hand into the helmet of Bruins guard Sam Marrazzo as he his 38-yard pass completed to Logan Loya in the third quarter.

This was in addition to the two monster hits Thompson-Robinson scored from USC defenseman Latrell McCutchin, who sidelined the fifth-year-old for a game in the fourth quarter.

And the helmet-to-chest hit he absorbed from Trojan’s nose tackle Stanley Ta’ufo’ou, a second-quarter punch so fierce it was checked for possible targeting.

Then there was the vicious lead block that Thompson-Robinson, showing the power of a 275-pound pulling guard, “pancaked” with USC safetyman Max Williams on Zach Charbonnet’s 19-yard run in the second quarter.

Also, the third-quarter sack from Tyrone Taleni, USC’s 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle, who flattened Thompson-Robinson and forced a fumble, rallied the Trojans.

Thompson-Robinson was nearly beaten to a pulp in a grueling 48-45 loss to USC, his willowy 6-1, 205-pound frame battered and bruised, his right index finger bleeding, his hand throbbing and his ego crushed by his four Turnovers stung – three interceptions and a lost fumble.

But about 45 minutes after the game, Thompson-Robinson emerged from his post-game interview for one last look at the Rose Bowl field, and when he heard two UCLA fans call down from the upper concourse, he confirmed to them, raising his hands in the shape of a heart.

It was a fitting end to a frustrating night that saw Thompson-Robinson, outplayed by USC counterpart Caleb Williams, couldn’t have shown much more heart.

“I think one of Dorian’s greatest qualities, and I say it all the time, is his toughness,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said ahead of Sunday night’s practice as the Bruins begin their short-week preparations for the regular-season finals on Sunday Friday in Cal started. “He’s the toughest quarterback I’ve ever seen. … Dorian literally leaves it on the field every time he plays.”

Thompson-Robinson set two more school records in Saturday night’s wild game, passing Brett Hundley for 11,953 yards in his five-year career and finishing first with 110 touchdowns after scoring six points against the Trojans.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson jumps after a touchdown against USC.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson jumps after a touchdown against USC.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

He completed 23 of 38 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns, three to tight end Michael Ezeike and one, a 55-yard dart that he threaded between four USC defensemen, to Kazmeir Allen for an early hit in the fourth quarter.

But his performance fell short of Williams, who shredded the Bruins for 470 yards and two touchdowns and completed 32 of 43 tries, part of the 649-yard USC effort that was the most yards UCLA has clinched since the 720 yards in Washington State had given up in 2019.

“We blitzed ’em, we played zone, we rushed guys for cover, we rushed two, we rushed three, we rushed four, we rushed six,” Kelly said. “I think we went through everything to defend ourselves against them.”

As poorly as the defense played — USC scored touchdowns on four straight second-half possessions — the unit gave the Bruins a chance late in the game when Laiatu sacked Latu Williams on a 12-yard loss to force a punt .

UCLA, trailing 48-45, took over on their 11-yard line with 2 minutes and 21 seconds left. Thompson-Robinson connected with Jake Bobo for 27 yards on the third down, but a third-down pass for Allen was intercepted in midfield by edge rusher Korey Foreman, who had ducked for cover with 1:26 left.

Game over.

“They did a drop eight in the last game,” said Thompson-Robinson, who left the field in tears. “Nobody was open. It probably should have been thrown away. In the end I have to live with it.”

The heartbreaking loss to their Crosstown rivals knocked the Bruins out of the Pac-12 championship game and relegated them to a mid-sized bowl game — think Holiday, Las Vegas or Sun Bowl — but the schedule didn’t leave time to “take it easy.” feel or we feel sorry for ourselves,” Kelly said.

Players resumed practice on campus, and Thompson-Robinson was a full participant in Sunday practice, hurling passes around the field, no worse for Saturday night’s attrition.

“We have to go back to it immediately,” Thompson-Robinson said, “flush that loss, look at all the errors, fix it and put it behind us.”

USC's Calen Bullock forces UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson off.

USC’s Calen Bullock forces UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson off.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

A strong two-game finish would help erase the sour taste of USC’s loss and put on a high note 27 UCLA seniors, many of whom helped lay the foundation for Kelly’s tenure, which began in 2018 .

“I think the younger guys realized after tonight that this is a special group of seniors that will be talked about at UCLA for a long time,” said Thompson-Robinson. “I can’t wait to get back out there with them next week and play with them one last time.”

Staff writer Thuc Nhi Nguyen contributed to this report.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/story/2022-11-20/dorian-thompson-robinson-bruised-ucla-cal UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson definitely bruised, not beaten

Emma Bowman

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