PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Dante Moore threw two touchdowns in his first collegiate game and UCLA pulled away in the second half for a 27-13 victory over Coastal Carolina.
Moore, the first five-star recruit during Chip Kelly’s six seasons in Westwood, directed the Bruins to scores in four of his six drives. The 18-year old from Detroit came into the game in the second quarter and completed 7 of 12 passes for 143 yards with an interception.
“Truthfully I wasn't feeling pressure. I was more excited than nervous,” Moore said. “There was more confidence when I took the field. When I saw the fans cheering, I appreciated that and knew I had to put the ball in the end zone.”
J.Michael Sturdivant, a transfer from California, had five receptions for 136 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that extended UCLA's lead to 21-13. The score came one play after Coastal Carolina's Liam Gray missed a 55-yard field goal attempt.
“It was just go. The DB bailed at the snap and I kept running. Dante put a good ball on me and I got in the end zone,” Sturdivant said.
UCLA's defense struggled during the first half, but forced turnovers on three of its final six drives. The Bruins were also the first team to pick off Coastal Carolina QB Grayson McCall twice in a game.
McCall — the three-time Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year — had only eight interceptions in 35 games in his first four seasons, including only two last year.
“I'm pleased with how our guys played but there are a lot of things to clean up,” Kelly said. “We had plenty of self-inflicted wounds, but those are things we can iron out.”
The Chanticleers dropped Tim Beck's debut as coach despite three interceptions by safety Clayton Isbell, including two in the end zone. McCall was 27 of 42 for 271 yards with a touchdown and Sam Pinckney had nine receptions for 139 yards and a score.
“It comes down to who can score touchdowns and who can’t. And we didn’t. And they were able to a couple of times, and a couple of big plays, and so we ended up on the short side of the stick," Beck said. "But I thought our defense really played well and gave us an opportunity to win the game. We just didn’t finish offensively.”
Ethan Garbers got the start led UCLA to a touchdown on its first drive after it got the opening kickoff — a 21-yard scoring pass to tight end Carsen Ryan 1:59 into the game.
Garbers though couldn’t generate points in his remaining four possessions. The junior was picked off twice and had a pair of three-and-outs as he went 10 of 17 for 121 yards.
“I’m a little dissatisfied in my performance,” Garbers said. “You try to get the ball to amazing guys and it doesn’t go your way. It was one of those nights.”
Moore came in on UCLA’s fourth series. After a pass to Carson Steele went for no gain, Moore was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled right before finding Sturdivant up the right sideline for a 39-yard gain.
Three plays later, Moore hit Steele on a screen pass for a 14-yard score with 3:57 remaining in the first half to extend the Bruins lead to 14-3.
Coastal Carolina got a pair of field goals by Gray to trail 14-6 at halftime. The Chanticleers were able to convert Isbell's second interception into a touchdown when McCall connected with Pinkney for a 9-yard touchdown to get them within 14-13 with 10:08 remaining.
Isbell is the fourth player in Coastal Carolina history with three interceptions in a game and the first in 11 years.
“I really forget the first one, but the other two, all the D-linemen and linebackers got good pressure on the quarterback and forced a tough throw, so I was able to be in position to catch that one," he said.
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers were able to stay in the game for three quarters and had the ball for nearly 35 minutes, but UCLA's depth was too much.
UCLA: Kelly planned to play three quarterbacks after a competitive preseason camp, but he has found his starter in Moore.
Coastal Carolina: Hosts Jacksonville State next Saturday.
UCLA: Travels to San Diego State next Saturday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll