PASADENA, Calif. — Washington’s quarterback of the future couldn’t help the Huskies overcome their persistent problems of the past.
Redshirt freshman Cyler Miles replaced injured senior quarterback Keith Price at halftime and led a valiant comeback effort Friday night, but UW’s road struggles continued in a 41-31 defeat against No. 13 UCLA before 68,106 at the Rose Bowl.
The Huskies (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) couldn’t overcome two lost fumbles on their first two possessions — giving UCLA (8-2, 5-2) a quick 14-0 lead — and UW lost for the ninth time in their past 12 conference road games. The Huskies are 0-3 on the road in Pac-12 play this season, and they have lost eight in a row to UCLA in the Rose Bowl dating back to 1995.
“It’s probably good that we have an extra day to regroup,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said, “because that locker room is hurting right now.”
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Price was in obvious pain after getting hit hard on consecutive plays late in the second quarter. The Compton, Calif., product, playing in this historic venue for the first time, was slow to rise after a failed third-down throw, then walked to the sideline favoring his right throwing shoulder.
An X-ray taken at halftime on the shoulder was negative, Sarkisian said. An MRI is planned for Saturday.
“I don’t know, man. I don’t know,” Price said, when asked about the severity of the shoulder injury. “I’m just praying.”
The Huskies travel to Oregon State next Saturday, where they haven’t won since 2003.
Miles, in his first meaningful action for UW, offered hope with his second-half relief appearance.
“I was excited when I got the word,” he said. “My teammates just kept telling me, ‘We trust you.’ I was excited and I put my trust in them and I was comfortable and I felt ready.”
Miles completed 15 of 22 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“He didn’t look like a backup to me tonight,” Sarkisian said.
Trailing 27-17 at halftime, UW got a boost when linebacker Princeton Fuimaono forced a fumble on the Huskies’ kickoff to start the third quarter. That set up Miles and the UW offense at the UCLA 26-yard line. Eight plays later, Miles found a wide-open Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown as UW closed the gap to 27-24 three minutes into the third quarter.
It was the second touchdown pass of Miles’ career, and first against an FBS opponent.
UW’s Travis Coons — moments after converting a daring fake punt from UW’s 25-yard line — had a 47-yard field-goal attempt blocked late in the third quarter.
Then early in the fourth quarter, with 10:07 left, Miles’ pass on fourth-and-two from the UW 40 fell incomplete. On the next play, UCLA’s Brett Hundley connected with Devin Lucien for a 40-yard touchdown to extend UCLA’s lead to 41-24 with 9:57 left.
The Huskies got another glimpse of the future with true freshman Damore’ea Stringfellow having the best game of his career. Miles hit Stringfellow for a 14-yard touchdown with 8:01 left, with the 6-foot-3, 225-pound receiver refusing to go down and getting pushed into the end zone for his first career touchdown. That cut the UCLA lead to 41-31.
Stringfellow had eight catches for 147 yards after entering the week with just three catches all season.
“He has a chance to be a star for us,” Sarkisian said.
With time winding down, Miles had back-to-back throws intercepted late in the fourth quarter to end the UW comeback attempt.
“The last two picks weren’t great, but I thought he had some drives, stood in and threw and ran with good command,” Sarkisian said. “I was actually very impressed.”
It was a wild first half that featured two UW fumbles in the first four minutes, leading to a 14-0 lead for the Bruins.
UCLA linebacker-turned-fill-in running back Myles Jack — the former Bellevue High star — had three first-half touchdowns for the Bruins and seemed to relish each one as he motioned to the UW sideline. Jack’s third touchdown pushed UCLA’s lead to 27-7.
“He’s a good kid,” Sarkisian said. “We recruited him. He plays for those guys. He’s a good player.”
Jack added his fourth touchdown in the third quarter to extend UCLA’s lead to 34-24. It was the fifth offensive touchdown scored by a UCLA defensive player, with defensive end Cassius Marsh hauling in a 2-yard pass from Hundley in the first quarter.
Washington’s Bishop Sankey had 91 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. Price finished 10 of 18 for 181 yards with one touchdown and two sacks.
The Huskies were called for 11 penalties for 113 yards. One questionable penalty against left guard Dexter Charles negated a Price touchdown pass to Stringfellow, and one pass-interference call on Sean Parker negated his interception in the first quarter.
“That was a frustrating game for us. It was a frustrating, frustrating game,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously, you spot a team of that caliber that 14 points right off the bat and you give them that field position, it makes it hard to battle back.”
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com.