Jake Haener, Fresno State finish off epic 40-37 upset of No. 13 UCLA

·3-min read

The good vibes for UCLA came to an abrupt end on Saturday night thanks to Jake Haener and Fresno State.

The Bruins were up to No. 13 in the country thanks to their big win over LSU a few weeks ago. In their first time back on the field since then, the Bruins were nowhere near as sharp and were upset 40-37 at home.

The fourth quarter of this game was unbelievable.

There were three touchdowns scored in the final 2:55 of regulation. The winning score came on a 13-yard strike from Haener to Jalen Cropper with just 14 seconds left.

It capped off a wild finish and an iconic performance from Haener, who finished 39-of-53 for 455 yards and two touchdowns.

The Haener-to-Cropper connection also ensured that Fresno State avoided a brutal collapse.

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener looks for a receiver during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against UCLA on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener looks for a receiver during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against UCLA on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

UCLA nearly completed epic comeback

Fresno State had a 26-17 lead in the fourth quarter and had a goal-to-go situation. But at that point, the wheels fell off for the Bulldogs. Fresno fumbled on back-to-back possessions and UCLA recovered them both, including one in the red zone.

As a result of those fumbles, UCLA managed to flip that 26-17 deficit into a 30-26 lead in the span of about two minutes.

But the upset-minded Bulldogs didn’t wilt. Haener, the transfer QB from Washington, made play after play and sustained multiple gruesome hits. Eventually, on third-and-goal from the 19, Haener delivered a strike through the pain to Erik Brooks for a go-ahead touchdown with 2:55 to go. 

After he delivered the clutch throw to Brooks, Haener was writhing on the field in pain.

The Haener TD toss to Brooks gave Fresno State a 33-30 lead, but Fresno’s defense was not able to seal the deal.

UCLA quickly advanced to Fresno State territory and went ahead, 37-33, on a Dorian Thompson-Robinson touchdown pass to Kyle Phillips with just 54 seconds to play.

It looked like UCLA had the game wrapped up, especially with Haener hobbled. But Haener engineered the drive of a lifetime. He led the Bulldogs 75 yards in just six plays and 40 seconds to, improbably, put them back in front with just 14 seconds remaining.

This time, it would prove to be the winning score.

Fresno State nearly upset Oregon just a few weeks prior, but Haener would not let this Pac-12 upset opportunity slip through his fingers.

The Bulldogs improved to 3-1 with the thrilling victory. UCLA dropped to 2-1.

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