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    Laiatu Latu, UCLA defense display dominance against Stanford
    • October 22, 2023

    While Ethan Garbers started at quarterback and Carson Steele scored three touchdowns and served as the focal point in the UCLA football team’s victory over Stanford, it was edge rusher Laiatu Latu and the Bruins’ defense that continued to display their dominance.

    The defense allowed just 24 total rushing yards on 17 carries along with 268 passing yards and a touchdown against the Cardinal’s offense.

    “I thought it was a good team win out there,” said UCLA coach Chip Kelly. “We generated a pass rush and made it difficult for their offense with that front of ours. It’s difficult to block so we kept them behind.”

    Stanford quarterback Ashton Daniels was sacked four times by the Bruins, improving their average to 3.43 per game and sitting tied for eighth in the country.

    Latu improved his sack total to 6.5 on the season, tied for ninth nationally, after bringing down Stanford quarterback Aston Daniels for a 3-yard loss on second-and-12 late in the second quarter.

    The edge rusher has 17 sacks (10.5 in 2022) as a Bruin and ties Takkarist McKinley (2014-16), Neal Dellocono (1981-84), Karl Morgan (1979-82), Martin Moss (1978-81) and Manu Tuiasosopo (1975-78) for 13th on the program’s all-time career sacks list.

    Latu needs four sacks to surpass Mark Walen (1982-85) to claim sole possession of 10th all-time.

    The senior was named as an Associated Press Midseason All-American first-team defender last Wednesday.

    Defensive lineman Gabriel Murphy produced a pair of sacks on third down that forced the Cardinal to punt in the first and third quarter respectively. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Carson Schwesinger also had his first career sack as a Bruin.

    Kelly spoke highly of Alex Johnson during a pregame radio show interview and mentioned that the defensive back had been playing at an “All-American level” this season.

    Johnson has also received midseason honors, being named to the Pro Football Focus midseason All-American first team. He currently leads the Pac-12 Conference with three interceptions.

    While he didn’t improve his total Saturday night, he did finish among the Bruins’ tackling leaders with five. He also blocked Aidan Flintoft’s 20-yard punt attempt in the third quarter.

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    “It was there all night,” Johnson said. “It was almost perfection. It should’ve been a clean block for a touchdown but we will take what we can get.”

    Stanford was unsuccessful on all four fourth-down attempts against the Bruins. Cornerback Devin Kirkwood was responsible for one of those stops, forcing receiver Elic Ayomanor to fumble the ball after a 15-yard completion on fourth-and-5. Linebacker Oluwafemi Oladejo recovered the ball for the Bruins. It was the second recovery this season.

    “I think our effort is consistent,” Johnson said. “If our effort is as consistent as it’s been then I think that will be the showcase that you see week in and week out.”

    ​ Orange County Register