PASADENA, Calif. - Derek Hagan was hoping for a Hollywood-worthy performance in his last college game in southern California.
Instead, the senior receiver from nearby Palmdale turned in an effort that will stand in stark contrast to the body of his work at Arizona State.
UCLA turned two second-half Hagan fumbles into 14 points to break a 28-28 halftime tie and the Sun Devils never pulled even again in dropping a 45-35 decision.
"I’m pretty down right now because basically I just cost us the whole game," said Hagan as he walked off the Rose Bowl field.
"That’s not something I ever expect to see from myself and it won’t happen again."
For Hagan, the turnovers overshadowed a significant personal milestone.
With a 2-yard touchdown catch from Rudy Carpenter midway through the fourth quarter, Hagan became the Pac-10's alltime leader in receptions with 249, eclipsing the mark set by Troy Walters of Stanford.
He also eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving for the season. He now has 1,066.
"I’m definitely not thinking about that right now," he said. "This loss hurts too much."
ASU coach Dirk Koetter said he thought Hagan was trying to do too much with 50 to 60 family members and friends in attendance and ASU desperately needing a win to restore some legitimacy to its season and clinch a bowl berth.
"Sometimes, big-time players like that try to take too much responsibility on themselves," Koetter said. "Those balls that slipped out, we’ve all seen Derek make those plays a million times."
UCLA got off to a sizzling start Saturday, scoring on its first four possessions to take a 28-14 lead.
But ASU showed a resiliency belying the gutwrenching season it has endured. Just before halftime ASU pulled even at 28 and the Sun Devils appeared to have momentum when Carpenter found Hagan over the middle for a 46-yard gain to the Bruins’ 18-yard line early in the third quarter.
But UCLA cornerback Marcus Cassel reached from behind Hagan and stripped the ball while Jarrad Page recovered.
Nine plays later, UCLA took a 35-28 lead.
Two plays later, Carpenter found Hagan on a 3-yard gain, but Cassel stripped him again while Dennis Keyes recovered.
"I thought I had a tight grip on the ball but somehow he made those plays," Hagan said. "I don’t even know what to say. I was trying to make a small play into a big play and instead I just made bad plays."
Hagan had a few others Saturday, most notably his three dropped passes. But Koetter found it hard to criticize a player who’s been as reliable and exceptional as Hagan has been in his four-year ASU career.
"Derek is a terrific player," Koetter said. "I’m sure he’ll bounce back."