UCLA edges Utah behind QB, defense
SALT LAKE CITY (AP)
He throws for touchdowns, runs for them, catches them — even mixes in a punt now and then.
Hundley hit the trifecta with a touchdown each passing, rushing and receiving Thursday night to lead the 12th-ranked Bruins to a 34-27 win over Utah that lifted UCLA to 4-0 for the first time since 2005.
''He's a tremendous player and an awesome leader,'' UCLA running back Paul Perkins said of his quarterback.
Hundley, who went 17 for 27 for 211 yards, also had an interception, throwing an ill-advised pass into the flat that Keith McGill picked off and returned 19 yards for a touchdown to tie it at 24 with 13:23 left.
But the sophomore quarterback followed with a meticulous, 13-play, 48-yard drive — completing a pair of passes to convert third downs, then scrambling for 8 yards to set up the go-ahead field goal.
Shortly after Anthony Jefferson's second interception of the night, Hundley ran 36 yards to put the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) ahead 34-24. He scooted through the Utah defense despite blurry eyesight after losing a contact lens earlier in the game.
''To be honest, I just saw some black jerseys and I was trying to run away from them,'' Hundley said.
Utah (3-2, 0-2) made a field goal to pull within seven, then recovered the onside kick. Wilson moved the Utes to the UCLA 23 with less than a minute left, but Myles Jack ended the game with pick No. 6.
''The defense stepped up,'' said Perkins, who finished with 92 yards on 16 carries. ''And the offense knew they were going to do their job.''
Moments after the game ended, a snow squall began over Rice-Eccles Stadium, where UCLA has had no luck in the recent past. This snapped a two-game losing streak at Utah that spanned six years and two coaches. More importantly, the Bruins established themselves as the early team to beat in a Pac-12 South division in which every other team has at least one loss and their cross-city rivals, Southern California, has two - along with a new coach.
''They're a good team. Could be the class of the South,'' Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. ''Time will tell.''
Time may also prove Hundley to be one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the country.
Combined with his 85 rushing yards, the sophomore finished 4 yards short of reaching the 300-yard mark in total offense for the fourth time in four games this season.
And fitting for a guy who can do it all, he even had a 27-yard quick kick, which pinned the Utes down on their 8 in the first quarter.
This game between two fast-break offenses started fast, as expected, with both teams scoring touchdowns over the first five minutes.
It settled into more of a tactical game from there and Hundley made better choices, completing passes to nine receivers and even catching a pass himself.
It came on a trick play, when the Bruins snapped the ball to running back Jordon James, who flipped it to receiver Devin Fuller, who hit his wide-open quarterback as he busted out from the line.
That score tied it at 14 and set up a quarterback-versus-quarterback showdown that Wilson lost badly.
But Utah's sophomore quarterback couldn't be blamed for all those picks. In fact, the first four came on balls that either got tipped or thrown under heavy pressure, a couple of which hit his receivers in the hands. Wilson finished 22 of 44 for 288 yards and two scores, including a 54-yard connection to Dres Anderson for Utah's first touchdown.
Still, Wilson's six picks led to 17 UCLA points — a number that couldn't be ignored in a game decided by a touchdown.
''We just had way too many mental errors,'' Wilson said. ''Some balls were deflected, but ultimately it was my fault.''
Along with Jefferson's two interceptions and Jack's game clincher, Eric Kendricks, Ishmael Adams and Priest Willis each had one.