No. 17 UCLA rebounds with 45-23 win over Colorado
UCLA nursed a hangover from consecutive high-profile losses
until late in the first quarter, when Brett Hundley ignored the
boos and threw a beautiful 76-yard touchdown pass to Devin Fuller
right through the heart of the Colorado defense.
There’s nothing wrong with these Bruins that a few more wins
couldn’t repair, and Hundley made sure they started the healing
process at home.
Hundley threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two more
scores, Fuller accounted for three TDs, and No. 17 UCLA shook off
those back-to-back losses with a 45-23 victory over Colorado on
Damien Thigpen also ran for a touchdown for the Bruins (6-2, 3-2
Pac-12), who rebounded from road defeats at Stanford and Oregon
despite a sluggish start in their homecoming game.
”It’s a relief, but our confidence was never lost,” said
Hundley, who moved into third place on UCLA’s career total yardage
list. ”Obviously, I know and we know that we can still get the job
done. I feel like this team can really respond well, no matter what
we go through.”
UCLA tried and failed to join the Pac-12’s upper echelon over
the previous two weeks. The losses followed a similar pattern: The
Bruins hung with the West Coast’s best until the second half, but
an ineffective offense eventually left its defense on the field too
long, leading to one-sided defeats in the final minutes.
Back home, UCLA’s defense finally got some help from the offense
in a 412-yard performance. The Bruins have outscored their
opponents 199-66 in four victories at the Rose Bowl this season,
and they buried Colorado early in the second half with a 28-3
”I hate to admit this, but I thought there was a little
hangover,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. ”We didn’t have the
enthusiasm that we typically have. I told them at halftime that I
didn’t think we were enjoying the game enough.”
The Bruins won despite 11 penalties for 122 yards, steadily
pulling away from Colorado with solid defense and just enough
playmaking from Hundley, their sophomore quarterback. Hundley
finished with 345 total yards, passing Tom Ramsey and Cory Paus on
UCLA’s career yardage list in just his 22nd game with the
Hundley passed for 273 yards and scored on runs of 11 and 1
yards. Fuller caught a 6-yard TD pass after his long score, and the
sophomore added a rushing TD with 3:36 to play in his most complete
game since switching from quarterback to receiver last year.
”We feel good when we can stretch the field like that,” Fuller
said. ”We also made some drives where we could give the defense
some rest, so that’s a complete effort for us.”
Sefo Liufau passed for 247 yards for the Buffaloes (3-5, 0-5),
who have lost 13 consecutive Pac-12 games. Colorado hasn’t beaten a
ranked team on the road in 21 tries since 2002.
Christian Powell rushed for 97 yards, Tony Jones rushed for a
score, and Will Oliver kicked three field goals for the Buffs, who
hung around until late in the first half.
”I think it shows we’re making progress,” Colorado coach Mike
MacIntyre said. ”That gives everybody a little bit more
confidence. Those kids and coaches in that locker room are all
down, but there’s a resilience to them.”
Paul Richardson shook off an injury to catch eight passes for 81
yards and a touchdown. Richardson, a Los Angeles native whose
father played for UCLA, was dismissed from UCLA three years ago
after getting arrested on suspicion of theft before he ever played
for the Bruins.
After opening the game with two fruitless drives, UCLA’s offense
drew a chorus of boos out of the Rose Bowl stands after a
yardage-losing play to open its third drive.
On the next play, Hundley delivered his long strike down the
middle to Fuller, who caught the ball in heavy coverage and kept
his feet for a score – the longest pass in the careers of both
Hundley and Fuller.
Colorado went back ahead in the second quarter with a 76-yard
drive ending in Liufau’s TD pass to Richardson, but the Bruins
responded with another strong drive capped by Hundley’s 11-yard TD
run up the middle.
UCLA’s Cameron Judge then forced a fumble on Colorado’s ensuing
kickoff return, and Hundley hit Fuller for a 6-yard TD catch capped
by a pirouette at the goal line for an 11-point lead.
Colorado trailed 21-13 at halftime despite possessing the ball
for more than 20 minutes and outgaining the Bruins, who committed
75 yards of penalties in the first half.
”I think we’re taking a step forward every week,” Liufau said.
”Obviously, we want to get a faster result and win games, but it’s
not happening right now.”
Hundley and Thigpen scored in the third quarter, and Fuller
added his short TD run with 3:36 to play.
The Bruins played without injured linebacker Eric Kendricks, and
tailback Jordon James returned from a three-game injury absence
with just 8 yards on six rushing attempts.
Colorado began the afternoon with a promising victory, winning
the opening coin toss for the first time in eight games this