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

Saturday night.

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

surge.

”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

Bruins.

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

season.