Hundley leads UCLA past USC, 38-20 – Reuters
Hundley leads UCLA past USC, 38-20
Hundley leads UCLA past USC, 38-20
PASADENA, Calif. — UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Bruins defeated crosstown rival USC 38-20 on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
The game was close throughout most of the first half, but UCLA scored a late second-quarter touchdown and two more on its first two possessions of the second half.
“Those were big,” Hundley said. “To come out in the second half and go up 31 and then 38-14 said a lot about us tonight.”
The victory keeps the Bruins’ hopes for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game alive. If the Bruins (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) can defeat Stanford next Friday, they will play Oregon, which beat UCLA 42-30 in October, in the title game.
“This was a good win that just sets us up to chase our dreams,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “But Stanford has beat us three times in a row, so we can’t gloat.”
As is usually the case with the Bruins, their success depended greatly on the skills of Hundley, who began the year as a Heisman hopeful. Hundley had been particularly effective in three games leading up to Saturday, rushing for more than 100 yards twice. But Saturday he mostly picked apart the Trojan defense from the haven of a clean pocket, completing 22 of 31 passes for 326 yards and touchdowns of 10, 57 and 13 yards.
“The keys to the ballgame were pretty clear,” USC coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Their ability to extend drives, their third-down efficiency, 9-for-16, and then their efficiency in the red zone, 5-for-6. Over time that took a toll on us.”
The game was supposed to be a matchup of two of the Pac-12’s most efficient and consistent quarterbacks. Hundley and USC’s Cody Kessler entered the game completing better than 70 percent of their passes. But Hundley was clearly better Saturday night, controlling the game throughout, although he did throw an interception for a touchdown and lost a fumble near the USC goal line. By the time the latter turnover occurred, UCLA was comfortably ahead.
Kessler, who completed 22 of 34 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown, spent most of the evening running from or being swallowed up by the UCLA defensive line. Coming into the game, much had been made of USC’s front four on defense, something that UCLA’s linemen took a bit personally.
“I think they saw this game as an opportunity to show who had the better defensive line,” UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said.
On Saturday, it was clearly UCLA, which sacked Kessler six times, compared to just two sacks of Hundley by USC.
Hundley began the game quickly, completing four of his first five passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Well, three if you count an interception he threw to USC linebacker Anthony Sarao, who returned the ball 17 yards for the game’s first score with 11:53 left in the first quarter.
Hundley responded with two quick scoring drives, completing a 10-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Devin Lucien after the Bruins recovered a muffed punt.
The next time Hundley touched the ball, he completed a short pass to sophomore wide receiver Thomas Duarte in the middle of the field. With no defenders around, Duarte ran straight downfield, 57 yards untouched, for the score.
USC (7-4, 6-3) tied the score with its first offensive touchdown early in the second quarter, on Kessler’s 2-yard pass to running back Justin Davis.
After a field goal put the Bruins ahead 17-14, the Trojans seemed poised to tie the score or go ahead, driving to the Bruins’ 30-yard line. But Kessler’s pass was tipped and intercepted by senior linebacker Eric Kendricks with little more than five minutes to go in the half.
Hundley then drove his team down the field and, with 14 seconds left, completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Eldridge Massington. The extra point gave UCLA a 24-14 lead at halftime.
The Bruins started the second half by driving 84 yards on nine plays to score on running back Paul Perkins’ 10-yard run.
UCLA took a 38-14 lead when Hundley capped another drive with a 15-yard touchdown run.
“They score right at the end of the half, then they came right back out and got another seven to start the second half,” Sarkisian said. “Then we go three and out and they get seven more. That really was the entire ballgame.”
NOTES: At the end of the first quarter, UCLA retired Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 in all sports. Robinson was a four-sport athlete for the Bruins from 1939 to 1941. … This was the 84th meeting between USC and UCLA. The rivalry started in 1929, when USC beat UCLA 73-0.