For UCLA’s Ishmael Adams, a lost helmet equals lost punt return TD

UCLA's Ishmael Adams scores on a punt return during the first quarter of Saturday's win over Virginia.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA’s Ishmael Adams was elated, then deflated and, finally, perplexed in the first quarter of the Bruins 28-20 victory over Virginia on Saturday.

Adams scurried 85 yards for what appeared to be UCLA’s first punt return for a touchdown since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2005. It was wiped out because teammate Priest Willis lost his helmet.

Willis, who was blocking on the play, did not leave the field, but put his helmet back on and continued. The rule is a player can’t continue playing in that situation.

“I found out walking back to the sideline,” Adams said. “I thought it was a hold, then was told what the call was. I was confused. I have heard of that rule, but didn’t think they expected you to stop playing when you lose your helmet. Who stops playing?”


Adams felt better later in the game, when he intercepted a pass and went 20 yards for a touchdown.

Line woes

UCLA’s line was cobbled together Saturday.

Center Jake Brendel didn’t play because of a sprained left knee. Scott Quessenberry started in his place. Tackles Conor McDermott (shoulder) and Simon Goines (knee) were also sidelined, putting freshman Najee Toran in the starting lineup.

Virginia’s defense blitz repeatedly, leaving the Bruins on their heels.

UCLA had 116 yards rushing, averaging 3.0 yards per carry. Quarterback Brett Hundley was sacked five times.

“I know there is going to be a lot of concern about our offensive line, and it is warranted at this point,” Coach Jim Mora said. “Anyone who watched that game is going to go ‘What are they going to do with the offensive line?’ We know we’ve got a good group. We’ve got to play better and they will play better.”

On the run

The Bruins’ offense perked up when Hundley ran with the ball in the third quarter. He finished with 39 yards rushing for the game, including a six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

The hope had been Hundley, who led UCLA in rushing last season, would have to run less this season.

“I have the ability to do that,” Hundley said. “I pride myself on understanding that. If we need a spark, I can run the ball a little and be that spark.”

Running back Paul Perkins offered a little relief. He had 60 yards rushing, including a 16-yard run during UCLA’s third quarter touchdown drive.

“Collectively, we all have to take the pressure off Brett in the running game,” Perkins said.

Up the charts

Hundley threw for 242 yards, giving him 7,053 for his career. He moved past Corey Paus into third place on the all-time UCLA list. Drew Olson is second with 8,532 yards.

Hundley’s touchdown run was the 21st rushing touchdown in his career. He is fourth in UCLA history. John Sciarra is third with 23.

Quick hits

UCLA’s defense scored three touchdowns. The last time a Bruins defense scored three touchdowns was against Oregon State in 1986. … Linebacker Eric Kendricks finished with 16 tackles, intercepted a pass and forced a fumble. Linebacker Myles Jack had 13 tackles. … Matt Mengels handled UCLA’s punting and averaged 39.6 yards on seven kicks. … Ka’imi Fairbairn had a 45-yard field goal attempt sail wide right in the first quarter. He is seven of 16 from 40 or more yards during his career.

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