UCLA and quarterback Brett Hundley achieved a measure of redemption Saturday, defeating Utah, 21-14, in a Pac-12 Conference game at the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins improved to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in conference play in bouncing back from being routed by California last week.
“We needed a tough one,” UCLA Coach Jim Mora said in a television interview after the game. “We needed a gut grind. I’m proud of our kids.”
Hundley, who had four passes intercepted last week at Cal, beat Utah with his arm and his legs. He passed for 183 yards and a touchdown and ran for 68 yards and a score.
Utah dropped to 2-4 overall, 0-2 in Pac-12 play, despite a solid performance by first-time-starter Travis Wilson, a freshman quarterback from San Clemente High.
“That kid’s going to be a heck of a player,” Mora said. “We’re going to have to deal with him for a long time.”
Wilson completed 22 of 32 passes for 216 yards, though he got off to an inauspicious start.
On Utah’s first drive, just after the Utes crossed into UCLA territory, Wilson had a pass deflected and picked off by UCLA’s Andrew Abbott.
UCLA then drove 65 yards for a touchdown, with Hundley scoring on a run from 12 yards out.
Utah bounced back by capitalizing on a costly UCLA mistake. Steven Manfro broke a cardinal rule, back-peddling on a booming punt, then turning around and trying to catch it over his shoulder in the end zone. He couldn’t do it, fumbled, and Ryan Lacey recovered for a Utah touchdown that evened the score, 7-7.
That didn’t last long, either. On the third play after the kickoff, Hundley threw a pass to Shaquelle Evans near the sideline, and UCLA’s top receiver slipped a tackle and ran the rest of the way untouched to complete a 64-yard scoring play.
That made the score 14-7, still in the first quarter.
Each team scored only once after that.
For UCLA, it came on a three-yard run by Johnathan Franklin midway through the third quarter.
For Utah, it came midway through the fourth quarter in a bizarre circumstance.
Quarterback Jon Hays, who lost his starting job to Wilson this week, threw a one-yard scoring pass to Dres Anderson on fourth-and-goal play just after taking his first snap of the game.
Hays was forced into action because of a new NCAA rule that says any player whose helmet comes off during a play must come out of the game for at least one play.
Wilson’s helmet came off on a quarterback sneak that brought the ball to the one.
The play capped an 11-play, 90-yard scoring drive in which Wilson starred. He completed four of seven passes for 62 yards on the march, and was on the receiving end of a 23-yard gain on a flea-flicker play.