It wasn't Brett Hundley's best game, but UCLA managed to stay in control and win the game.
Overall thought: sloppy but we win. We'll take it for now, but don't expect to win like this every week.
Also, Little Hochuli is awesome.
Saturday night lights started spectacularly for the Bruins, as David Piland of Houston throws the ball backwards and Eric Kendricks recovers the fumble and scrambles into the end zone for a touchdown. 16 seconds into the game, 7-0 Bruins. The defense keeps up their spectacular play by forcing a three and out, with no cushions for the receivers.
On UCLA's first offensive series, Houston forces their own three and out and we send out our best player, Jeff Locke with the first of many spectacular punts on the night. Thankfully our defense keeps up their intensity and forces another quick three and out with Houston backed up against their end zone. Rinse and repeat as we cannot convert the third down again and Locke booms another punt.
When we get the ball pack from Houston, we run the ball a few times with our three headed running back machine of Damien Thigpen, Johnathan Franklin and Jordon James. Brett Hundley connects with Jerry Rice Jr, sending 49ers fans into an absolute tizzy. We march downfield and aided by a defensive holding (which bailed out Joseph Fauria, who didn't have a great game) we connect with #97 in the end zone. Wait, WHO IS NUMBER 97?! DATONE JONES on offense! (He can't wear 56 since that's XSF's number.) Datone Jones with his first touchdown and the defensive has done all the scoring in this game. 17 beautiful plays that ate up nearly 5 minutes of the clock.
From this point of the game, it seemed to go downhill for UCLA and continued to slide downhill for Houston. (I may have also been distracted by watching SC lose to Stanford. What an absolutely beautiful game to watch.) It wasn't fun football to watch on our channel. We'd pick up yardage here and there - Franklin picks up a first down, a nice pass out to Johnson for 10 yards, Hundley hitting Darius Bell, Thigpen picking up 25 yards, but we could not get into the end zone. We did manage, after a nice punt return by Steven Manfro (aided by a beautiful block by Dalton Hilliard) a 35 yard field goal by Fairbairn, who was our most consistent scorer of the night.
Then the turnovers began.
On a 3rd down, when UCLA is being flagged for holding, Devin Lucien catches a pass and is promptly stripped. After a three and out by Houston, UCLA is moving along but Fauria is stripped and fumbles. Houston finally gets their offense moving, but misses a 46 yard field goal. Hundley is then nearly picked for what would have been a sure fire pick six.
Thankfully, the defense decides they want to get back into the turnover game, and Randall Goforth, THE FRESHMAN (said Gus Johnson style) intercepts Houston when they are going for it on 4th down, after a nice tackle on third down by Jordan Zumwalt. Unfortunately we cannot take advantage of the interception before the end of the half and we go into halftime with a 17-0 lead.
In the second half, we roll on our first possession (minus a hold by Fauria that negated a nice run by Jordon James) (but aided by a horse collar penalty on Houston) Hundley eventually swings the ball to James and he scampers into the end zone absolutely untouched and aided by a beautiful block by Darius Bell. Fairbairn converts the PAT, and we're up 24-0. Take that, Vegas.
The defense continues the turnover machine, and on third and long for Houston, Sheldon Price intercepts Piland, even while Jordan Zumwalt is behing held. Unfortunately the offense stalls and cannot take advantage of the interception and we punt. On the bright side, Hundley has all the time in the world to throw, so great job offensive line. Unfortunately on the next UCLA possession, Hundley laterals the ball backwards and it is recovered by Houston. Damn.
That's fine, our defense picks up Hundley again and picks Piland off again, as Tevin McDonalds has a 50 yard return on his pick. Fairbairn converts the 23 yard field goal, and his kicking has really improved. That's why you stick with him.
The rest of this game just... kind of moves along. Sheldon Price winds up with two more interceptions, Fairbairn kicks another field goal, Kevin Prince comes in for mop up time and Steven Manfro scores a touchdown. Perhaps the only blemish is that Houston wound up scoring on a 86 yard round by Piland (shades of Taylor Martinez) and I was really hoping for a shutout, as that would have been some great momentum going into next week.
The final score was 37-6, UCLA. Extremely disappointing were the five turnovers by UCLA, including two picks by Brett Hundley, but on the plus side with did force six turnovers. Disappointing were three straight penalties by Torian White, but on the bright side was seeing him being taken out of the game immediately and behind held accountable for his actions. Johnathan Franklin may have "only" rushed a little over 100 yards, but he still rushed for 100 yards and moved up to number 2 on the all time UCLA rushing list. Sheldon Price had three interceptions but had a silly running into the kicker penalty at the end of the game. We had 567 yards of offense, but at times it was an ugly 567 yards. On defense we only gave up 388, and only 139 yards rushing, with 86 coming on ONE play.
There will be plenty for the coaches to work on in the coming week as we prepare for Oregon State. As Coach Mora said, we need to "play better." The game may not have been in doubt, but we can and have played better.
In the end, we're 3-0 and the only undefeated football team in LA. Delicious Trogan tears.