UCLA defense scores three TDs in 28-20 win over Virginia

Charlottesville, Va. >> UCLA’s offense needed 43 minutes to score its first touchdown of the season.

Well, 43 minutes and 58 seconds, to be exact. In the third quarter of the No. 7 Bruins’ 28-20 win at Virginia, quarterback Brett Hundley took the handoff from six yards out, ran into a defender after three or four steps, and carried him the rest of the way. It was marvelous play, the type befitting someone who had graced two Sports Illustrated covers in three weeks this summer.

What didn’t fit the picture was … just about everything else. A team picked to make the inaugural College Football Playoff shouldn’t muster just 26 offensive yards in the second quarter. It shouldn’t have a offensive line that looked like Swiss cheese, even if the group isn’t at full health.

It shouldn’t need its defense to set historical milestones — not in the season opener against a 21-point underdog.

And after a scoreless first quarter at Scott Stadium, it was UCLA’s defense that poured on points.

At 13:35 in the second, cornerback Ishmael Adams — who had a punt return score nullified earlier — returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown. At 2:55, safety Randall Goforth picked up a fumble and ran 75 yards to the end zone. Ninety-five seconds after that, linebacker Eric Kendricks joined the party, plucking Greyson Lambert’s pass and scooting 37 yards to paydirt.

Suddenly, UCLA had a 21-3 lead despite just 122 offensive yards at that point — 10 fewer than they racked up on defensive returns.

The Bruins became first team since 2009 to score three defensive touchdowns in one quarter. They became the first in the last decade to do score three in one half against a Power 5 opponent.

But the momentum didn’t last long. The Cavaliers subbed out Greyson Lambert, who was making his first career start. They subbed in someone even less experienced: Matt Johns, a holder/reserve quarterback who had yet to throw a pass at Virginia.

It worked. Johns’ first throw sailed 32 yards down the sideline, hitting receiver Canaan Severin in stride. His second was a 29-yard strike to Andre Levrone. Instead of wondering how they trailed by 18 despite giving up zero points to the Bruin offense, the Cavaliers entered their locker room with a 21-10 deficit — and with hope.

Johns threw another touchdown early in the second quarter, but Hundley’s run gave UCLA enough cushion for its defense to close out the win.

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  • 5-Hole

    only real disappointment on defense was that I don’t think the Bruins had any sacks.

    offense was horrible. I kept wondering why they weren’t calling the quarterback draw, especially on a couple of the 3rd and 4th down tries. Finally they did, and had some success. But they better work hard this week.

    • Laker Rod

      Huge disappointment. Virginia’s left side of the O line had zero starts but yet UCLA’s D did nothing to put additional pressure and confusion on them. All they did was simply rush Owa for the most part. I would like to hope 5 star redshirt senior Owa could muster up at least one sack against a young O line and even a back up QB. UCLA’s D often tends to make opposing back up QB’s look like All Conference players for whatever reason.

      Also…the safeties are in no man’s land. They couldn’t come over quick enough to help any double coverage on those over the top passes where Moreau and Willis got beat. Why not run some safety blitzes. You only have to do it a few times to get the O line worried and confused. It effects the play for the remainder of the game usually also. Scoring 21 points by the D is great but giving up 20 to this Virginia team is not.

  • sdavis3398

    Sorry to have to say this, but the offense was reminiscent of the Neuheisal era. Very unsatisfying win that doesn’t bode well for what’s coming this season. Either Virginia was a very underrated team or UCLA is very overrated. This was unexpected.

    • EncinitasBruin

      Yes, but the difference is that a Neu team would have snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory, whereas the Bruins came away with the W. I’m concerned about the O, but it’s certainly not yet time to panic. Let’s give some credit to UVA’s underrated D, and to that phenom QB whose first two college passes went for TDs.

      • sdavis3398

        If you’re satisfied with just winning against an un-ranked team, you’re right. I’m not and I don’t think the team is either. I didn’t recommend panic, I just stated the obvious. They desire a championship and they know PERFECTLY WELL they looked mediocre for most of that game against a team they should have dominated.

        • EncinitasBruin

          I didn’t mean that you, specifically, were panicking. I’m not satisfied either, and I am also concerned. If, with our missing OL players back, we continue to struggle as we did today offensively, I will consider panic. But not yet.

      • UCLA owns LA Football

        By all means.

  • Danny

    OLine and penalties just killed the Bruins. Did not look like they were ready. I’m hoping that the reason the OLine looked so bad was having the backup center threw off the timing.

    Mora and co need to kick the team’s butt this week or Memphis is going to be ugly

    • facescar

      Slight overreaction, but this team will not beat Texas without real improvements.

    • MPPBruin

      Sounds like a similar synopsis of last year.

  • Tommy B Low Us

    Ok so, it was an ugly win, but a win is a win. Virginia is an acc team too. We did not play New Mexico and lay a stinker. If that was the case, I would be worried. Go Bruins!!

    • Virginia looked a whole lot tougher than last season’s record would indicate.

      • Tommy B Low Us

        Yeah very true. I think people get too wrapped up in early season rankings and player star rankings. Each game takes on a life of its own, and football is the ultimate team sport. Very unpredictable…

  • Aero93

    On the bright side, the chicken littles at BN are having a coronary.

    • Oz

      No they’re not, this is the perfect scenario for them. We won, so they will take all the credit for that, but we struggled, so they can bash everybody & demand everybody get fired. This is they’re wet dream.

  • EncinitasBruin

    It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take the W. That’s what contenders do. Alabama got a scare against WVU as well. Time to clean things up and come our firing against Memphis.

  • jameskatt

    1. The Offensive Line needs a lot of work. They are the heart of the team. But they were not communicating with each other and subsequently did not play as a team. They did not protect Brett nor did they create space for the running game.

    2. We have finesse running backs. Subsequently, we need the offensive line to open up holes for them to run through.

    3. We don’t have quick receivers. Subsequently, we need the offensive line to protect Brett in the pocket so that a receiver can get open.

    Klemm has a lot of work to do. And the Offensive Linemen need to be receptive and work together.

  • UCLA owns LA Football

    Why does the offensive coordinator Mazzone still have a job?! Adjusting a game plan to confront a defensive game plan is either the 2nd or 3rd item on OC job description.

    • If the line blocks and the receivers catch, it’s a blowout.

      Everything will be fine. UCLA sees that they’re mortal, that they have to play to win. They’re only going to improve.

  • VB

    Pathetic win. We definitely don’t deserve to be ranked in the top ten.

    • Numbers 1 and 2 had close games against unranked teams.

      UCLA was tough enough and resilient enough to beat an underrated Virginia squad.

      The offensive line will improve, the receivers will catch the ball, and the offense will perform much better.

      And what a defense!

    • JPKB

      Troll alert. Thanks for your two cents, Nestor.

  • ProbationU

    It was a poor game from our over-hyped Bruins. Perhaps we have been listening to the noise more than Mora thought. Dropped balls, missed blocks and a multitude of penalties speaks to a lack of focus. But, it is only week 1 and it is a long season. We need substantial improvement if we are to bead Texas and then ASU on the road.

  • 92104bruinfan

    Agreed we didn’t play like a top 10 team yesterday. Well at least the offense didn’t. Chalk it up to poor o-line play and a well designed defensive scheme by the Wahoos. If this ugly win early on generates a laundry list of items to address and will have the players’ full attention, then I’d rather have that happen now before the Memphis game. On the flipside, man the Bruin front 7 will be a hammer this season. If the broad theme across most sports is that defense wins championships, then this a HUGE asset to lean upon this season. Go Bruins!

  • Tommy B Low Us

    In case anyone is interested. Priest’s helmet did not come off. Officials blew Adam’s return for touchdown. Mora might want to look at the film.