The Houston Cougars came out with an outstanding 5:54 minute drive and finessed their way down the field. It was a crisp drive that went 80 yards on 16 plays for a touchdown. The Bruins were playing catchup the rest of way and unfortunately they could never quite get there losing 38-34 in the opener.
UCLA's start was the opposite. They couldn't have started out worse, but at the same time, they showed the potential of the offense.Johnathan Franklin ran for eight yards on his first carry of the day. Then on second down, in what would be a precursor for the game, senior center , Kai Maiava hiked the ball over the head of starting quarterback Kevin Prince for a huge loss.
On third down, Prince hit Nelson Rosario for nice 15-yard gain, but the Bruins came up short and the die was pretty much cast for the rest of the game. UCLA played catch up the rest of the way and just couldn't get it done because of sloppy tackling and shoddy placekicking. The first quarter was all Houston as they put put up 10 points against the Bruins to their goose egg.
The play of Houston quarterback, Case Keenum was outstanding all day and when he needed to make a play for his team, more than likely he did.
The second quarter was closer as the Bruins showed what a weapon that junior tight end, Joseph Fauria has the potential to be. Prince hit the emerging Fauria on a 29 yard pickup that was followed by a Johnathan Franklin 18 yard touchdown run to make the score 10-7.
It looked at this point that the Bruins were going to take over the game, but Prince was hurt after and four-yard run and an outstanding tackle by Houston defensive back, D.J. Hayden.
Enter Richard Brehaut into the game for the injured Prince, but he was cold in his first appearance off the bench and his timing was off. Shortly after his entrance the Bruins turned the ball over on a Brehaut and Jordon James mishandled handoff and the talented Keenum made the Bruins pay, turning UCLA's turnover into seven points on a seven play 55 yard drive that was culminated on a 12 yard touchdown run by Bryce Beall, who was able to break free for the score.
The Bruins were hanging in there and Brehaut overcame a missed throw on first down to engineer a nine play 80 yard drive that ended on a five yard touchdown pass to Fauria, after a Brehaut to Fauria 25 yard pickup set the play up.
The score at this time was 17-14 Houston, but it looked like the Bruins had the momentum. Unfortunately that momentum would not be long lived because Houston's talented signal caller would have nothing of that.
Keenum pounded the Bruins for a four play 66 yard touchdown drive that lead up to a Michael Hayes 35 yard touchdown run where he broke Bruin tackle, after Bruin tackle.
The Bruins couldn't muster anything up and left the defense to hold serve, but with the way Keenum was carving them up, that was not meant to be.
Keenum led the Cougars on a two play 64 yard drive aided by a Sheldon Price pass interference call. Keenum hit Tyron Carrier for a 23 yard touchdown to take a 31-14 halftime lead.
It was a little bit of too little, too late for the Bruins as they dominated the second half, scoring three touchdowns opposed to Houston's one.
This was a very dissatisfying opener after such a solid camp. Truth be told, it was the same old story, the Bruins were their own worst enemy in this game. The Bruins lost this game on the little details such as a hike on their first drive that negated a good first down gain.
Besides all the little things that hurt UCLA in this game, if the kicking game would have done their job, there was a chance that the Bruins would have gone into overtime, but Kip Smith missed a 32-yard field goal and an extra point.
The difference of the game was four points.
After a slow start, Brehaut heated up and had an outstanding game. He ended up throwing for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Brehaut also did the job with his feet, rushing for 87 yards and a rushing touchdown. Houston's Keenum, threw for 310 yards and one touchdown.
Franklin in a losing cause, rushed for 128 yard and scored one touchdown.
Though disappointing, this was a game that could have been won. Keenum is who he is and at the end of the day, he was the difference. When the Cougars needed a play, he was able to deliver.
UCLA found out that they have a huge weapon in Fauria and Brehaut is an effective runner, as well as a solid passer. The Bruins need to tackle better and not make the little mistakes that they did today that hurt their chances.
The Bruins don't have time to hang their heads. They have to get back to work and get ready for San Jose State.