One play set the tone for the outcome of Thursday night's Rice - UCLA football game.
On his first play as a college Quarterback, UCLA redshirt-freshman Brett Hundley raced untouched 72 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately, that would be only the first of many big plays to come for the Bruins en route to a 49-24 victory over the host Owls.
After giving up 19 points in less than 2 minutes the game looked headed for disaster. But the Owls rallied back to within 2 points in the second quarter, and kept things close all the way up to half-time. Then with only 17 seconds left, a Rice fumble was returned by LB Damien Holmes for a UCLA touchdown. Another big play. That effectively snuffed any momentum the Owls may have taken into the locker room.
After some deft UCLA defensive adjustments, the Owls were unable to get things going Offensively in the second half and walked away with plenty of "what ifs".
- This game was won at the line of scrimmage. UCLA has maybe the best Offensive, and Defensive Lines the Owls will see all year. The OL cleared the holes that sprung 3 huge runs (72, 74, and 78 yards) for UCLA. Meanwhile, the Bruin front 7 sacked Owl QBs 7 times.
- I mentioned that we may see something different from punting. We did. Former 2A All-State Punter Taylor Cook pulled double-duty last night, punting 7 times totaling 280 yards, for a respectable 40 yard average. He also caught 1 pass for 10 yards playing TE.
- Sam McGuffie was the leading Receiver for Rice last night, hauling in 8 passes for 63 yards. He scored on a 2 yard pass from Taylor McHargue in the 2nd quarter. Sam also returned punts and kickoffs.
- Cameron Nwosu was easily the Defensive MVP for Rice last night. He set an NCAA record with 3 blocked PATs; and also picked off an errant Brett Hundley pass, returning it 8 yards. Finally, he also logged 6 tackles from his Linebacker position.
- Owl QB Taylor McHargue had a very good game in spite of the loss. He played with confidence when the defense struggled and made some excellent throws when he had time - which wasn't often. He threw one head scratcher interception, but otherwise took care of the ball and made good decisions.
- Shortly after becoming head coach Jim Mora, Jr. openly stated his desire to shed UCLA's "soft" image. If last night is any indication he's done nothing but teach his team to hit after the whistle and deliver cheap shots frequently. UCLA LB Anthony Barr speared Taylor McHargue just before the half - a play that sidelined the Rice QB and led to the Owl fumble that was returned for a TD. Later in the second half, Bruin Wide Receiver Devin Lucien also delivered a blind side helmet to helmet hit on Linebacker James Radcliffe. That classless act drew a penalty, but several others went unflagged.