PASADENA, Calif. “”mdash; Melvin Emesibe’s 1-yard touchdown run was just a small piece of a game in which his team scored nine touchdowns.
His score was the last of the game, as it came with five minutes left to put UCLA up 66-10 on Arizona.
It was the walk-on redshirt sophomore running back’s first collegiate touchdown, but no one was more excited than redshirt senior running back Johnathan Franklin.
Franklin rushed off the sidelines to the end zone to celebrate with Emesibe, which earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. But Franklin didn’t care ““ he had to be a part of the moment.
“Melvin works so hard,” Franklin said. “A lot of people don’t see what he does during the week. He’s a great guy and a great player, and he definitely deserved what he got today.”
While Emesibe’s touchdown was an important moral score for Franklin and the Bruins, the first touchdown of the game had an even greater significance.
Franklin’s 37-yard touchdown run in the first quarter put him on the top of UCLA’s all-time rushing list ahead of Gaston Green.
“It’s a great feeling,” Franklin said. “All praises go to my teammates ““ they push me every day in practice.”
Franklin’s score was the beginning of a huge night for the Bruins (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12), who went on to score touchdowns on six of their first seven possessions en route to a blowout victory.
“We showed a good amount of what we are able to execute,” said redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley, who threw for 288 yards and four touchdowns, three passing and one rushing.
“But there are still mistakes being made. We’ll have to come out and play again like we did this week and even better with the fixed mistakes next week.”
Despite the offense’s stellar performance, it was the defense that exceeded expectations. Arizona (5-4, 1-4) came into the game with the No. 4 offense in the nation with a quarterback in Matt Scott, who led the Pac-12 in passing yards by more than 500 yards.
“(Our players) had a great week of practice,” coach Jim Mora said. “They did all the things that they needed to do, and they put it all together tonight. There’s no magic to it. It’s just doing what you’re supposed to do.”
The win was one of the most dominant showings in recent history, and for UCLA, the victory was an important benchmark for the program.
“It feels almost unrealistic,” said redshirt senior defensive end Datone Jones.
“We worked hard in San Bernardino and in our offseason workouts, and we knew the kind of talent we had on this team. It means so much to see this all come together. This is big.”
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