UCLA beats Memphis 42-35 in close contest
By Jordan Lee
Sept. 6, 2014 10:31 p.m.
This post was updated on Sept. 7 at 12:26 a.m.
PASADENA – It wasn’t supposed to be a shootout. It wasn’t even supposed to be close. For the second week in a row, UCLA found itself in a close contest against what was thought to be a much lesser opponent.
Luckily for UCLA, Brett Hundley and the Bruins offense brought plenty of ammo. They would need all of it.
A week after looking completely punchless against Virginia, the UCLA offense was right at home in its Rose Bowl debut. Hundley looked the part of the dark horse Heisman candidate he has been billed to be, as the redshirt junior quarterback threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore running back Paul Perkins added another two scores on the ground as UCLA defeated a pesky Memphis Tigers team to move to 2-0 on the year.
The Bruins struck early and often, scoring four times in the first half, with all four drives lasting less than 3 minutes and 34 seconds. None were quicker than the one-play 62-yard drive that saw Hundley connect with redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kenny Walker to put UCLA ahead 13-7 in the first quarter.
Hundley hit sophomore Y receiver Thomas Duarte from 14 yards out for the Bruins’ third score of the game with 9:46 to go in the second quarter. The two would hook up again for a 52-yard pass and catch that put UCLA first-and-goal at the four. Perkins would finish the drive a play later with his second touchdown run. Hundley found redshirt junior wide receiver Tyler Scott in the back of the end zone a two-point conversion, rectifying a missed extra point by junior kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn following UCLA’s first touchdown.
The Bruins offensive firepower wasn’t much of a surprise. A suddenly porous defense however, was. The Bruins were plagued by poor tackling and allowed 310 yards in the first half alone after surrendering 386 total against Virginia.
Memphis moved the ball at will in the first two quarters, as sophomore quarterback Paxton Lynch scored through the air and on the ground sandwiched in between a seven-yard touchdown run by sophomore receiver Sam Craft, and UCLA had no answer for Memphis’ varied attack.
However, the UCLA defense would find a different way to contribute. Sophomore linebacker Myles Jack scored his first touchdown of the season after receiving a block from sophomore defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, among others. The four-yard score put UCLA ahead 35-21.
The Tigers, as they did all night, answered right back. After being shut out in the third quarter, sophomore running back Doroland Dorceus halved the UCLA lead to 35-28 with 14:21 remaining in the final quarter.
They would quickly tie the game as redshirt senior safety Fritz Etienne intercepted Hundley and ran it back to the house to knot the score at 35-all.
Hundley returned to form the next drive, guiding UCLA down the field. He and Duarte hooked up for their second score of the night, this one from 33 yards out to make it 42-35 with 10:52 to go.
The team would trade punts for much of the quarter while the UCLA defense couldn’t get out of its own way. Junior linebacker Kenny Orjioke was called for illegal hands to the face on fourth down to extend a Memphis drive and sophomore cornerback Priest Willis committed pass interference on a key third down and 15.
However, finally, mercifully, the the Bruins defense came up with a stop, as junior defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy and freshman defensive end Matt Dickerson combined to sack Lynch on third down and 10.
The UCLA offense would run the clock down to 0:45 before punting it back to Memphis for one final drive.
Junior cornerback Fabian Moreau tackled redshirt senior receiver Keiwone Malone in bounds as the clock expired and the Bruins escaped. Again.
If last week was a wake-up call, this was an alarm siren. Fortunately for UCLA, 2-0 is 2-0.
Compiled by Jordan Lee, Bruin Sports senior staff.