With a minute and a half left in the game, it did not matter what UCLA had done up until that point. It had lost the lead to ASU.
UCLA got the lead after being down early but lost it late. Then the Bruins were able to respond to the adversity and kick a field goal as time expired to win 45-43.
Coach Jim Mora said being down early was a true test for his team.
“I just believe firmly the only way you really truly get better is to find yourself in some adverse situations and fight through them,” Mora said. “We did that today on the road in a hostile environment, and I was really proud of our guys.”
UCLA lost its lead when ASU freshman running back D.J. Foster caught a seven-yard touchdown to put ASU up 43-42.
Hundley walked onto the field and had a chance to put the game away.
Mora said he was planning on a field goal. Hundley led a controlled, calculated drive to set up freshman kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn.
“In that situation you got to be even calmer,” Hundley said. “Everything is going so fast, but you have to be the one out there leading the troops and just taking it easy and making sure you’re comfortable and getting the ball where it needs to go.”
He said it also came down to trust. He trusted his receiver to catch and his linemen to block. That trust led to the Bruins being able to march down the field to win.
When Fairbairn got ready to kick, Mora said he had no doubt that Fairbairn was going to knock it through.
At the start of the game, it seemed that the Bruins were not going to have a chance to win late in the game.
Due to a fumbled punt and a sluggish first drive by the offense, they found themselves down 14-0.
After only running three offense plays, Hundley and the Bruins offense needed to make up some ground. And they responded by putting up two unanswered touchdowns to get back in the game.
When UCLA was down 14 points, its strongest offensive weapon, redshirt senior running back Johnathan Franklin, had not even touched the ball yet.
Franklin had to make an impact to get the offense going. He made his impact by breaking off a 23-yard run to kick start the Bruins offense.
The Bruins were able to score a touchdown a couple plays later to cut the lead to 14-7.
“When our offense went out there and put the drive together to get us to 14-7, there was just a sense of confidence on our sideline,” Mora said. “It was great.”
Going into this game, both teams knew what a victory would mean for the Pac-12 South title. The Bruins have some big games ahead, but Mora said the win against ASU was key for a chance to compete in the Pac-12 Championship game.
“I don’t want to say that it would have ended it, but it would have made it extremely hard for us,” Mora said. “I just knew we had to win to stay in it.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org