There’s always something bittersweet about finishing a season you expected a lot more from with a win in a bowl game you didn’t want to go to, but you won’t hear too much complaining from UCLA players after beating Virginia Tech 42-12 in the Sun Bowl, as Brett Hundley put on quite a show that also might be his last for the Bruins.
The Sophomore quarterback threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns, but it was more impressive seeing him on the ground, finishing with 161 yards (out of the team’s 197 on the day) and two more scores. He ran for 86 yards and a score in the second quarter to give UCLA a 14-7 lead. That’s the longest offensive play ever by a UCLA player in bowl game, and it’s also the longest running play in a bowl game by any player since Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas had a 91-yard Rush TD in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012. Hundley fell short of breaking the record for a UCLA quarterback and rushing yards, missing out on John Sciarra’s 174.
Virginia Tech, not a team with a lot of offensive prowess to sell, held on defensively for about a half before Hundley’s arm became too much for them, and Myles Jack returned an interception for a touchdown as well. The Hokies went with Mark Leal at quarterback for most of the game after Logan Thomas left the game with an injury in the second quarter. His numbers weren’t impressive, but things really fell apart after he left the field.
I guess he can run a little. He played well. He was poised. It’s the best game I’ve ever seen him play. He was unbelievable from start to finish. I liked the way we played in the second half. In the second half we blocked things up better. We got back to doing what we do best. We played with great tempo. We were not as uptight.
Hundley shared the MVP of the bowl game along with linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, a senior who will likely end up somewhere between the third and fifth round of the NFL draft. He finished with 10 tackles and also had an interception, returning it 43 yards before setting it up for a touchdown.
While Jim Mora knows there’s a good chance he’ll have to do without his star quarterback next season, it’s hard to ignore the change he’s made over the last two years. He is 19-8 as the head coach in Westwood, winning with the team their first bowl game since 2009. He lost the best offensive player on the team last season, so even though losing Hundley will be a blow, with him in charge UCLA are in good hands.
Virginia Tech are in a weird place right now. After so many years of being a 10-win team (or more), they’re seeing the ACC blow by them. The offense has been struggling lately under Frank Beamer, who can’t get his defense to keep his team in a BCS Bowl level anymore. It was a 21st consecutive bowl appearance for the Hokies, but not something they’d like to write home about.
Virginia Tech had its second-worst loss in a bowl game. Its worst was a 42-3 loss to North Carolina in the 1998 Gator Bowl. The 42 points the Hokies allowed were the second-most in a bowl game behind the 52 they gave up in a 52-49 loss to California in the 2003 Insight Bowl.