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Johnathan Franklin's toughness impresses UCLA coaches

The running back plays with a sore calf and hand but has 79 yards in 22 carries in UCLA's 21-14 win over Utah. Franklin also scores on a three-yard touchdown run.

October 13, 2012|By Chris Foster

Johnathan Franklin has had bigger days.

He opened the season with back-to-back 200-yard games. He went over 100 yards against Houston, Colorado and California. But the 79 yards he churned in a 21-14 victory over Utah on Saturday impressed his coaches.

"He's a tough running back," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "He's not just a guy who carries the ball eight times and needs to break a 70-yarder to get near 100 yards. He can be an every-down back. He ran his tail off against a really good defense today."

Franklin was playing with a sore calf and hand, but still carried the ball 22 times. His longest run was 18 yards, which came on the Bruins' third-quarter touchdown drive. His next three runs produced less, but meant more.

Franklin slammed into the line for four yards on a fourth-and-one play at the Utah 13-yard line. He slithered for six yards on the next play. He then scored on a three-yard touchdown run for a 21-7 UCLA lead.

"Everybody knows he was in this game very beat up," Coach Jim Mora said. "His intensity, heart and spirit, your team just feeds off that. You like to have the ball in his hands."

Star man

UCLA offensive linemen spent the week answering questions about Utah nose tackle Star Lotulelei, who was a handful against USC last week. Turns out, the Bruins had no problems.

Center Jake Brendel and guard Xavier Su'a-Filo were able to handle him. Su'a-Filo and Lotulelei were already acquainted, having known each other as high school players in Utah.

"We got to the line on the first play and kind of nodded at each other and said, 'What's up,'" Su'a-Filo said.

End of conversation. Lotulelei finished with only two tackles.

Quarterback audible

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley got off to a shaky start. He felt a twinge in his knee on the first play and said "it kind of locked up" on the second play. Hundley ditched the ball, called time out and went to the sideline to get checked.

"I don't know what it was," Hundley said. "It felt good after the timeout."

It didn't seem to hamper him. Hundley completed 15 of 21 passes for 183 yards and ran for 68 yards. His 64-yard touchdown pass to Shaquelle Evans was his 14th touchdown pass this season, the most by a UCLA quarterback since Drew Olson threw for 34 in 2005.

Oops

A gaffe by Steven Manfro cost the Bruins on Saturday. Manfro muffed a punt in the first quarter, with Utah's Ryan Lacy recovering the ball in the end zone to tie the score, 7-7.

Mora said Utah punter Sean Sellwood "just bombed that thing. Steven was looking right up into the sun and made an error of judgment. It was a tough catch that he shouldn't have tried to make."

Goines leaves

UCLA tackle Simon Goines left the game in the second half after injuring his left knee. Mora said Goines would likely have an MRI exam.

Jeff Baca moved from right guard to right tackle and Alberto Cid took Baca's spot.

Bruins wide receiver Jerry Johnson did not play because of sore ribs.

Wilson starts

Utah quarterback Travis Wilson, a freshman from San Clemente High, made his first college start and completed 23 of 33 passes for 220 yards.

Wilson completed three of six passes for 62 yards on the Utes' fourth-quarter touchdown drive. He also had a 23-yard reception on a gadget play during the drive.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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