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Brett Hundley gives UCLA happy ending, new beginning in Sun Bowl win

Brett Hundley rolls up 387 yards (226 passing, 161 rushing) and four TDs in 42-12 win over Virginia Tech. Now, will he return next season?

December 31, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) celebrates with teammates after a short touchdown run in the first quarter.
Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) celebrates with teammates after… (Victor Calzada / Associated…)

EL PASO — That, as the folks in the industry say, is a wrap. UCLA labored, even struggled at times, but in the end the Bruins had a glitzy Hollywood ending for the 2013 season.

Quarterback Brett Hundley dipped and dodged on the field and off, leaving defenders in his wake along with the idea that he just might hop, skip and jump into the NFL draft.

Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt appeared to be auditioning for the lead in the next Incredible Hulk movie. Zumwalt Smash?

Linebacker Myles Jack scored another touchdown, this time while playing defense.

And a 42-12 victory over Virginia Tech on Tuesday in the Hyundai Sun Bowl left the Bruins (10-3) with their first 10-win season since 2005.

The sequel, the Bruins think, could be better.

"To see what we did this year, with 10 victories playing the schedule we had, it's scary to think we can be a lot better next year," Hundley said.

The Bruins announced their 2014 intentions with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break open the game after leading 14-7 through three quarters.

Where this will lead is open for interpretation. The consensus among the Bruins was that they were headed in an upward direction. UCLA fans will certainly demand that.

"I think the expectations that matter are our own," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said.

Which are?

"We need to get to a Rose Bowl," Mora said. "We need to get to and win a Rose Bowl."

Others were reaching even higher.

"I don't think there is a bar for us," receiver Devin Lucien said. "We've got to continue what we started this season. The national title is our motivation."

That is certainly part of Hundley's checklist.

"When you think of a legacy, you think about Super Bowls and national championships, Rose Bowls, something where you put your stamp on the program," Hundley said.

Whether this was Hundley's final stamp remains to be seen. A redshirt sophomore, he is eligible to declare for the NFL draft, a decision he will make in the coming days or weeks.

The Bruins could start the season as a top-10 team and go from there . . . if Hundley returns.

"That speaks for itself," Lucien said.

Anyone who says otherwise needs only to look at the statistics sheet from Tuesday. Hundley accounted for 387 of UCLA's 447 yards — 161 rushing and 226 passing — against a defense that ranked in the national top 10 in nearly every category.

The Hokies (8-5) came into the game allowing 23 points per game. They gave up 28 in the fourth quarter.

In the first half, Hundley beat Virginia Tech with his legs. He capped the Bruins' first drive by scrambling for a seven-yard touchdown, leaving Virginia Tech's Dadi Nicolas looking bewildered. Hundley took off again in the second quarter, going 86 yards for a 14-7 halftime lead.

"We couldn't corral him," Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said.

In the second half, Hundley was a more polished quarterback. A field goal cut the lead to 14-10. Hundley answered with an 85-yard drive on which he completed all six of his passes for 80 yards, setting up a five-yard touchdown run by Paul Perkins on the second play of the fourth quarter.

"We had to respond," Hundley said. "When we get it going, our offense is truly special."

They had it going. Hundley threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.

Virginia Tech couldn't keep up. Zumwalt, Jack and the rest of the UCLA defense made sure of that.

Zumwalt clobbered just about everything within his reach. That included Virginia Tech's starting quarterback, Logan Thomas, in the second quarter. Zumwalt was flagged for a personal foul; Thomas left the game and did not return.

His replacement, Mark Leal, was equally harassed by Zumwalt and others. Leal had two passes intercepted.

Jack, who scored seven touchdowns as a running back this season, returned one interception 23 yards for a touchdown. Zumwalt lumbered 43 yards with the other, setting up another touchdown.

Virginia Tech completed 15 of 36 passes and finished with 319 mostly benign yards.

"This is just the beginning," defensive back Ishmael Adams said. "It was a satisfying season, but we're not entirely satisfied yet."

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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