EUGENE, Ore. — There was no reason to celebrate.
UCLA Coach Jim Mora made that clear after seeing second-ranked Oregon pull away from the Bruins in the second half for a 42-14 victory Saturday.
There was no reason look back on consecutive weeks against the Ducks and No. 8 Stanford and feel good about the effort against the Pac-12’s two top teams.
“We didn’t come up here to play them close,” Mora said. “We didn’t come up here to give it the old college try. We came up here to win the game and we didn’t get it done.”
It went on and on. But the crux of the thesis boiled down to one thing.
“It’s time for UCLA to turn the page and do something different and win these games,” Mora said.
The No. 12 Bruins (5-2 overall, 2-2 in Pac-12) were close for three quarters. Oregon (8-0, 5-0) scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to gussy up the final score.
Running back Byron Marshall gained 133 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns. The last, a three-yard run with 8 minutes 47 seconds left, gave the Ducks a 35-14 lead and allowed Oregon fans at Autzen Stadium to exhale.
The Ducks had 325 yards rushing — 66 on a fake punt. UCLA’s linebackers contained quarterback Marcus Mariota’s running ability. But he completed 21 of 28 passes for 230 yards.
“We can play with them, as long as we do what we’re supposed to do,” quarterback Brett Hundley said. “We didn’t execute. We know we can play with anybody.”
Mora wants to go beyond simply playing with top teams.
“We are not after being close,” Mora said. “Losers can be close.”
The difference was obvious to Mora.
“We’ve got to get to the point as a football team where we play efficiently, where we don’t make mistakes at critical times,” Mora said.
The Bruins made only a few … but it was a few too many.
They fell for a fake punt in the first quarter. Rodney Hardrick sprinted to the UCLA eight-yard-line to set up a one-yard touchdown run by De’Anthony Thomas.
Hundley had two passes intercepted. Boseko Lokombo picked him off inside the 10-yard line. Avery Patterson’s interception set up an eight-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Bralon Addison in the fourth quarter.
“We are a team that is right there with Oregon,” safety Anthony Jefferson said. “We have all the pieces. We just have to find a way to put it together. We couldn’t capitalize on opportunities.”
They did in the first half.
Linebacker Myles Jack forced a fumble on the second play of the game. It set up a four-yard touchdown run by Hundley for a 7-0 UCLA lead.
Jack partially blocked a punt in the second quarter. Hundley cashed it in, tossing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Duarte to send the Bruins into halftime tied, 14-14.
“We weren’t satisfied to be 14-14 at half,” Mora said. “There are no moral victories in sports, not when you’re trying to be a champion.”
UCLA’s running game reappeared after a two-week sabbatical. The Bruins, playing with three freshmen on the offensive line, had 219 yards rushing. Paul Perkins had 93 and Malcolm Jones 58. Hundley had 58, including two third-down scrambles for first downs in the first half.
But Hundley did more damage to the Ducks defense with his legs than his arm. He threw for only 64 yards and appeared to not see defenders on the two passes that were intercepted.
“He wants be a great player, and we see progress and he wants to be better,” Mora said. “He has to shine in these type of games. Before people start talking about the Heisman, let’s do something.
“I’m not talking about Brett. I’m talking about us as a team.”