TEMPE, Ariz. — Brett Hundley came home for the first time as UCLA quarterback, and, just barely, left a winner.
The freshman, playing a few miles from where he grew up, threw for four touchdowns, then drove the Bruins (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) downfield to set up Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 33-yard field goal as the game ended Saturday to give UCLA a 45-43 victory over Arizona State.
“That is just what this offense does,” Hundley said. “We play fast and do what we have to do and only stop ourselves. So as long as we are doing what we’ve got to do and have fun out there, we can put points on the board.”
The Sun Devils (5-3, 3-2) had rallied from nine down in the fourth quarter to go up 43-42 on Taylor Kelly’s 7-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Foster with 1:33 to play. The way UCLA’s offense was rolling, that was plenty of time.
“The game is on the line and you have to drive down the field,” Hundley said. “You have to be real sound in what you are doing and be confident in what you are doing. That is what we were.”
Neither team knew it in the postgame locker rooms, but Arizona was in the process of completing an upset of USC. That left both UCLA and Arizona State a half-game behind the first-place Trojans in the Pac-12 South.
“I am not going to say that if we lost it would have ended it,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said, “but it would have made it extremely hard for us because Arizona State would be 4-1 (in the conference), they would have been 6-2 (overall) and we would have been 5-3. I just knew we had to win it to stay in it.”
Hundley, who starred for Chandler (Ariz.) High School, completed 19 of 31 for 274 yards and four touchdowns. He threw his 18th touchdown pass of the season, breaking the freshman record of 17 set by Tommy Maddox in 1990. Hundley became the first quarterback to pass for more than 200 yards this season against Arizona State, playing with a battered defense.
Johnathan Franklin rushed for 164 yards, leaving him 20 yards shy of the UCLA career rushing record.
Damien Thigpen put UCLA ahead 42-33 with his second TD pass of the day from Hundley, a 20-yarder with 9:01 to play.
But the Sun Devils scored the next 10 to regain the lead.
Kelly completed 25 of 35 for 315 yards and four touchdowns with one costly interception that led to a UCLA touchdown that put the Bruins ahead 21-17 at the half. Foster caught seven passes for 107 yards and rushed for 61 yards on 13 carries.
There was more than 1,000 yards of offense — 535 for Arizona State, 486 for UCLA.
“We just didn’t show up and play defense today,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. “That’s the difference. You can’t win football games playing defense like that.”
Kelly’s 31-yard burst up the middle set up the go-ahead touchdown on a bright afternoon in the desert.
The Sun Devils looked to nurse a 17-14 lead into halftime with the ball on their 4-yard line and 1:19 to go. But they went with a pass play and Kelly, with UCLA’s Cassius Marsh all over him, threw an ill-advised floater that Dalton Hilliard intercepted at the Arizona State 5. Franklin scored on the next play and UCLA led for the first time, 21-17.
Kelly said Marsh wrapped him up as he was trying to throw the ball away rather than take a safety.
“I was trying to throw it at my running back’s feet, but the guy hit me,” Kelly said. “So I was trying to throw him off, but I couldn’t pull it down.”
Arizona State jumped to a 14-0 lead with the game barely five minutes old.
The first touchdown came after UCLA’s Steven Manfro appeared to lose Josh Hubner’s soaring punt in the bright sun. Manfro muffed the catch and Deveron Carr recovered at the Bruins’ 13. Two plays later, Kelly threw 7 yards to Kevin Ozier for the score with 13:13 still left in the opening quarter.
The Sun Devils mounted a 70-yard drive on their next possession. Marion Grice, who also had two TD catches, scored from the 2 to make it 14-0.
But the Bruins responded with two long scoring drives.
Franklin carried five times for 39 yards on a 13-play, 75-yard drive for UCLA’s first score. His 3-yard run cut the lead to 14-7 with 6:24 still to go in the first. The drive was aided when Arizona State’s Junior Onyeali shoved Hundley after the quarterback had released the ball and was called for roughing the passer. The 15-yard penalty came on a third-down incompletion.
Onyeali left the game a short time later with an apparent shoulder injury. The same type of injury knocked him out of the previous week’s loss to Oregon.
The Sun Devils already were without one of their best players, defensive end Will Sutton, with a bone bruise in his knee.
Hubner’s career-long 68-yard punt rolled dead at the 2, and the Bruins responded with a 10-play, 98-yard drive — their longest of the season. Hundley threw over the middle 15 yards to freshman Devin Fuller and it was 14-14 with 1:05 left in the quarter.