UCLA backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel threw two touchdown passes, including a 33-yarder to Jordan Payton with 3 minutes left, and the No. 12 Bruins avoided an upset with a 20-17 win over Texas on Saturday night.
The go-ahead score for the Bruins (3-0) came on the first play after Ishmael Adams' 58-yard punt return when he was helped by a crushing open-field block by Cameron Judge.
Neuheisel completed 23 of 30 passes for 178 yards after Brett Hundley injured his left elbow in the first quarter.
Texas (1-2), which started the game with a big blunder, had gone ahead when Tyrone Swoopes hit John Harris for an 8-yard TD with 5:13 left. The Longhorns then forced a fumble, but went three-and-out before punting the ball to Adams.
Swoopes threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns in his second start for concussion-plagued David Ash.
The Bruins got the ball to start both halves after Texas botched the opening coin toss.
UCLA won the coin toss and elected to defer its choice until the second half, then Texas said it wanted to go on defense. The referee then turned off his microphone and briefly said something to the Longhorns players after their decision.
When the Bruins unexpectedly got the ball to start the game, they got one first down before stalling at midfield and punting. On the opening-half possession they expected, they drove 75 yards on seven plays after halftime for a game-tying 3-yard TD pass from Neuheisel to Nate Iese.
After its go-ahead with just over 5 minutes left, the ensuring Texas kickoff went out of bounds, putting the Bruins at the 35 before a 30-yard pass on the next play to the other 35. But James Jordan was stripped by Steve Edmond, and the fumble recovered by Paul Boyette.
Texas went three-and-out, and took only 71 seconds off the clock. But the Bruins didn't need much time.
Paul Perkins had 126 yards on 24 carries for the Bruins, and caught five passes for 69 yards.
Longhorns fans in burnt orange were the majority in the announced crowd of 60,479 for the neutral site game played at the $1.2 billion Dallas Cowboys' home stadium, only three hours from their Austin campus and the site of the national championship game in four months.
But there were still a lot of empty seats a week after the Longhorns' 41-7 home loss to BYU that first-year Texas coach Charlie Strong described as embarrassing and humiliating.
Hundley got hurt at the end of an 11-yard run to convert a third-and-9 with just under 5 minutes left in the first quarter. He appeared to land awkwardly on his left arm when he reached down while being tackled at the Bruins 35.
Neuheisel took over in the middle of what was a 15-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Ka'imi Fairbairn's 47-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Fairbairn added a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, ending a string of seven consecutive drives that ended with punts - four by Texas and three by UCLA - after the Bruins' drive to start the second half.
UCLA GAME NOTES – vs. Texas 9/13/14
This is the fifth straight season in which UCLA has played a game in the state of Texas – 2013 Sun Bowl win over Virginia Tech; 2012 win at Rice; 2011 loss at Houston; 2010 win at Texas.
This evening’s start was the 30th of QB Brett Hundley’s career tying him with Gary Beban, 1965-67, for fifth on the all-time school quarterback start list.
QB Jerry Neuheisel’s three-yard scoring pass to Nate Iese on the first drive of the second half was the first touchdown pass of his career. All of Neuheisel’s totals are career bests. He completed 11 of 13 passes off the bench last season for a total of 124 yards and no interceptions or touchdowns.
RB Paul Perkins’ 58-yd rush on the first drive of the second half was a career long. His previous best was a 45-yard rush against Nevada in 2013. His first half reception extended his team-best reception streak to nine straight games.
Perkins recorded his first career 100-yard game this evening with an unofficial total of 126 yards on a career best 24 rushes.
UCLA is now 3-0 on the year and has opened the last two seasons with win streaks of three straight in 2012 and five straight in 2013
UCLA has a record of 18-6 in its last 24 games with losses to Stanford (3), Oregon, Arizona State and Baylor.
UCLA, under coach Mora, is 18-3 when it scores first in a game.
PK Ka’imi Fairbairn’s (who entered the game with 213 points) first quarter field goal pushed him past Gary Beban, 1965-67 (214 pts), and into 11th on the all-time UCLA scoring list. He entered the game with 213 points in his career. Maurice Jones-Drew is 10th on the list with 234 points.
Fairbairn’s first half field goal tied him for eighth on the all-time school career list (31) with Peter Boermeester, 1977-79. His 25-yard fourth quarter field goal moved him into sole possession of eighth with 32 field goals. Seventh place is held by Chris Sailer, 1995-98, who had 33 field goals in his career. Fairbairn has made 19 straight field goal attempts from 35 yard and in.
UCLA has posted a 10-1 record in non-conference play under coach Mora and has won its last seven in a row and all nine regular season matchups.
LB Eric Kendricks (who entered the game with 358 tackles) needed 11 tackles to tie Eric Turner, 1987-90, for fifth place on the all-time school list. Fourth on the list is Kenny Easley, 1977-80 with 374. Third is Spencer Havner, 2002-05, with 402.