PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Heralded freshman Josh Rosen passed for 351 yards and three touchdowns in a stellar debut for UCLA, leading the No. 13 Bruins to a 34-16 victory over Virginia on Saturday.
Thomas Duarte, Devin Fuller and defensive tackle Kenny Clark caught scoring passes from the 18-year-old Rosen, who went 28 for 35 with several stunning throws and no turnovers in an auspicious first game at the Rose Bowl.
The nation’s top quarterback recruit stepped in for three-year starter Brett Hundley with remarkable poise, and the Bruins racked up 503 total yards to beat Virginia easily.
Matt Johns passed for 238 yards for the Cavaliers, who didn’t reach the end zone until Taquan Mizzell’s TD catch with 3:29 left in an ugly opener for embattled coach Mike London.
Linebacker Myles Jack rushed for a touchdown, and the 310-pound Clark nimbly hauled in a TD pass late in the third quarter to cap the Bruins’ strong offensive performance. Everything was managed splendidly by Rosen, the Los Angeles-area product who capitalized on nearly every opportunity in offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s scheme.
On his first snap, Rosen put a long play-action pass perfectly onto Kenneth Walker III’s hands with nobody between him and the end zone – but the backup receiver dropped it. UCLA’s first drive fizzled, but Rosen completed seven straight throws to close the first quarter, including a short TD pass to Fuller.
Rosen then hit Duarte for a gorgeous 30-yard TD pass midway through the second quarter, dropping the ball over the defensive back’s shoulder and directly into his sprinting receiver’s outstretched hands.
UCLA took control with an 85-yard drive in the third quarter capped by the first two runs from Jack, the star linebacker in his third season of moonlighting as a short-yardage running back. Rosen marched the Bruins 67 yards moments later, rolling out and hitting Clark in stride for the junior’s first score.
Jerry Neuheisel took over with 9:40 to play, and the Rose Bowl crowd of 68,615 roared in appreciation for Rosen, who completed his final nine passes.
Freshman tailback Soso Jamabo rushed for 79 yards for UCLA, and returning Pac-12 rushing champion Paul Perkins had 9.
Johns went 9 for 20 in the second half as Virginia’s offense fizzled in the school’s second-ever trip to California. Mizzell caught eight passes for 100 yards, but the Cavaliers have lost six of seven dating to last season – and they must face Notre Dame and Boise State later this month.
UCLA played without defensive back Ishmael Adams and offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. Adams is suspended indefinitely after his arrest last weekend, and Klemm is serving a two-game suspension stemming from an investigation into recruiting practices.