PASADENA, Calif. — New Mexico State coach Doug Martin knew his team faced long odds against an inspired opponent on a hallowed field.
He still emerged from the Aggies’ latest blowout loss with a few reasons to be optimistic.
Brett Hundley passed for 280 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 13 UCLA honored late receiver Nick Pasquale throughout its 59-13 victory Saturday night.
Jordon James rushed for a career-best 164 yards and two scores as UCLA (3-0) racked up a school-record 692 yards while routing the overmatched Aggies (0-4) in its first home game since Pasquale was hit by a car and killed two weeks ago.
New Mexico State has been beaten by a combined 201-62 this season. Martin chose to be encouraged by solid play from two quarterbacks and opportunistic defensive plays to force three UCLA turnovers in the red zone.
“Our kids played their hearts out,” Martin said. “We were just a little overmatched, especially up front. But that’s a really good football team we played, and I thought we played as hard as we could.”
Freshman King Davis III passed for 48 yards in his first start for New Mexico State, which got $550,000 to visit Pasadena as a 42-point underdog for the schools’ first meeting. Brandon Betancourt rushed for a late touchdown in his first start for the Aggies, who have lost 15 straight games.
Andrew McDonald, who lost his starting job to Davis this week, took over in the third quarter after Davis left with a possible concussion. McDonald threw a 33-yard TD pass to Adam Shapiro in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout.
“I thought both (quarterbacks) played really well,” Martin said. “King was under duress tonight, but he moved the offense well. Andrew came in and played well. We’ve just got to get more big plays and get a little more consistent.”
Martin said Davis’ health will be evaluated before he picks a starter for next week’s visit from San Diego State.
The Aggies started out splendidly on defense. After Steven Manfro returned the opening kickoff to the New Mexico State 16, Davis Cazares recovered James’ fumble at the New Mexico State 5 on the Bruins’ second play. Hundley then threw an interception to Cazares at the Aggies 1 on UCLA’s second drive.
“Our defense all year long has been fantastic at (forcing turnovers),” said Martin, whose Aggies already have matched last season’s total of nine takeaways in their first four games. “If they can keep that up, it’s going to give us a chance to win some games.”
UCLA settled down after an emotional early tribute to Pasquale, including a 10-man play on the Bruins’ opening snap.
The Rose Bowl crowd waved blue towels and wore T-shirts emblazoned with his No. 36. Pasquale’s parents and brother joined coach Jim Mora and athletic director Dan Guerrero for a ceremony after the first quarter on the field near where his name and jersey number was painted on the hallowed turf.
“It’s amazing to honor him like that,” said Manfro, who caught a TD pass and rushed for another score. “This game, this whole season is for him.”
Devin Fuller and Shaq Evans also caught scoring passes from Hundley for the Bruins, who blew out the Aggies even while committing three turnovers inside the New Mexico State 5.
Manfro also rushed for a score as UCLA took a 45-0 lead through three quarters, giving the Bruins 83 consecutive points after scoring the final 38 in last week’s comeback victory at Nebraska. Malcolm Jones rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns for UCLA, which has scored 50 points in consecutive home games for the first time since 1973.
“Any time you have three turnovers in the red zone and some penalties, you’re not happy about that,” UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “It was an inconsistent night for us offensively.”
With last week’s win at Nebraska and this blowout, the Bruins embraced Mora’s desire for his team to play in a way that would honor Pasquale. The entire UCLA roster arrived at the Rose Bowl wearing the same No. 36 T-shirts that were sold to fans, with all proceeds going to the Nick Pasquale Foundation.
The Bruins finally started the rout when James scored from 4 yards out late in the first quarter. Manfro added another score early in the second, turning a short reception into a 20-yard TD with a slick move.
Ishmael Adams returned an interception 52 yards to end New Mexico State’s first good drive. Star Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr got credit for his first sack of the season when he simply took the ball out of Davis’ cocked hand late in the second quarter.
New Mexico State’s Anthony Edwards was ejected in the third quarter with a targeting penalty for a head hit on Evans. Moments later, Hundley threw his second interception at the goal line.
But UCLA kept rolling, with James carrying the ball three times for 55 yards and a touchdown in just 32 seconds late in the third quarter, putting the Bruins ahead 45-0.
New Mexico St. 0 0 0 13–13<cTypeface:>
UCLA 7 24 14 14–59
UCLA-James 4 run (Fairbairn kick), 2:34.
UCLA-Manfro 20 pass from Hundley (Fairbairn kick), 13:46.
UCLA-Manfro 12 run (Fairbairn kick), 9:28.
UCLA-FG Fairbairn 38, 2:39.
UCLA-Fuller 21 pass from Hundley (Fairbairn kick), :39.
UCLA-Evans 7 pass from Hundley (Fairbairn kick), 2:58.
UCLA-James 19 run (Fairbairn kick), 1:24.
NMSU-Shapiro 33 pass from McDonald (M.Johnson kick), 14:24.
UCLA-Jones 3 run (Fairbairn kick), 11:31.
NMSU-Betancourt 4 run (kick failed), 7:51.
UCLA-Jones 3 run (M.Johnson kick), 4:38.
First downs 21 39
Rushes-yards 41-187 45-298
Passing 146 394
Comp-Att-Int 15-26-1 35-49-2
Return Yards 25 107
Punts-Avg. 8-34.8 0-0.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 3-35 15-138
Time of Possession 30:13 29:47
RUSHING–New Mexico St., Betancourt 18-95, Davis III 12-51, Morrison 9-45, McDonald 2-(minus 4). UCLA, James 19-164, Hundley 6-33, Ry.Davis 4-31, Jones 6-25, Perkins 5-23, Manfro 2-14, Harris 1-6, Fuller 1-4, Team 1-(minus 2).
PASSING–New Mexico St., McDonald 9-13-0-98, Davis III 6-13-1-48. UCLA, Hundley 23-35-2-280, Neuheisel 9-11-0-96, Fafaul 3-3-0-18.
RECEIVING–New Mexico St., J.Brown 3-31, Shapiro 2-42, Bowen 2-27, Matthews 2-15, Scoggins 2-14, Bergstrom 2-11, Morrison 1-4, Betancourt 1-2. UCLA, Fuller 4-48, Perkins 4-36, Evans 4-32, Manfro 3-53, Payton 2-37, Lucien 2-30, Bell 2-28, Mazzone 2-28, Jones 2-26, Andrews 2-25, Hernandez 2-15, Duarte 2-11, Ry.Davis 1-9, Scott 1-8, Harris 1-5, Sweet 1-3.