PASADENA, Calif. -- It wasn't 72 yards and it wasn't the first play of the season, but 2013 got off to a pretty good start for Brett Hundley and UCLA.
Hundley completed 22-of-33 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 60 yards and two scores -- including another long first-drive rushing touchdown -- as the Bruins opened their season with a 58-20 win over Nevada on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
Last season, Hundley sprinted for a 72-yard touchdown run against Rice on his very first play from scrimmage as a redshirt freshman.
This year, it took eight plays, but Hundley found himself again in the end zone with a 37-yard touchdown run that set the tone for a big rushing performance and big UCLA win.
The Bruins piled up 647 yards of total offense, including 345 on the ground, as they steamrolled a Nevada defense that wore down as the game wore on.
"It was fun, it was exciting -- I don't care who were playing or where I've been, I'm nervous as hell the first one," UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "I don't want to open the Christmas presents and get coal. I have all these expectations, and then you open the presents and it's like, 'Oh, I got socks and underwear, mom?' I was happy - the kids stayed focused and into it the whole game."
The main question entering the season for the Bruins was how would they replace the school's all-time leading rusher, Johnathan Franklin. They answered it in resounding fashion, rushing for 345 yards on 47 carries as Jordon James led the way with 155 yards and a score on 21 carries and Paul Perkins added 55 yards on five carries. While the scoreboard did not reflect it, UCLA had 172 rushing yards in the first half and 173 in the second as the balanced attack worked.
"It's just confidence," James said of his improved play. "I have more confidence, I'm more mature now. I feel like I just understand the ins and outs of college football now."
Nevada coach Brian Polian said, "We simply need to do a better job. I think towards the end of the ballgame, frankly, the defense was physically worn out."
Despite the rushing success, UCLA led just 17-13 at the half after a long Nevada touchdown drive that culminated in a short Cody Fajardo touchdown run. But the Bruins stormed out of the half with three third-quarter touchdowns to bury the Wolf Pack.
Hundley again sparked the Bruins with his feet, opening second-half scoring with a 11-yard rushing touchdown.
After stuffing Nevada for minus-4 yards on three plays on the ensuing drive, UCLA scored again as Phillip Ruhl scooped up a blocked punt by Kenny Orjioke and ran it back four yards for the score.
James added a 26-yard touchdown run with just over four minutes left in the third quarter to put UCLA up 37-13.
"The one thing I keep reiterating is that was a whole new defense, new defensive coordinator, so we really didn't have much to study," Hundley said. "The first half we had to see what the defense was doing, get a feel for them. Second half, we made our adjustments and then we were off to the races from there."
Mora said, "I was happy with the way we came out of the huddle in the second half, both offensively and defensively. The blocked punt was a huge momentum changer for us."
The UCLA rushing game was good early, with James leading the way with 108 of the Bruins' 172 yards, but the team lacked the passing pop that highlighted Hundley's freshman season.
Hundley was 10 of 17 for 111 yards in the first half, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Shaquelle Evans, who led the Bruins with 45 first-half receiving yards.
"I thought that he looked very poised, very under control," Mora said of Hundley, who set myriad school records last year. "A lot of that was the offensive line was not letting people get closer to him. He did a good job with his legs as well. He was rolling out and tried to square up, and he had some green grass in front of him where he could've run it, but he's got to learn the right mix."
The UCLA defense bent for much of the half before breaking with less than 20 seconds left.
After allowing just two field goals on Nevada's first four drives, the Bruins let the Wolf Pack march down the field to complete an 11-play, 81-yard drive to close out the first half. Fajardo, who finished 19-for-32 for 164 yards and added 106 rushing yards and two rushing scores, dived it in from the 1-yard line to cut the UCLA lead to four.
NOTES: UCLA had a spectacular 7.8 yards per rush on 22 attempts in the first half. ... The Bruins, who led the countries in penalties last year and finished with 12 on Saturday for 93 yards, had just four penalties for 33 yards in the first half. ... The Wolf Pack had a mammoth edge in possession time in the first half with nearly 19 minutes to UCLA's 11.