Kevin Prince passed for 176 yards and a touchdown in his college debut, UCLA's defense held San Diego State in check after a shaky start and the Bruins continued their domination of the Aztecs with a 33-14 victory Saturday.
Prince, who became just the second freshman to start a season opener for UCLA, completed 18 of 29 passes with two interceptions. He also lost a fumble in his first game in two years.
Prince is a redshirt freshman who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of the season opener as a high school senior two years ago. He beat out Kevin Craft, last year's starter, in spring practice.
The Aztecs scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and got seven first downs and 161 yards in the first quarter. They managed only four first downs and 116 yards in total offense after that.
UCLA has a 21-0-1 record against San Diego State and is 15-0 since the schools renewed their rivalry in 1984 after a 50-year hiatus. Only three of those 15 games were decided by less than two touchdowns.
The game was played despite a wildfire that has burned in the nearby Angeles National Forest for nearly two weeks. Officials decided Thursday to play the game based on information from local air-quality officials and Pasadena city fire and health authorities.
The Bruins, playing under second-year coach Rick Neuheisel, are trying to bounce back from a 4-8 season last year. The Aztecs, 2-10 a year ago, are playing under first-year coach Brady Hoke.
San Diego State's Ryan Lindley passed for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter, but wound up 18 of 45 for 238 yards and three interceptions -- all by sophomore safety Rahim Moore.
Both teams scored on their first two possessions to leave San Diego State with a 14-10 lead -- a rather surprising development considering UCLA ranked 116th out of the 119 major college teams in total offense last year while San Diego State was 117th.
Lindley threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Kawulok to cap a 69-yard drive following the opening kickoff, and a 78-yard bomb to Vincent Brown on a third-and-10 play. The Bruins got a 49-yard field goal from Kai Forbath and a 12-yard scoring run by freshman Johnathan Franklin on the first play following Terrence Austin's 65-yard kickoff return.
UCLA went ahead for good on a 29-yard touchdown run by Derrick Coleman with 5:30 left in the second quarter. Prince threw a 6-yard scoring pass to Austin with 1:42 left before halftime for a 23-14 halftime lead. Forbath's conversion after Coleman's TD was blocked by Leon McFadden.
Forbath kicked a 50-yard field goal late in the third quarter to extend UCLA's lead to 26-14.
UCLA put the game away when Jerzy Siewierski blocked Lane Yoshida's 35-yard field goal attempt in the final minute of the third quarter and Alterraun Verner scooped the ball up and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to complete the scoring. The Aztecs' threat was set up by Luke Laolagi's 27-yard interception return to the UCLA 23-yard line.