PASADENA, Calif. — Watching the No. 24 UCLA Bruins play the North Carolina Central Eagles was like watching a video game. Long completions, gaping holes for rushing, and wall-like defense. They exhibited complete dominance in a 59-7 win.
So, what can be taken away from a game where everything went the Bruins’ way against an opponent they were favored to beat by around 36 points? Well, the Dante Moore era is here.
When Moore took the first snap against the Eagles, it was his first as a starter at the Rose Bowl. The reason that moment had not come sooner was that quarterback Chase Garbers started the Bruins’ season opener. But two games later, Moore’s success earned him a first home start against the Eagles.
Instantly, Moore fired up the Bruins fans in attendance with a play-action pass to receiver Kam Brown for a 67-yard touchdown. In his first start in one of the crown jewels of college football, he only needed one play to win the hearts of many Bruins fans.
Moore needed just half a quarter to put the game away. He made another big throw later in the first quarter, finding receiver J. Michael Sturdivant in the endzone for a 30-yard touchdown. After that, the Bruins were up 21-0 with 7:38 left on the clock in the first quarter.
Moore displayed outstanding poise in the few moments he was challenged by the Eagles’ defense. He made well-placed throws under pressure, taking hits like a veteran despite being 18 years old.
Moore finished with 182 passing yards on eight-of-12 completions and two touchdowns.
Whether or not head coach Chip Kelley confirms Moore as the starter is still to be determined. Either way, the Bruins will likely employ multiple quarterbacks. And doing so could give the Bruins an upper hand in an all-important matchup against the No. 12 Utah Utes on Sept. 23.
With over five minutes left in the first quarter against the Eagles, the Bruins used quarterback Collin Schlee in a zone-read, and he scored a 57-yard touchdown up the left sideline, giving the Bruins a 28-0 lead.
Schlee’s rushing ability adds another layer of depth to a potent Bruins offense. Combine that with Moore’s talents and a strong one-two running back punch of Carson Steele and T.J. Harden, and the Bruins look difficult to slow down. Do not forget superstar transfer Studivant, who has 219 yards and two touchdowns in three games.
The outlook looks good for the Bruins, as their offense is showing no signs of weakness. But the game against the Utes is a challenge like no other they have faced this year. With an inexperienced quarterback at the helm, the Bruins have a tall task ahead. But Moore’s experienced-looking poise and an excellent supporting cast, with unexpected layers between, could help the Bruins continue thriving.