CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Even Matt Johns was surprised to hear his number called before halftime.
It came right after Virginia quarterback Greyson Lambert threw his second interception that was returned for a touchdown, putting the Cavaliers in a 21-3 deficit against seventh-ranked UCLA.
"I was surprised, but I couldn't let my teammates see that and I wasn't going to let them see that," Johnson said after a relief effort that left his teammates gushing.
UCLA ultimately won 28-20, but Johns' effort raised a question about whether there may be a quarterback switch in the works at Virginia.
"He was phenomenal," linebacker Henry Coley said after Johnson wrapped up a 13-for-22, 154-yard, two-touchdown day in his first real action. "He came in, he stepped up. He wore his big boy pants."
The accolades sounded a lot like what players and coaches said about Lambert before the season. That was before a tipped pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, a completed third-down pass was fumbled away, leading to a 75-yard fumble return touchdown. Then, he didn't see a defender who thought he knew what was coming, guessed right and intercepted another pass for a third defensive TD.
"They have a little bit of a tendency that Eric was clued into," Bruins coach Jim Mora Jr. said of linebacker Eric Kendricks, who waltzed 37 yards for the score. Virginia said a check into its history showed it was the first time since at least 1930 that the Cavaliers gave up three defensive scores.
As it turned out, that was what it took, along with one scoring drive led by heralded Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley for a critical touchdown in the third quarter.
Hundley, widely regarded as one of the nation's top quarterbacks, was harassed all day by Virginia's pressure defense, and made the biggest play of the day for UCLA with his feet. It came on a 6-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter when he overpowered safety Quin Blanding on a 6-yard TD run.
The Cavaliers, 21-point underdogs, had a first down at the Bruins 19 late in the game, but three consecutive running plays netted just two yards and irritated the fans, and linebacker Myles Jack disrupted Matt Johns' fourth-and-8 pass to Doni Dowling and it fell to the ground.