PASADENA, Calif. – In his first game against his former neighborhood college, Myles Jack achieved two accomplishments not seen at UCLA — or in college football — for nearly a decade.
The former Bellevue High standout, who usually starts as an outside linebacker,ran for four touchdowns to lead the Bruins’ 41-31 victory over Washington on Friday night at the Rose Bowl.
Those four touchdowns were the most scored by any UCLA freshman in a single game, and the most since Maurice Jones-Drew scored a school-record five against the Huskies in 2004.
In addition, Jack became the first defensive player to score four touchdowns in 10 years.
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“He’s amazing,” UCLA wide receiver Devin Lucien said with emphasis. “Myles Jack is the greatest athlete in the world. Myles Jack is the man.”
Jack, who started visiting the UW campus every day during his sophomore year at Bellevue,combined good acceleration with a low center of gravity to generate strong momentum.
“You see how hard he runs,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora said. “He gets the extra yards.”
On his first touchdown, an 8-yard run with 2 minutes, 38 seconds gone in the game, Jack carried both teammate sand opponents into the end zone. But he set up his second on an unusual 24-yard run.
UW’s Tre Watson forced Jack to fumble but the ball rolled forward for about 20 yards. The Huskies’ Shaq Thompson tried to secure it but it slipped out of his grasp. The Bruins’ Brandon Willis finally recovered the ball at UW’s 25-yard line.
Two plays later, Jack burst through right guard for his second touchdown with 4:18 left in the first quarter. UW tried to stand him up at the goal line to keep Jack from scoring his third touchdown 2:55 into the second quarter. The tactic failed.
Jack perhaps made his biggest offensive contribution in the third period, after the Huskies narrowed their deficit to 27-24 on Cyler Myles’ 1-yard pass to Austin Seferian-Jankins.
On the ensuing drive, Jack converted two third-down opportunities before scoring on a 2-yard run that extended UCLA’s lead to 34-24 with 6:44 left in the quarter.
Jack rushed for 60 yards, 36 in the first quarter. He also made five tackles and deflected one pass for the game.
“It’s quite a burden,” Mora said. “He had 12 carries tonight. You combine that with all the defensive snaps he played, that’s hard. He plays on (special) teams, too.
As a result, Mora feels reluctant to rely on Jack’s offensive potential.
“Myles is a weapon,” Mora said. “But you just can’t go crazy with him because if you do, then his effectiveness on both sides of the ball begins to decline.
“It’s kind of a dance. You’ve got to decide how much you can use him without hampering his ability to be effective doing what we’re asking him to do. He’s an outstanding linebacker. He’s as good a linebacker as you’re going to find in America for a freshman.”
Nevertheless, Mora is willing to dance.
“We’re going to use him,” the coach said. “He’s 18. He recovers quickly. He’s got a big heart and he wants his team to win.”