PASADENA, Calif. -- Kevin Craft made the most of a second opportunity Saturday night, passing for 186 yards and a touchdown to lead unbeaten UCLA to a 23-9 victory over Kansas State.
Freshman Johnathan Franklin rushed for a career-best 119 yards on 23 carries and Kai Forbath kicked three field goals without a miss for the Bruins (3-0), who are off to their best start since 2005, when they won their first eight games under coach Karl Dorrell. They were 4-8 last season under first-year coach Rick Neuheisel.
Craft, filling in at quarterback for Kevin Prince, completed 13 of 24 passes with one interception including a game-clinching 51-yard scoring pass to Terrence Austin with 6:18 remaining. Prince, a redshirt freshman who started the Bruins' first two games, broke his jaw late in UCLA's 19-15 victory at Tennessee on Sept. 12 and is expected to be out two or three more weeks.
Craft, a senior, lost his job to Prince last spring. Craft passed for 2,341 yards and seven touchdowns with a school-record 20 interceptions while starting all 12 games for the Bruins last year, and heard mostly boos. In this game, he heard mostly cheers.
Carson Coffman completed 20 of 34 passes for 193 yards with two interceptions and was sacked six times for the Wildcats (1-2). Daniel Thomas, who became the first player to begin his Kansas State career with consecutive 100-yard rushing performances since Cornelius Davis accomplished the feat in 1966, was held to 54 yards on 15 carries.
After being held to one field goal in the first half, Kansas State moved 80 yards on 14 plays on their first possession of the third quarter, scoring on a 7-yard run by Thomas to trim UCLA's lead to 13-9. The conversion failed after a botched snap. Thomas carried eight times for 43 yards on the drive, which consumed nearly eight minutes.
Ryan Doerr pinned the Bruins deep in their territory with a 53-yard punt to the 4 yard line late in the third quarter, and after forcing a punt, the Wildcats got the ball back at the UCLA 41. But Josh Cherry missed a 40-yard field goal in the opening minute of the final period.
The Bruins then moved to the Kansas State 23 before Forbath connected from 40 yards, extending UCLA's lead to 16-9 with 9:55 remaining.
Kansas State moved into UCLA territory following the opening kickoff before Alterraun Verner intercepted a pass by Coffman at the Bruins 36-yard line. Craft's 16-yard completion to Nelson Rosario on a third-and-10 play triggered a 64-yard, 11-play drive that Franklin capped with a 3-yard run to give UCLA a 7-0 lead.
The Wildcats then drove into position for a 26-yard field goal by Cherry to draw within four points.
Craft's 18-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Moya on UCLA's second possession was nullified by an illegal man downfield, forcing the Bruins to settle for a 39-yard field goal by Forbath on the second play of the second quarter. Forbath added a 35-yarder later in the second quarter to make it 13-3, and that's how it stood at halftime.
The Bruins had another potential scoring chance in the second period, but Joshua Moore picked off Craft's long pass at the Kansas State 19-yard line.