Sunday, October 02, 2005

Were they TRYING to kill me?

I'll try to write a REAL blog later, but for now...since I need to go get ready for brunch with the family...THE REASON I HAVE NO VOICE THIS MORNING:

Bruins, Olson Finally Show Some Drive at End
Drew scores with 1:08 to play as UCLA escapes with a 21-17 victory over Washington to improve to 4-0.
By Lonnie White
Times Staff Writer

October 2, 2005

UCLA's undefeated season was in serious jeopardy late in the fourth quarter Saturday night against Washington at the Rose Bowl.

The Bruins, who struggled all game, trailed by three points and needed Drew Olson to do something that he has never done before: lead UCLA to a come-from-behind victory.

But that's exactly what the senior quarterback did as he rallied UCLA for a game-winning drive that gave the 20th-ranked Bruins a 21-17 victory to improve 4-0.

"Coming back in the second half was a total gut-check for us," said Olson, who completed 20 of 26 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.

"We just played better. We knew we had to make plays in the fourth quarter and that's what we did."

With 1:08 remaining, Maurice Drew, who was held to 33 yards rushing in 14 carries, scored the winning touchdown with a one-yard dive to cap an eight-play, 73-yard drive.

For Coach Karl Dorrell, winning UCLA's Pacific 10 Conference opener for the third consecutive year meant much more than his team's inconsistent play against the 1-4 Huskies.

"That was one of those games you learn a lot about yourself as a team and as a program," said Dorrell, whose team will face undefeated, No. 12 California next week. "We weren't playing well in the beginning of the game. Our defense was doing things sporadically, as were our offense and our special teams."

The Bruins, who defeated Oklahoma by 17 points the last time they played two weeks ago, basically stunk up the Rose Bowl in the first half, falling behind by 10 points.

• UCLA, which averaged nearly 50 points over the first three games, did not score a point over the first two quarters, gaining 104 yards in 30 offensive plays.

• Drew, who had a second-quarter punt return for a touchdown nullified because of an illegal block penalty on teammate Rodney Van, had 17 yards in seven attempts.

• Olson, second in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency before Saturday, completed nine of 18 passes for 77 yards and had his first two interceptions of the season.

• Washington, which averaged only 107.3 yards rushing over the first four games, had 100 on the ground at intermission.

The Huskies, who lost to Notre Dame, 36-17, last week, scored the game's first points — twice — in the opening quarter. Washington drove to the UCLA 19-yard line and Evan Knudson made a 36-yard field goal, but the drive was kept alive when Bruin safety Jarrad Page was penalized for roughing the passer.

Four plays later, the Huskies settled for the same points when on fourth-and-goal from the one, Knudson kicked an 18-yarder to give Washington a 3-0 lead with 4:56 remaining in the first quarter.

After UCLA's second consecutive punt, the Huskies again had success moving the ball on the Bruins. With quarterback Isaiah Stanback making plays with his arm and legs, Washington drove 60 yards in 10 plays to take a 10-0 lead on a 20-yard touchdown run by Kenny James. On the score, the entire left side of the Bruins' defense was blocked and Spencer Havner and Bruce Davis were unable to make a play.

"They were able to move on us, but we were fortunate to hold them to field goal attempts," said Page, who finished with six tackles, one forced fumble and a pass deflection.

"But we knew that we just had to keep playing hard. We gave up a couple of big plays but not a lot of points. We knew that our offense would kick into gear. We just had to hang in there until that happened."

Trailing by 10 at the start of the second half, UCLA caught a big break early in the third quarter when the Huskies' Anthony Russo fumbled a punt. The Bruins' Michael Norris recovered the football at the Washington 28 and Olson needed only three plays to find the end zone.

On first down, Olson completed a 24-yard pass to Joe Cowan and then a play later, he completed a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis to cut Washington's lead to 10-7.

The Huskies missed an opportunity to stretch their lead when Knutson missed a 28-yard field goal attempt wide right, but they didn't fail to score the next time they got close to the end zone.

After an official replay on an apparent fumble by Washington's James ruled that the Huskies had possession at the one, Stanback scored on a sneak to push their lead to 17-7 with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.

That's when UCLA responded. With Olson completing passes to a variety of receivers, the Bruins moved down the field with ease. On the first play of the fourth quarter, UCLA scored its second touchdown on a one-yard reception by fullback Michael Pitre to cut Washington's lead to 17-14.

With 3:39 left, UCLA got the ball back at its 27 but the Bruins failed to get a first down on their first three plays. On fourth down and one, Olson completed a five-yard pass to former walk-on Andrew Baumgartner.

"If we don't get that completion, the game's over," Olson said. "It's that simple."

The first down sparked the Bruins, who picked up 39 more yards on their next play when sophomore Marcus Everett turned a short pass into a big gain by avoiding two Washington defenders in front of the UCLA bench and running the ball to the Washington 20.

Olson completed two more passes to Chris Markey and Baumgartner to set up Drew's winning touchdown.

"It was a frustrating game for the most part," said Olson, who finished 29 of 44 for 287 yards and two touchdowns.

"We shouldn't really have to [come from behind] … but that's the way the game works. And that's the way we play it. As long as we came out victorious, that's all that matters."

Yeah, you really SHOULDN'T have to come from behind. Some of us forgot to take our anti-anxiety meds yesterday morning.


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