Bruins Win Season-Opener Behind Fourth Quarter Surge
Sept. 7, 2002
LOS ANGELES - UCLA couldn't put much offense together for three quarters in its season-opener.
The Bruins made up for it in the final 15 minutes.
Akil Harris and Manuel White ran for touchdowns just 64 seconds apart early in the fourth quarter, and White scored an insurance TD with 1:01 remaining Saturday night as the Bruins rallied for a 30-19 victory over No. 19 Colorado State.
The Rams (2-1) had a chance to tie the game with 1:32 left when Bradlee Van Pelt scored from 7 yards out on a fourth-and-3 play, making it 21-19.
But Van Pelt tried to pitch the ball while running the option on the 2-point conversion attempt, and Ben Emanuel picked up the errant toss and ran nearly the length of the field to give the Bruins two points and a four-point lead.
'We were getting 3 and 4 yards on that play all night long,' Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said. 'I guess we went to the well once too often.
'We were the better team for three quarters tonight. We could have just as easily won this game as not. Had we made the 2-point conversion, who knows what might have happened.'
Colorado State tried an onside kick, but UCLA recovered, and White scored on a 16-yard run to put the game out of reach.
'For a young team to do that against a Top 20 team that's had two games already, I was really proud of our kids,' UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. 'We came out in the second half and did some nice things, we controlled the line of scrimmage.'
UCLA receivers dropped five passes and usually reliable Chris Griffith missed two field goals, but thanks to the defense, the Bruins were within six points entering the final period.
Toledo promised he would play freshman quarterback Drew Olson in relief of fifth-year senior Cory Paus for at least one series, and Olson played two - at the end of the third period and beginning of the fourth.
Aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty, Olson guided the Bruins 52 yards on nine plays for the go-ahead score. The freshman completed both passes he threw for 24 yards on the drive, which Harris capped with a 1-yard run with 9:52 to play.
'Cory Paus is the quarterback, hopefully Cory can stay healthy,' Toledo said. 'There's no quarterback controversy, this was something we wanted to do for down the road. We'll do the same thing next week.'
On the second play following the kickoff, Van Pelt completed a swing pass to Cecil Sapp, but Ricky Manning's jarring hit forced a fumble and Rusty Williams recovered at the Rams' 16.
'It was a great hit, it was the turning point in the game,' Manning said.
With Paus back at quarterback, White scored on the next play.
Paus completed 12 of 23 passes for 142 yards with one interception. Harris gained 94 yards on 13 carries, and White picked up 52 yards on 11 attempts.
Paus said he had no problem sitting out the two series.
'It actually helped me calmed down and get more focused so when I went back in I was ready,' he said.
Van Pelt was 13-of-30 for 91 yards and ran for 57 yards on 16 carries. Sapp gained 105 yards on 24 carries.
UCLA was the last of the 117 Division I-A schools to play its opener, and it seemed to affect the Bruins for much of the game.
Harris fumbled the opening kickoff, causing UCLA to start from its 11, and Paus' first two passes went through the hands of potential receivers, forcing a punt.
Helped by Dexter Wynn's 12-yard punt return to the UCLA 43, the Rams then moved into position for a 35-yard field goal by Jeff Babcock.
Colorado State made it 10-0 on the first play of the second quarter when Sapp threw a 7-yard halfback pass to Joel Dreessen three plays after Wynn returned a punt 55 yards to the UCLA 15.
Sapp, a senior, hadn't thrown a pass previously at Colorado State.
The Bruins drew within three points less than a minute later on a 49-yard run by freshman Junior Taylor on a reverse. Paus threw a key block on the play.
Babcock kicked a 32-yard field goal three plays after Wynn intercepted Paus' poorly thrown pass from the end zone, making it 13-7.
UCLA had a chance to draw within three points again later in the second period, but Griffith shanked a 41-yard field-goal attempt.
Griffith, who made 34-of-45 field goals in his first three years at UCLA, missed a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 33-yarder in the third.
The Rams then drove to the UCLA 17 before Van Pelt was hit by Williams as he tried to pass and Brandon Chillar intercepted the wobbly pass at the 7.
The game was played before a crowd of 58,078 at the Rose Bowl.
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer