UCLA FB Rewind: Bruins Sweep Alabama
Sept. 2, 2000 UCLA 35, Alabama 24
UCLA lined up against No. 3 Alabama to open the 2000 season and handed the Crimson Tide a 35-24 setback before almost 80,000 in the Rose Bowl in the SEC team's first trip to Pasadena in nearly 55 years. It was just the second meeting between the two teams, who had squared off previously in the 1976 Liberty Bowl.
DeShaun Foster ran a school-record tying 42 times for 187 yards on the day and registered three touchdowns, finishing in the end zone on a pair of 1-yard plunges in the first half and an 8-yard run late in the third quarter.
"A lot of people had counted us out, I wanted to do my part, and I guess my part was to run for a career-high total," Foster said. "It's a great feeling to come back, in the opening game, beat the No. 3 team in the country, and get some respect."
The Bruins who owned an edge in total offense of 396 yards to 265 for Alabama, had the ball in their possession for over 37 minutes in the contest and mounted long scoring drives of 19 and 13 plays. Running behind a veteran offensive line, Foster chewed up an Alabama defense that allowed an average of only 74.5 yards rushing last season.
"They were physical, they came to play," Alabama defensive end Jarret Johnson said of the Bruins. "They usually don't pound it. But they pounded it down our throats today. They deserve everything they got today. That's what's so frustrating," Johnson continued. "They beat us with our style. That's our style."
Quarterback Ryan McCann, who stepped in after Cory Paus was injured on the first Bruin offensive play of the game, completed 14 of 24 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Freddie Mitchell threw for a 31-yard touchdown to Brian Poli-Dixon and also caught a 46-yard scoring pass from McCann while racking up four catches for 91 yards on the day.
Alabama, the defending champion of the Southeastern Conference, threw the ball 30 times as the Bruin defense shut down the run. Turnovers plagued the Crimson Tide which fumbled four times, losing two, and also had a pass intercepted. Bruin defensive back Jason Zdenek recovered one fumble at the Alabama 48 which set up Foster's third scoring run and capped off the day's scoring at 35-24.
Sept. 1, 2001 UCLA 20, at Alabama 17
UCLA opened the 2001 season by embarking on a first-ever trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide. The Bruins came out of the gate slowly, as Alabama jumped out to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, tallying on a long scoring pass and a 30-yard field goal.
The Bruin offense then started to answer the challenge. Ed Ieremia-Stansbury ended a 7-play, 65-yard scoring drive with a 10-yard run with nine minutes left on the clock to finish off the first half scoring.
At the 10:00 mark of the third quarter, quarterback Cory Paus connected with wide receiver Tab Perry for a 53-yard scoring pass to put the Bruins in the lead, at 14-10. Chris Griffith added a pair of field goals from 30 and 45 yards out to lift UCLA into a 20-10 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
Alabama scored with just over two minutes to play on another long pass play to pull within three points. The Bruins were forced to punt on their subsequent possession and Nate Fikse pinned the Crimson Tide back to their 10-yard line with a little over a minute left to play. The Bruin defense stiffened to stave off any chance for a last-minute Alabama rally and three straight Crimson Tide incompletions ended the contest.
Running back DeShaun Foster led the attack with 113 yards on 24 rushing attempts. Perry finished with five catches on the day for 113 yards and a score. Linebackers Ryan Nece (13) and Robert Thomas (10) keyed the Bruin defense with double-digit tackle production.