Bruins Shoot down High Flying Sun Devils for a share of Pac-12 Lead
By Gary Montgomery, BVN Staff –
Pasadena – A little more than a year ago, Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow announced their intent to introduce the piston as their new offense.
Their announcement was met with a good degree of humor. As you can imagine there were all types of gun related humorous comments thrown out and until now most of them well deserved.
The first year’s results saw scant improvement over the previous two years when UCLA averaged a mere 17 and 22 points per game respectively. As a matter of fact, the offense’s initial lack of success likely cost Norm Chow his job.
But on Saturday, after defeating 18th ranked Arizona State and riding a two game winning streak, the Bruins were giddy beyond belief. Rick Neuheisel was jumping around like a teenager and yelling at anyone who would listen.
“We’re getting better. We’re making some plays. Credit to everyone - coaches and players alike. We’re getting better and gaining more confidence. I can’t say enough about everyone’s effort,” said a jubilant Neuheisel.
Although the Sun Devils had 10 more first downs, more passing yards, slightly more total yards and more third down conversions, the Bruins were able to execute a near perfect final drive and then hold Arizona’s offense and force them to miss a final field goal to secure their fourth Pac-12 win and a share of first place.
With the win, UCLA, USC and Arizona State are tied for the top spot in the Pac-12’s South division. And even more amazing, with USC ineligible for conference play and UCLA holding the advantage over ASU by virtue of their win, UCLA could emerge as the South division representative to the first ever Pac-12 championship game. Obviously, UCLA has the formidable task of winning its last three games against Utah, Colorado and USC but that’s all that separates them from getting back to the top.
“It’s a gut-wrenching loss for this football team. You have to give UCLA credit, but we had so many opportunities in the second half to either put it away or to win it,” said Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson.
Visibly bothered by his teams’ second half ineptitude, Erickson continued to recap his team’s miscues throughout his post game comments. UCLA turned the ball over twice on key possessions and the Sun Devils failed to convert either turnover into points.
Conversely, UCLA’s beleaguered quarterback Kevin Prince gathered his team and completed a 10 play 79-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard Derric Coleman touchdown run. The Bruins used 5:07 off the clock during the drive and recaptured the lead by a single point.
When their 2-point conversion attempt failed leaving 42 seconds between another painful loss or Rick Neuheisel’s biggest win as Bruins’ head Coach, UCLA chose the latter but not without some serious nail biting.
On a 3rd down play with 30 seconds remaining in the game, the Bruins’ Aaron Hester was flagged for pass interference advancing the ball to the UCLA 41-yard line. With 09 seconds remaining, ASU quarterback Brock Osweller completed a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Gerelle Robinson moving the ball to the UCLA 29-yard line and setting up Arizona’s Alex Garoutte with a 46-yard attempt to win the game.
Garoutte’s kick had no chance and landed short of the end zone sparking a raucous Bruins’ celebration.
“You will see more of the same. We are going to go out there, give it everything we have and win more games like today,” said Bruin’s wide receiver Nelson Rosario.
The Bruins are steadily improving. There is no question about that but there should be some cushion. A close examination of Saturday’s game statics reveals an interesting truth. A single stat line 0-3. The Sun Devils missed three field goal attempts which means their coach was right “they gave it away”.
G. Montgomery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org