With true freshman Drew Olson in at QB for UCLA, the Rams Peter Hogan was flagged for roughing the passer, keeping alive a 52-yard UCLA drive that ended up in a one-yard TD run from Akil Harris. It gave the home team a 14-13 lead.
Faced with a deficit for the first time, the Rams attempted to mount a comeback of their own, only to see tailback Cecil Sapp cough up the ball at his own 16 after a vicious hit from UCLA's Ricky Manning. One play later, it was 21-13 after a 16-yard jaunt by the Bruins Manuel White.
CSU didn't give up, mounting drive that culminated in Van Pelt's seven-yard TD run on fourth and three. Faced with a two-point deficit with a minute and a half left, the Rams went for two. Bottled up on an option keeper, Van Pelt tried a last-ditch pitch that rolled away from Sapp and was scooped up by UCLA's' Ben Emanuel, who returned it 92 yards, resulting in two points for UCLA.
''We were getting 3 and 4 yards on that play all night long,'' Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said of the two-point try. ''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 two-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.''
Starting Bruins QB Corey 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. Van Pelt was 13-of-30 for 91 yards and rushed for 57 yards on 16 carries. Sapp gained 105 yards on 24 carries.
The game started well for CSU. 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 Chris Griffith shanked a 41-yard field-goal attempt. Griffith, who made 34-of-45 field goals in his first three years at UCLA, also hooked a 33-yard try midway through the third quarter after the Bruins moved from their own 6 to the CSU 15.
The game was played before a crowd of 58,078 at the Rose Bowl.