3:37pm - Stanford's three game captains today, out at midfield for the coin toss, are fifth-year senior outside linebacker Michael Craven, fifth-year senior nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo, and redshirt junior quarterback Trent Edwards.
3:42 - Terrible start for Stanford on special teams. For all the worry about punting and coverage against Maurice Drew, the Cardinal botch the opening kickoff. Fifth-year senior Michael Sgroi kicks the ball toward the left sideline, rolling out of bounds before the goalline. UCLA starts on their own 35-yard line. Was that a mis-hit by Sgroi, or did special teams coordinator Tom Quinn call for it? The former would be disappointing, but the latter would be a seemingly grievous lapse in judgment.
3:42 - Redshirt junior Trevor Hooper has the start at free safety. Hooper last started in Stanford's season opener at Navy, where he had his shoulder separated. Last week Hooper played in a reserve roll off the bench behind starter David Lofton, though Hooper actually logged more snaps in the game than Lofton. We are not surprised to see Hooper back in a starting role,
3:43 - UCLA goes to the run for their first play of the game, with Drew stuffed quickly behind the line of scrimmage by redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Udeme Udofia for a loss of two yards. An auspicious beginning.
3:44 - The Bruins look to pass on second down, but senior defensive end Julian Jenkins swallows UCLA quarterback Drew Olson for a six-yard sack. Stellar start for the Cardinal defense, although didn't Jenkins sack Kellen Clemens on the first play of the Oregon game?...
3:44 - Surprise! The Bruins run on 3rd & 18, and Drew darts through the defense on a draw play. He picks up 11 and is short of the first down, but that flash was a glimpse at the explosiveness and danger that Drew brings whenever he touches the ball. As a Cardinal fan, you should be excited about three-and-out, but that play leaves a very sour taste in your mouth. The guy is incredibly dangerous and will hurt Stanford at some point(s) in this game.
3:45 - Walt Harris has tricks up his own sleeve - starting the game five wide on offense: Mark Bradford, Gerren Crochet, Nick Frank, Matt Traverso and Michael Horgan. The pass is a quick one from Trent Edwards to Bradford, with blockers (Frank and Traverso?) beside him to spring an 11-yard game. Nobody expected that. Nobody. This should be some interesting playcalling today.
3:46 - Fifth-year senior J.R. Lemon gets the start at tailback, and on his first touch picks up seven yards. He barely drops to a knee after breaking a tackle, or else that would have picked up the first down... But on the next play, Edwards loses the ball just before handing it off, with the ball bouncing off Lemon and springing toward the offensive line. Lemon dives onto it, avoiding a disastrous play. They're ruling that play a fumble by Lemon here in the press box, but I don't think it's on him.
3:48 - Edwards has thrown two straight short passes, to Bradford and Justin McCullum, for modest but high percentage plays. We heard coming into the game that Stanford wanted to control the game and the clock on offense, to help keep the Bruin offense off the field. Thus far, the playcalling is keeping UCLA off-balance, while the Card slowly but surely move up field. OK so far.
3:50 - Fantastic play-action from Edwards to Lemon has the Bruin defense clog up the middle, while Edwards rolls out to his left. He has a lot of green in front of him, with just two defenders and two blockers. But Crochet slips and falls to the ground, forcing Edwards out of bounds while an unblocked defender races toward him. That would have been a double-digit gain if blocked. Eight yards ain't shabby, though.
3:52 - Lemon is a marked departure from the running styles we have seen through most of Stanford's season in 2005. Anthony Kimble and Jason Evans are both players who make defenders miss, with cutbacks and a slippery running style. Lemon has shown little of that on this drive today, but his power is breaking some tackles and pulling other tacklers with him. The playcalling from Walt Harris thus far has UCLA off-balance and unable to stack the box, which is giving Lemon enough room to operate.
3:53 - Again, we're seeing more of the short, controlled passing game. Edwards has not thrown an incompletion yet on this drive (a perfect 5-of-5). He just hit McCullum for eight yards on the sideline and then Crochet in the middle for 12 yards.
3:55 - Stanford whips out the screen play for the first time, and Lemon takes it straight up the middle of the field into the endzone for a 13-yard touchdown. Again, great play call. Stanford leads the #8 and undefeated Bruins, 7-0... Edwards was 6-of-6 for 63 yards on the drive... The 88-yard drive is Stanford's longest of the season. A long, time-chewing drive of high efficiency is exactly - EXACTLY - what Stanford wanted to do in this game.
3:58 - Sgroi pounds this kickoff HIGH and deep, out of the back of the endzone. I again wonder if the opening kickoff out of bounds was on Sgroi's or Quinn's head...
4:00 - Stanford again puts UCLA in 3rd & Long right away, though this time the Bruins look to pass. The Cardinal get good pressure on Olson, led by Udofia, which hurries his throw - falling incomplete. Two three-and-outs in two appearances for Stanford's defense. Can't complain about anything yet for the Cardinal "D".
4:02 - Junior David Marrero is on the field on offense for the first time this year, which is great to see. Stanford splits three wide and hand it to him on an end-around, but UCLA all-world linebacker Spencer Havner runs untouched past Stanford blocker and left tackle Allen Smith and swallows Marrero up behind the line of scrimmage. That was Smith's man, and he could not get out and into him. I also might rather see Marrero run out in a pattern for a play at receiver before you call the end-around.
4:03 - Second & Long, but Stanford hands off on a quick draw play to Lemon. He looks explosive on that play, and then he pulls two tacklers forward for an extra couple yards. The fifth-year senior looks solid today, thus far.
4:05 - After Stanford completes a third down (pass to McCullum), they suffer their first penalty of the day - a false start on right tackle Jon Cochran.
4:06 - On 2nd & 16, Stanford goes to the screen pass again. Two UCLA pass rushers are released, and Edwards hits Lemon with perfect precision. The play picks up 14. Two sweet screen plays in the same game - do we remember two that worked in any season in the last three years?
4:07 - On 3rd & 2, Walt Harris opts to throw the ball. Nobody is open, and Edwards rolls to his left to scramble, but he cannot beat safety Dennis Keyes in the open field and is swallowed for a loss of seven yards. The ball is at the UCLA 35-yard line. Stanford has to think about what to do here. Little too long for a sure field goal, but 4th & 9 is a low percentage play... Stanford takes the delay of game penalty to give redshirt sophomore punter Jay Ottovegio more room, but he kicks the ball too deep, landing just past the goalline. The false start penalty was the undoing of that drive.
4:10 - During a TV timeout, we see that almost the entire first quarter has blazed off the clock (1:51 remaining) in the first quarter. UCLA has not yet completed a pass, not made a first down and netted just six rushing yards on offense. The offense stalled for Stanford in that drive, but they are chewing clock and moving the ball, while the Sanford defense is standing tall.
4:11 - UCLA came into this game as the #1 team in the conference in turnover margin, but the Bruins narrowly avoided the first big turnover of the game right here. Fifth-year senior outside linebacker Jon Alston pressured Olson on a blitz, forcing a quick pass to Bruin fullback Michael Pitre, who was swallowed immediately from behind by big Babatunde Oshinowo. "Baba" forced a fumble on the tackle, which was covered with a pile of players from both teams. Redshirt junior inside linebacker Mike Silva was the first Stanford man there, but the ball squirts out and UCLA recovers... Instant replay review says that the pass was not complete - with the ball coming out before Pitre had possession. Didn't look like that up here, but it hardly matters given that the Bruins recovered the fumble anyway.
4:14 - That sets up 3rd & 8, and Stanford again gets good pressure on Olson. This time he is forced into a bad throw, which heads straight for senior cornerback T.J. Rushing. He bobbles the ball and drops it to the ground. Ouch. The senior playmaker botched that play, which would have given Stanford the ball in UCLA territory. That is also two straight plays where the Bruins have escaped would-be turnovers. The Cardinal are wreaking havoc on defense thus far. Still, that was one of the easiest interceptions of Rushing's career - how does he not catch that?
4:16 - Jason Evans is in the game at tailback, and his first play goes sour. A three-yard loss on his first carry, on Stanford's first down. Walt Harris has in every game thus far this year rotated his running backs, and this makes seven games of that habit. I like Evans, but I don't like the move. Lemon is doing good things for you, and he is just warming up. Also taking into consideration that Lemon has barely played this year, I would let him keep running while he is producing. 49 combined yards rushing and receiving on seven touches in one quarter of play is pretty solid.
4:18 - Junior wide receiver Mark Bradford has been out of the game for some time... The trainers are heavily wrapping his ankle. Thus far, the Cardinal are not palpably feeling the effects of Bradford's absence, with Crochet and McCullum catching a bunch of balls and moving the chains. But Bradford has been the only receiver for Stanford this year (post-Evan Moore) to successfully stretch the field, and last week he had a career game of nine catches for 185 yards. He will be missed at some point; count on that.
4:22 - Following that thought, Stanford starts the second quarter with three wideouts. Absent Bradford, we see Crochet, McCullum and Marcus McCutcheon on the field. To put Stanford's 2005 receiving depth in context, McCutcheon is at this moment the Cardinal's #3 wideout, yet he has zero receptions this season. In case you are wondering, Marrero is the next receiver on the Stanford depth chart.
4:23 - After Edwards has to scramble on third down and comes up short, Ottovegio is on the field again to punt. Again, the ball lands just past the goalline, giving no chance for a gunner to down it. Misfires in the punting game are keeping the Cardinal from seizing as large an advantage as they should hold in the field position battle.
4:25 - UCLA picks up their first first down of the game, with 12:52 to go in the second quarter. Fifth-year senior cornerback (nickel back) Calvin Armstrong helps the Bruins with a personal foul face mask penalty on the tackle, moving UCLA all of a sudden out to the 48-yard line. This second Stanford penalty of the game may be a second boost of momentum handed to the visiting Bruins. You cannot do that in a match-up like this, where UCLA possesses so much firepower.
4:29 - Maurice Drew is capitalizing for the Bruins, ripping off two straight carries for a total of 31 yards. Stanford had UCLA on their heels, but small mistakes can give your advantage away in a big hurry.
4:31 - UCLA has 3rd & 4 at the Stanford 15-yard line. This is a big spot for the Stanford defense... The Bruins hand off to Drew, who is stoned by Oshinowo and Udofia just behind the line of scrimmage. A UCLA holding penalty is declined, and the Bruins kick a field goal. 7-3, Stanford.
4:33 - During another TV timeout, we take stock of the battle between Stanford's defense and UCLA's offense. Several Cardinal fans opined this week on our message boards that UCLA would be insane to run the ball at Stanford. Just pass, pass, pass. Well, Drew Olson is getting hammered and hurried by Stanford's pass rush and has just seven yards on two piddly completions to his name. Maurice Drew, on the other hand, looks potentially lethal running the ball.
4:36 - We are hearing that Mark Bradford has a sprained left ankle, which is being iced. No idea on his chance of a return to the field this afternoon.
4:37 - Evans is in again for Stanford at tailback. When he appeared in the backfield on the last drive, the offense stalled. But on the second play of this drive, he rips a run up the middle on a draw play for 12 yards and a first down. We will see if Evans gains some confidence from that play.
4:38 - On a 3rd & 1 test, Evans comes up short. He is stuffed at the line of scrimmage for a short loss/no gain.
4:39 - More bad news on that play. Redshirt junior and starting center Tim Mattran is injured on the play and has to be helped off the field by two trainers. That doesn't look good. Stanford is punting, so we will have to wait until the next series to see how Stanford juggles the lineup in the interior of the offensive line.
4:43 - Stanford's defense makes a pair of big plays rushing the passer, recording a 10-yard sack by Jenkins and then hurrying Olson on the next play for an incompletion.
4:45 - What a killer. UCLA has 3rd & 20, and they get 24 on a screen pass to Drew. How many times have you seen that through the years of watching Stanford's defense?
4:46 - Another costly Stanford penalty. This time Oshinowo pulls down running back Chris Markey by the face mask, handing UCLA 15 yards. The Bruins started this drive back on their own 18-yard line, but they now sit at the Stanford 35.
4:49 - Another big third down for the Stanford defense: 3rd & 7 at the 31... UCLA makes a reception for eight yards and moves the chain. Here come the Bruins.
4:51 - Again, we're at third down. Stanford burns a timeout. With exactly two minutes left in the half, this looks like a move by Stanford to give themselves some clock after the end of this Bruin drive - however it ends. Or maybe they wanted to get the right personnel on the field...
4:53 - On short yardage, Stanford goes with a goalline defense of four defensive linemen, so maybe it was a personnel-driven time out. Redshirt junior Matt McClernan comes onto the field as the fourth DL. Chris Markey and the Bruins are stuffed at the line of scrimmage by fifth-year senior inside linebacker Kevin Schimmelmann... And then UCLA shanks the field goal attempt wide left.
4:54 - Stanford takes over on their own 20-yard line with 1:18 to go in the half. Offensive line note: redshirt freshman Alex Fletcher has moved to center, with redshirt junior Ismail Simpson taking his spot at right guard... Stanford hands off twice to junior fullback Nick Frank (Lemon is back in the game at tailback), picking up 11 yards and a first down. They are not running any kind of hurry-up offense. With the shuffle on the offensive line, I would play it conservative as well. Take the lead into halftime and assess what you should do with your injury-altered lineup... Hand-off again to Frank for the final play of the half. After two quarters, it is still Stanford 7, UCLA 3. Anybody bet the "under" on this game?
5:15 - We are about to kick off the second half, and at this time we are reminded of how strong UCLA has been in the second half and fourth quarter of their games this year. Stanford has not scored since their opening drive, and they have lost two starters on offense. The Stanford defense is playing ahead of expectations in this game, but how long can they hold off the Bruins? Walt Harris will earn his pay check today if he has found a way at halftime to get the offense back on track - sans Mark Bradford.
5:18 - Stanford starts the second half on offense, with Bradford on crutches on the sideline and Mattran still not back from the locker room. He was carted off after his injury and has yet to return. Fletcher is still at center, with Simpson still at right guard. Lemon is back at tailback.
5:20 - Mattran has just come out of the locker room, walking under his own power but alongside a trainer holding crutches. He just grabbed his helmet and put it on. No word if that is wishful thinking on his part, or if he could return.
5:21 - Meanwhile on the field, Lemon is running the ball hard again and picking up some tough yardage.
5:24 - Stanford's mettle is tested for the first time this half on 3rd & 6 at the UCLA 49. Edwards drops back to pass and sees nothing downfield, turning to find his fullback Frank in the flat. A UCLA defender can stop Frank short of the first down, but a nifty shift blows by the Bruin and picks up the first down. The home crowd really appreciates the individual play from Frank and offers loud applause.
5:25 - Déjà vu all over again - it's third down again, and again Stanford goes to split backs. This time Edwards dumps it to Lemon, who is tackled at the line of scrimmage. Stanford made a good push on that opening drive, but again come up just yards short of field goal range. The punting team is coming onto the field - does Harris feel the chances of Sgroi hitting a 52-yarder are too low and wants to play the field position battle? The kid has the leg...
5:26 - The last time Stanford stalled on the UCLA 35-yard line, they took the delay of game penalty to give Ottovegio more room. He punted the ball into the endzone anyway. Perhaps that explains why they let him punt from where the ball stands this time, and it works for the better. Maurice Drew takes a fair catch on his own seven-yard line. Nice punt by Ottovegio - pretty questionable decision by Drew... Though I criticized the job Ottovegio did earlier on a couple punts, Stanford will take just about any punting scenario that does not involve a block or a Drew return, and to this point UCLA has zero return yards (punt or kickoff).
5:30 - UCLA picks up a total of seven yards on these first two plays, and they are tough to come by. Third down is an incompletion. Is the Bruin offense patient, preparing for their traditional late game breakout? Or are they bewildered, stymied by the Stanford defense? Looks like the latter.
5:31 - Stanford twice comes close to big plays on the subsequent UCLA punt. Alston nearly gets to the punter for a block, and then Rushing nearly breaks through a seam before he bumps into one of his own players. Close counts for little in football, and worse still, Stanford was flagged for a block-in-the-back penalty, marching them back to their own 36. That is disappointing field position after your defense just stuffed the Bruins deep in their own territory. By my count, Stanford has six penalties for 50 yards in this game against UCLA's one five-yard flag. Granted, the Cardinal have declined a couple of UCLA penalties, but in this tight game, you want to be the team making the fewest mistakes. What is it that Walt Harris repeatedly says? "We want to do the things to help ourselves win, and not do the things to help us lose." Penalties help you lose.
5:34 - For the first time today, Stanford and Trent Edwards throw down the field. Edwards looks for McCullum on the left (UCLA) sideline, but the pass drops incomplete right at the white chalk. That is only Edwards' second incompletion today (13-of-15 for 125 yards)... Make that three incompletions, as Edwards goes to McCullum on a third down attempt just past the first down marker. The ball is slightly off the mark and could have been intercepted.
5:36 - Ottovegio has to punt again, and this one is a low corkscrew that travels 39 yards. This should be the first return opportunity for the dangerous Drew today, but he is met immediately by fifth-year senior special teams standout Timi Wusu. Drew breaks the tackle only to run backward and lose four yards as he is smothered by Wopamo Osaisai and Taulai Fonoti. UCLA will start at their own 15-yard line.
5:38 - The Bruins start off their offense on the right foot, with Olson connecting with one-time Cardinal recruit Joe Cowan. Rushing misses the tackle, letting Cowan run for more yardage and a first down. Rushing is not having a game up to (his) par today...
5:39 - There is the first turnover of the day! Forced fumble... and who falls on it? The Cardinal's number one ball hawk, Nick Sanchez. We called it two springs ago in practices - the Floridian has a knack for finding the ball. He keeps finding different ways to do so, and this fumble recovery is as big as any play he has made this year.
5:40 - Stanford brings out the hammer on their first play with the short field. Lemon picks up four yards running straight ahead. Not spectacular, but offensive coaches will take 2nd & 6 every time.
5:41 - Edwards scrambles for five yards, leaving 3rd & 1. Walt Harris has shown a proclivity thus far on The Farm for throwing on third-down short-yardage situations, and several times coming up big. He does so again here, hitting with an Edwards pass to redshirt junior tight end Matt Traverso for 11 yards. Nice.
5:42 - The "money" play of the day today is without a doubt the screen pass to Lemon. Stanford nets their second score of the day on that play, this time from nine yards out. Stanford leads 14-3. Something is brewing in Stanford Stadium...
5:46 - Stanford almost gave themselves a huge play, as Jenkins sacks Olson and knocks the ball loose. Alston is there for a scoop-and-score, but he bobbles the ball and cannot come up with it. Drew dives onto the ball just ahead of Stanford to save the Bruins just outside of their goalline. The touchdown temptation is big, but if Alston just falls on the ball, the Cardinal are at the one- or two-yard line and will punch it in anyway. That drives coaches nuts.
5:49 - Rushing redeems with a nice punt return, taking the ball 20 yards to the 50-yard line. With under two minutes remaining in the third quarter, this is a drive that could put Stanford in a winning position in this ballgame.
5:52 - Another brilliant play called by Walt Harris. On 3rd & 3, Edwards gives play-action and runs a naked bootleg for 13 yards down the left sideline. That takes the ball to the UCLA 30 and also winds off the last seconds of the third quarter. We will start the final period with the Cardinal driving into scoring position, while holding already a two-score lead. A touchdown here would be pretty big, folks...
5:55 - UCLA has made its mark this year by pounding opponents and wearing them down in the second half to break open their offense, but Stanford is in that role today. The Cardinal just opened the fourth quarter with fullback Nick Frank running for six yards on first down, down to the 24-yard line. Time of possession through three quarters: Stanford - 26:56; UCLA: 18:04.
5:57 - On a critical third down, Edwards makes his first "off" throw of the day. He has redshirt sophomore tight end Michael Sgroi open in the flat for a first down but throws the ball too high, sailing over the 6'6" target's head and hands.
5:58 - Sgroi does put points on the board, though, hitting a 40-yard field goal. Stanford 17, UCLA 3. This game is now in the hands of the Cardinal defense and special teams. What will the Bruins do as they start to feel desperation? More of the same is unlikely.
6:00 - The special teams holds up their end of the bargain, tackling UCLA's kickoff return on the 13-yard line. Redshirt freshman Pat Maynor wraps up. A long field is not what Karl Dorrell wanted to see here. Time to see if Dorrell is for real, or a fraud...
6:02 - UCLA is working hard to pick up yardage, and they have to go to third down before they find a good pickup on this drive. Olson connects with the vaunted Marcedes Lewis for only his second reception of the game.
6:04 - For better or for worse, UCLA is not yet panicked. Time is ticking as they try to find a way to move the chains.
6:05 - A hangman's noose just nuzzled its way around Karl Dorrell's neck. On third down, the Bruins took to the air for a short catch and run, but Nick Sanchez wrapped up the open field tackle short of the marker and also forced a fumble. Babatunde Oshinowo recovers at the UCLA 42-yard line. Any score by Stanford here would probably put the game away. But the Cardinal need at least one first down, preferably two, to run some clock and give Sgroi shorter distance for the field goal.
6:05 - Stanford goes on the ground right away, continuing their confidence in the running game today while also draining clock. First to Frank and then to Lemon... Sets up third down, which is a big completion from Edwards to McCullum. So far, so good.
6:07 - Well, this is the one criticism of Lemon. He does not have that extra gear to beat a defender to the corner. He takes the ball left with a load of open green ahead of him and just one defender to beat. As soon as Lemon realizes he will not get to the corner, he cuts back inside and in doing so slips up, just touching a knee to the ground. Eight yards is nice, but there was the potential of a bigger play.
6:08 - It does not matter, as Frank powers the ball on the next play for a first down... And then Frank powers into the endzone for a seven-yard touchdown. Stanford 24, UCLA 3. I like the mix of Lemon and Frank carrying the ball.
6:10 - Pause for a moment to consider what Stanford is doing here today. The upset win of #8 UCLA is worth something, but the national TV audience will also walk away from this game rightfully calling the Bruins were a fraudulent Top 10 team. More impressive than the win is the assertion of Stanford's running game. With their two best receivers (Bradford and Moore) out of action, the Cardinal's anemic ground game would be expected to implode Stanford's chances. But the Cardinal are holding on to their scoreboard advantage, and then extending it, largely off the control their running game is garnering.
6:12 - Just a whiff of wind out of Stanford's sails as Sgroi kicks the kickoff out of bounds. UCLA gets the ball at their own 35. I need to find out if that is on Sgroi's or Quinn's head. Football is a game of field position, and the combination of Sgroi's leg with Stanford's coverage team should not so easily give up the 35-yard line.
6:14 - The Bruins on three straight plays throw the ball to Maurice Drew. He eats up big chunks of yardage and moves the chains. Quickly, UCLA is down to the Stanford 28-yard line. Here comes the charge. Will it be enough, in time? Or too little too late? UCLA has made their season off comeback wins, while Stanford gave up a 28-0 run in the late stages of last week's game against Arizona State.
6:15 - In a flash, there is the first UCLA touchdown of the game. Stanford 24, UCLA 10. It's now a game of clock-watching. The Bruins trail by 14, with 7:04 in the game. As we have been discussing, Walt Harris will want to run the ball here. UCLA has tasted the endzone and the possibility of another comeback bid. Expect them to aggressively sell out on stopping the run here.
6:18 - To make sure T.J. Rushing does not break their backs with a kickoff return, UCLA kicks short to Kris Bonifas. Stanford starts on their own 32. Can they run the ball?...
6:19 - The first play goes the way of the Bruins. Edwards hands off to Lemon, who is stuffed for a short loss of less than a yard. The clock is rolling, but 2nd & 10 is a tough place from which to operate
6:20 - Second down is a different run, but the same result. Lemon has now lost a total of one yard on the two runs. The clock is ticking, but the ball is not moving. Walt Harris will soon be leaning on his defense if the "O" goes three-and-out.
6:21 - Third down hands off to Frank for a gain of one, but a Stanford hold on the play stops the clock. That is a killer. The clock should have been able to run under five minutes, but now the Bruins save about 30 seconds... They do burn a timeout after declining the penalty, however.
6:23 - This should be the one big chance for Maurice Drew to back up that #1-ranked punt return average in the nation... but Ottovegio's punt is short and not touched by Drew. UCLA starts on their own 28-yard line.
6:24 - The conventional passing game is out the window, and the Bruins are putting all their stock into passes to their backs. It netted them a lightning quick touchdown last drive, and here Drew takes them 22 yards to the 50-yard line. 5:08 left in the game. The Bruins have time, certainly with college rules (clock stops for first downs) and an offense moving at this clip.
6:25 - He has made a lot of plays today, but Oshinowo whiffs on a tackle at the 50-yard line after a short pass, with the UCLA receiver rumbling to the 31. A 19-yard mistake.
6:26 - Very next play, UCLA goes for the jugular, over the top of Sanchez to Cowan for a touchdown strike in the endzone. 4:43 to go, and now it is a one-score game. Stanford 24, UCLA 17.
6:28 - This time, the Bruins are willing to kick deep to Rushing, and he returns it only to the 20-yard line. 4:38 to go - the Cardinal have to move the ball.
6:29 - Huge eight-yard pickup by Frank on the ground. 2nd & 2 is just what the doctor ordered... And Frank carries again on second down, picking up three. Big first down. The clock is ticking down to 3:30 right now.
6:30 - In a tight ballgame, you have to make the fewest mistakes. Ismail Simpson is flagged for a false start, moving Stanford backward. 1st & 15 is an absolute killer when you want to run the ball. What did I say earlier about penalties?... Edwards has to take to the air in that long down-and-distance, throwing behind Crochet incomplete. The clock freezes at 2:58. Whatever happens, keep the clock running.
6:31 - Again to the air, though this time on a screen pass, which is almost as high percentage as a hand-off. Lemon grabs the ball but is hammered and drops it. Looks like a completion and fumble (which Jon Cochran recovers), but it is soon ruled incomplete. That stops the clock at 2:51. That penalty is really hurting Stanford.
6:33 - Stanford throws again to a back, this time to Frank, and he scrambles for some positive yardage of five yards to the 31-yard line. Stanford will have to punt at 4th & 10, but the play picked up a little yardage and kept the clock rolling... UCLA burns its second timeout of the half, stopping the clock at 2:39. Again, Maurice Drew has his chance to make his mark and change the game... Drew returns the punt 10 yards to the UCLA 34-yard line. 66 yards and 2:30 to go for the #8-ranked Bruins.
6:35 - A risky play call, UCLA runs the ball up the middle, gaining five. The clock rolls without the first down. UCLA wants to save its timeout and has to hurry-up. Second down pass falls incomplete.
6:36 - Better late than never? Bruin tight end Marcedes Lewis picks up 20 yards, moves the chains, and stops the clock.
6:36 - UCLA goes back to the air, but junior safety Brandon Harrison leaps to deflect a pass on an excellent athletic play. The sideline judge throws a flag for pass interference, which draws thunderous boo's from the home crowd. I don't know about that call...
6:37 - Like they did on the last touchdown, UCLA goes high down the sideline for an over-the-top attempt at the endzone, this time down the left (UCLA) sideline. Stanford commits obvious pass interference here, and now the ball moves to the Stanford 15-yard line. 1:44 to go, which means the clock is a non-factor at this point.
6:39 - First down is an incomplete pass, and a short second-down play picks up two yards. The Bruins have to burn their final timeout before 3rd & 8. 1:34 to go in the game.
6:41 - A screen pass to Drew leaves UCLA with 4th & 1 at the six-yard line. Stanford calls timeout with 0:57 to go. It all comes down to this. Both seasons hang in the balance... but I have to head to the field for post-game interviews.
(Post-script: UCLA completes a pass on an Olson rollout for the first down, at the one-yard line. Drew scores the next play and the game is tied at 24. Rushing almost breaks a huge kickoff return, going 30 yards before he runs into McCutcheon. Stanford has 46 seconds and one timeout to drive, but on second down Edwards is sacked and Walt Harris decides to let the clock run to 0:00 and go to overtime... UCLA wins the coin toss and gives Stanford the ball first. On 3rd & 3 at the 18-yard line, UCLA's defensive coordinator makes the call of the game coaching his players to watch for an Edwards run. The mobile Stanford quarterback goes play-action and immediately is engulfed by a Bruin defender for a seven-yard loss. Sgroi kicks a 42-yard field goal, but the Bruins have all the momentum with only 25 yards to score the winning touchdown... On their second play, UCLA grows a corner fade for the winning touchdown against Rushing. The ball was perfect to the outside where Rushing had no chance. The play takes place right in front of me, and my first reaction is that the play looks identical to what Edwards would throw to Bradford or Moore. One delicious last dose of irony at the end of a monumental collapse. UCLA 30, Stanford 27.
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