Huskies can't stop UCLA in 2nd half, fall 44-31
Eventually, the numbers stopped lying. While the UCLA Bruins dominated the action from the start Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, the Washington...
Seattle Times staff reporter
PASADENA, Calif. -- Eventually, the numbers stopped lying.
While the UCLA Bruins dominated the action from the start Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, the Washington Huskies kept hanging in and hanging on, trying desperately to keep hope alive.
Finally the roof caved in, as it so often has here in the past, and the Bruins pulled away for a 44-31 win, snapping a 10-10 halftime tie.
"We couldn't come up with that one more play to stop another drive," said UW coach Tyrone Willingham after the Huskies fell to 0-1 in Pac-10 play and 2-2 overall.
In fact, the Huskies rarely stopped UCLA at all, giving up 537 yards and 333 on the ground, each season highs for a UW opponent. The Huskies also allowed an 85-yard kickoff return and a 60-yard interception return as the Bruins scored 27 points in the final 16:31.
"Those are plays we can't give up," Willingham said. "We have to find a way to avoid those. There were probably about 30 points there on plays of that nature that you can't do."
The Huskies rarely figure out how to do that here, however, as this was UW's sixth straight loss to the Bruins at the Rose Bowl, and ninth in 11 games overall.
And this one was as frustrating as any of the rest considering UCLA was without seven starters and played the final 14 minutes with third-string walk-on quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. He stepped in for starter Patrick Cowan, who was in relief of regular starter Ben Olson, out with concussion-like symptoms. Cowan, the son of former UW quarterback Tim Cowan, was 17 of -30 for 147 yards and a touchdown before suffering a knee injury early in the fourth quarter.
UCLA is now 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Pac-10 and got a victory in what many in town were calling a must-win after the Bruins were swamped at Utah last week, 44-6.
"It was a good response from the previous week," said UCLA coach Karl Dorrell. "I was very excited about how our team came out ready to play."
Indeed, the Bruins ran up and down the field in the first half, gaining 283 yards while holding UW to 132.
But the score was tied 10-10 at the break as the Bruins often proved their own worst enemy, getting called for eight penalties in the first half, missing a field goal and losing a fumble on a punt return to set up Washington's first touchdown.
Washington took a 7-3 lead in the second quarter on a 4-yard pass from Jake Locker to Marcel Reece, getting the ball at the 26-yard line when a punt hit UCLA's Michael Norris -- who was lying on the ground -- with Chris Stevens recovering.
But that proved to be UW's only lead of the game as the Bruins came right back to take a 10-7 lead before UW tied it at halftime.
UCLA then took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 71 yards on 13 plays for what proved to be the go-ahead score, an 8-yard run by Khalil Bell.
Later in the quarter, UCLA safety Dennis Keyes stepped in front of a Locker pass and ran 60 yards for a TD to make it 24-10.
That play typified an erratic night for Locker, who threw for a career-high four touchdowns, but was off-target much of the time early on. Locker was 9 of 23 for 63 yards in the first three quarters before getting hot in the final quarter and finishing 17 of 36 for 216 yards. Three of his TDs came in the fourth quarter.
"He loosened up in the second half and made some nice throws, some good reads," said UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano.
Locker, however, was downcast afterward and said, "I'm not happy with the way I played tonight."
Washington used a Dan Howell interception early in the fourth quarter to set up a 20-yard Locker TD pass to Anthony Russo to make it 24-17.
With Cowan out -- he was hurt on the Howell interception -- momentum seemed to be shifting UW's way.
But on UCLA's next possession, Chris Markey ran 72 yards for a TD to put the Bruins ahead 31-17. Markey finished with 193 yards on just 14 carries.
UW linebacker E.J. Savannah said the Huskies knew the Bruins were going to run -- Bethel-Thompson didn't attempt a pass in the four series he played -- but that "we just didn't stop it."
The Huskies came right back, Locker hitting Russo for a 63-yard score. But UCLA's Matt Slater returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to make it 38-24 with 9:33 left and that proved to be too much.
"I think our team, without any question, kept fighting," Willingham said. "I don't think there was any issue about that. There was an execution issue where we didn't get it right and do things to be in position to jump on top."
Washington has now lost two in a row after a 2-0 start that had some proclaiming that the Huskies were ready to rejoin college-football's elite. And the task doesn't get any easier now as No. 1 USC comes to town next week.
"We don't get down," Russo said. "We've got a lot of fight on this team, a lot of character on this team. We're still strong. We know what kind of team we are. We're just making too many mistakes right now."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.