Stanford fans might believe otherwise, but UCLA Coach Terry Donahue was not running up the score when he took the three points for John Lee's 42-yard field goal off the board and held out for the three-yard touchdown run by James Primus in the final minutes of the Bruins' 34-9 victory at Stanford Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Of all the 63,000 people in attendance, plus dozens of players and coaches and extras on the sidelines and the many thousands watching on television, Donahue was probably the only one doing the mental arithmetic and concluding that Stanford just might score three touchdowns in less than five minutes.
Donahue is like that. Never assume anything. Brace for the worst, no matter what the odds.
And the odds were absolutely and overwhelmingly against a big comeback by the Cardinal. Stanford was done in by the time the fourth quarter came around.
Asked about his decision to accept the five-yard penalty when Stanford was offside on Lee's kick, Donahue said: "When you get into that situation, honestly, there is a lot of discussion. My initial reaction was to keep the three points, but there was a feeling that we would still be within John's range if we didn't get the touchdown.
"If we did it without screwing up, we would be able to reduce the margin of time that they would have to come back. It wasn't over."
Even with a 21-point lead over a team that had scored just 9 points in the first 54 minutes?
"Oh, no, not by any stretch of the imagination," Donahue said. "Not against an explosive team like that. You have to be aware for 60 minutes."
Stanford can be an explosive team. Quarterback John Paye leads the nation in total offense and he has the ability to go for the quick strike.
But the Bruin defense had successfully squelched the explosiveness all afternoon. There was nothing left but fizzle.
Paye's longest pass completion had been for 17 yards.
UCLA used a four-man front to pressure Paye and stop the run, while using the other seven players to limit passing yardage. Paye was sacked five times, four by defensive tackle Mark Walen and once by nose guard Jim Whaler. The losses totaled 55 yards.
Stanford made some progress with a short passing game and, as Coach Jack Elway put it, "They sat and looked at it."
The Bruin game plan was to give the Cardinal the short passes, stop the run and count on some turnovers. It worked to perfection.
Donahue said: "We figured that if they hit 40 balls, all for about four yards, they wouldn't win the game."
Paye completed 31 of his 45 passes for 182 yards. His backup, Fred Buckley, passed for another 13. But combined with just 7 yards rushing, that's 202 total yards. Not enough. And Paye also gave up a key interception.
Stanford's first drive seemed destined for the end zone when Paye completed eight straight passes. There followed two runs by fullback Brad Muster, and suddenly the Cardinal was on the UCLA 13.
Donahue was starting to raise his voice to his defensive staff.
That was when inside linebacker Ken Norton Jr. intercepted Paye's pass and ran it back 32 yards.
"They kept running the fullback in motion and then hitting him in the flat," Norton said. "On that play, Paye looked at the fullback and seemed to check him off and then looked to the other guy underneath. I read it all the way and happened to be where I could go for it.
"That turned the momentum. We had been talking about getting some turnovers. We didn't have the turnovers at Washington, and we knew we had to have them today."
Paye called the interception "a terrible read" on his part. All it led to, though, was a 38-yard field goal by Lee.
The UCLA defense came back to hold Stanford without a first down, and on the punt, the Bruins came up with another big turnover.
Freshman Darryl Henley made a quick run around the left end and flew in front of Doug Robison's punt. The ball hit Henley's arm, ricocheted off the ground and bounced high. Josh Shinnick grabbed it out of the air and stepped into the end zone.
"We rehearsed that all week," Henley said. "We watched on film the mistake we made last year when the guy in my position didn't get off the ball fast enough. Last year, we overloaded the right side, and they shifted to cover that side. They did it again, and this time I got in there fast enough.
"After the ball hit me, I was looking in the end zone for it. I wanted the touchdown. I was really glad to see that Josh had the ball--even though I was wishing it was me."
UCLA's lead grew to 13-0 on a 26-yard field goal by Lee early in the second period.
Lee, who has made all 13 field goals this season and has a streak of 18 straight dating back to last season, took over the No. 3 spot on the list of the NCAA's top field goal-kickers. He has a total of 71 and is closing in on the record of 78 set by Luis Zendejas of Arizona State.
David Sweeney kicked a 30-yard field goal for Stanford just before the first half ended.