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Iowa Has No Fun, but UCLA Has a Ball : Eric Ball Ties a Record With 4 Touchdowns in Bruins' 45-28 Rout

January 02, 1986|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

There was a bit of a smirk to Tommy Taylor's smile as he made his leisurely strut off the field, pausing to grant interviews, shake hands and just generally gloat after UCLA's stunning 45-28 victory over Iowa Wednesday in the Rose Bowl game.

The Bruins' big inside linebacker was literally steaming as he looked for a particular local TV sportscaster and anyone else who had picked Iowa to beat UCLA.

It was a cool day, not the usual beautiful Pasadena showcase weather, and since the sun had set and a mist had settled in, the sweat that Taylor had worked up during the game while stopping the Hawkeyes and much-heralded quarterback Chuck Long, was rising from his body in the form of steam.

It made for an eerie effect as he said, "I've been angry. Every time I heard somebody say that we couldn't stop Iowa's offense or that they were just bigger and stronger or that they were taking this game seriously and we weren't, it just made me angry. When I'm angry, that gives me incentive.

"I hope we set some people straight. What we just did was win our fourth straight New Year's Day game. Now, you don't do that by backing in to a game or by not taking football seriously."

UCLA did put on quite an impressive show of football for the 103,292 fans at the Rose Bowl and an international television audience.

Eric Ball, a freshman running back who took over when starter Gaston Green went out in the second period with a pulled hamstring, scored four touchdowns--on runs of 30, 40, 6 and 32 yards, respectively--to tie the modern Rose Bowl record set by USC's Sam Cunningham in 1973. Ball carried the ball 22 times for 227 yards--a Rose Bowl yardage total second only to the 247 yards of USC's Charles White in 1980.

Junior quarterback Matt Stevens, who became the starter for this game two days earlier when the coaches decided that senior David Norrie could not play with his pulled thigh muscle, directed the Bruins to a total of 488 net yards.

The Bruin defense, which rated hardly a mention in the buildup for this game, forced an unprecedented number of fumbles and generally played havoc with Iowa's offense. Long, as expected, did roll up some passing yardage--completing 29 of 37 passes for 319 yards. That's why he was the runnerup in the Heisman Trophy race. But with the running game shut down and with star running back Ronnie Harmon held to just 55 yards, Long's passing wasn't enough.

UCLA made a true believer of Iowa Coach Hayden Fry, for one. But, then, Fry was never among the Bruins' detractors.

After the Bruins had scored more points against the Hawkeyes than any other team this season, after the Bruins had physically handled the very physical Iowa team on the line of scrimmage, after the Bruins had won their third Rose Bowl game in four years to give the Pac-10 the bragging rights to the series with 15 victories in the last 17 years, Fry could only tip his hat.

"You have just witnessed the complete annihilation of our football team," he said. "They were blocking us, tackling us, moving the ball against us. They have the finest group of athletes, by far, that we have faced this season.

"They have great skill people and they were getting great blocking. We came into this game with a great defensive team, but they were opening up holes that I could run through.

"They got great execution from Stevens; and their running backs are just fantastic. We were missing tackles, but not because we weren't in position. We just couldn't bring them down on the first hit.

"This just wasn't our day. UCLA was just the superior football team today.

"I can't tell you why. I can't tell you why they just won eight football games this season. There wasn't any indication on the films that they would be as good as they were tonight. . . . If they played all season like they played tonight, they'd be the national champions."

UCLA's record improved to 9-2-1 with the victory, while Iowa, which went into the Rose Bowl game ranked No. 3, dropped to 10-2.

UCLA's two losses this season were at Washington--in a very good 21-14 game--and at USC--in a fluke 17-13 game in which the Bruins rolled up more yardage but beat themselves with fumbles.

The most costly fumble of the USC game belonged to Ball, who was diving into the end zone with what would have been the winning touchdown when he lost control of the ball.

UCLA Coach Terry Donahue described Ball as "extremely distraught" after that fumble.

But, Ball said, he was quite relieved when, later that evening, Arizona beat Arizona State and he was given the chance to redeem himself in the Rose Bowl game.

Ball certainly made up for a lot with his game against the Hawkeyes.

As Stevens said, "When somebody carries the ball 22 times for 227 yards, that does a lot to help a quarterback. You like to be able to run the ball like that. It's safer than passing, and you can control the tempo of the game."

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