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Bruins Didn't Exactly Need Green to Carry Them, but He Did Anyway

October 25, 1987|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

After watching the Notre Dame-USC game on television Saturday afternoon, UCLA Coach Terry Donahue decided to break his own rule and let Gaston Green do some showing off.

It bothered Donahue when he heard on television that Tim Brown of Notre Dame had the Heisman Trophy all wrapped up.

And, just think, Donahue thought his own tailback was still in the running.

So before their game began, Donahue took Green aside and asked him if he thought he could carry the ball "a bunch" even though he had missed most of the week's practices with the flu.

Green said he'd be glad to carry the ball a bunch, and he did.

In UCLA's 42-18 victory over California before 51,107 fans at the Rose Bowl, Green rushed for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he caught a pass for a third touchdown, something he hadn't done since high school.

Green, who had also gained 224 yards against USC last season and 266 yards against BYU in the Freedom Bowl, became the first Bruin ever to have three games of more than 200 yards rushing.

"Gaston Green's performance was magnificent," Donahue said. "Gaston was due for this kind of a night. On two or three other occasions this season he could have rushed for over 200 yards if I had left him in the game. But he understands that we try to be team-oriented and let some other people play.

"When you have an opponent defeated, I see no sense in having Gaston run the ball just so he can get more yards. . . . But I told him going into the game today that he would get to carry the ball. After watching that telecast, it seemed that they were acting like the Heisman Trophy race is over. I just felt that if Gaston was going to be a candidate, we had to let him do something that would get somebody's attention."

Not that he ran Green all day long. Green's backup was in the game at the end. Green carried 28 times, averaging 7.86 yards a carry.

But he had 154 yards at halftime, and that is usually Donahue's cue to hand the ball to other players.

It wasn't as if Donahue was going for overkill, though, as Cal was making a game of it until late in the third quarter.

Despite the fact that UCLA had 550 yards in total offense to 346 for Cal, and that UCLA stretched its winning streak over Cal to 16 straight, Cal was giving the UCLA coach a scare in the third period.

UCLA remains the only undefeated team in the Pac-10 with a 4-0 record going into a critical game at Arizona State next Saturday. The Bruins are 6-1 overall. Cal is 0-2-1 and 1-5-1.

But the Bears were no pushovers as quarterback Troy Taylor passed for 328 yards and some quick-strike touchdowns.

UCLA had taken a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on Green's 79-yard touchdown run followed by a nice drive that Green ended with a 4-yard touchdown run.

The Bears came back with a 61-yard drive that ended with Robbie Keen's 36-yard field goal early in the second period.

Cal used up most of the second period putting together a drive that ended in a big break for the Bruins. UCLA cornerback Dennis Price intercepted a fourth-down pass from Taylor in the end zone and returned it 100 yards for the touchdown that gave UCLA a 21-3 lead with 2:28 to play in the first half.

Cal came back even after that to score again before halftime. Tailback Charles Carter scored from the one, but the big gain was made on a 58-yard pass play from Taylor to tight end Darryl Ingram.

Price was asked if that was his longest return ever. "Ever, ever," he said. "And I'm not sure I want to do it again! Was that a band member I was leaning on in the end zone? I don't know who it was. I just needed someone to hold me up.

"I got a lot of great blocks. When I first caught it, I wasn't sure there would be a return, but Eric Turner was yelling, 'Let's go, let's go.' So I tucked it away and started trucking. Somebody put a good block on Troy Taylor.

"At about the 15, I looked and saw that the last guy was closing fast, breathing down my neck. I cut back to try to gain a little bit, and I guess that did it."

Donahue said: "Dennis made a huge play, because that was a big point swing."

Taylor took the second-half kickoff and drove 67 yards to score on a seven-yard pass play to wide receiver Michael Smith, scrambling left and then right and throwing on the run to find Smith in the corner of the end zone.

Taylor added a two-point pass to Todd Powers, and the Bruins' lead was cut to three points, 21-18.

The players, however, said they never thought the game was in danger.

Donahue decided that meant they were very confident, figuring, "Players don't sense danger the way a coach senses danger."

Donahue elaborated later: "There was no panic among our players. The only panic was in my throat. There was some hyperventilating there.

"Players are bold and brash. They haven't been burned the way I have."

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