EUGENE, Ore. — It seemed for a while Saturday on a gloomy, wet day in the Northwest that UCLA was on the verge of a significant upset.
UCLA led Oregon, 24-13, in the fourth quarter. And, when Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave's fourth-down pass intended for Anthony Jones was three yards behind the flanker near the Bruin goal line, there was some celebrating in the UCLA ranks.
It was premature, however, as UCLA cornerback Dion Lambert was cited for pass interference on Jones, an 11-yard penalty.
The Ducks, given a reprieve, scored from the two-yard line, added a two-point conversion and then got another touchdown in the final two minutes to win, 28-24.
It was Oregon's first victory over UCLA at Autzen Stadium since it was built in 1967. The Ducks were previously 0-7 against the Bruins here and 0-5 during Terry Donahue's tenure as UCLA's coach.
So Oregon, 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference, improved its chances of getting a bowl bid. UCLA fell to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the Pac-10.
Unless the Bruins win their final two games against Washington next Saturday at Seattle and USC, they will finish with a losing record for the second consecutive year.
UCLA quarterback Tommy Maddox was outstanding in defeat, outplaying his counterpart, Musgrave, a senior playing his last game at home, where he has a 19-1 career record.
Maddox, a redshirt freshman, wasn't intimidated by a noisy crowd of 45,901.
Operating primarily out of a shotgun formation, Maddox completed 21 of 34 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was particularly effective in the first half when he completed 15 of 20 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Musgrave completed 14 of 23 passes for 224 yards and one touchdown and an interception.
Denny Schuler, Oregon's defensive coordinator, said that Maddox was the best quarterback the Ducks have faced this year. That assessment includes Brigham Young's Ty Detmer, regarded as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
For UCLA, though, it was a bitter defeat and one full of missed opportunities.
Reggie Moore, the usually reliable split end, dropped two apparent touchdown passes and the Bruins couldn't even get the center snap off on a field-goal try in the first half.
But the turning point play was the pass interference call against Lambert with 6:25 remaining.
Musgrave, under pressure from a safety blitz by Matt Darby, threw a pass that fell harmlessly behind Jones.
But an official, presumably side judge Gary Hirst, dropped a flag.
"The official told me that the defensive back had both hands on the receiver," Donahue said. "I told him that I hoped he was right because it was a huge call that influenced the game."
"I was very shocked," Lambert said. "I was playing bump-and-run and we were both slapping hands. I didn't interfere with him. The call wasn't fair."
Jones, from Lakewood High, wasn't sure he was fouled.
"He was playing bump-and-run and a bump threw me off balance," Jones said. "I wasn't sure it was pass interference, but the referee threw the flag."
In any event, it was an emotional lift for the Ducks, who had been generally outplayed by the Bruins until that point.
Fullback Juan Shedrick scored from the two-yard line and then another fullback, Ngalu Kelemeni, got the two-point conversion on a run.
So the Ducks trailed by only 24-21.
After the kickoff, the Bruins, who had been diversified offensively earlier with first-down passes, became conservative from their 20-yard line.
Two running plays gained four yards and Maddox's third down pass to Shawn Wills was one yard short of a first down.
So Courtney Keyler punted and Oregon's Brian Brown returned the ball 24 yards to the UCLA 45.
A screen pass by Musgrave to Sean Burwell gained 28 yards to the Bruin 17.
Then, on third-and-nine at the 16, Musgrave faked a screen pass and threw to tight end Vince Ferry, who was alone at the five-yard line and went into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
UCLA still had two minutes left. However, Maddox was sacked for a four-yard loss on first down from his 25-yard line and two passes intended for split end Sean LaChapelle were incomplete, the wide receiver catching the second out of bounds.
On fourth down, with 1:14 remaining, Maddox tried to go deep to Reggie Moore, but he was securely covered by cornerback Devon Hosey.
Oregon then took over at the UCLA 21 and was content to run out the clock.
Donahue didn't fault the effort of his team. "We'll keep trying. I guarantee you that," he said. "Credit goes to my good friend (Oregon Coach) Rich Brooks. If anyone deserves success, it's him."
Said Brooks: "We had some luck. I'm very fortunate to sit here as a winning coach today. But it's about time. We were on our heels the whole day. I thought UCLA did a tremendous job offensively. They had a very good game plan and executed it extremely well."
UCLA's game plan was to pass repeatedly on first down and keep Oregon's five defensive backs off the field.
The strategy worked, especially in the first half, as Maddox was seven for seven on first-down passes for 70 yards. UCLA led at halftime, 17-7.
UCLA drove 89 and 67 yards for touchdowns in the first half and Brad Daluiso added a 27-yard field goal. Quarterback Tommy Maddox threw scoring passes of 13 yards to Scott Miller and nine yards to Reggie Moore. . . . After Oregon closed to 17-13 in the fourth quarter, Maddox teamed with Miller on a 62-yard scoring pass play. the wide receiver juggled the ball at the Oregon 47, then went down the sideline with running back Shawn Wills as an escort.
Early in the second quarter, Moore dropped Maddox's third-down pass in the end zone. On fourth down from the three-yard line, Daluiso lined up for a field goal. The ball never came back from center Derek Stevens. Stevens said the ball simply stuck on him on the OmniTurf surface.