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Bruins' One-Man Defense Not Enough

October 23, 1994|ARA NAJARIAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TUCSON — After Arizona scored its last touchdown in Saturday's 34-24 victory over UCLA, Bruin linebacker Donnie Edwards walked away from the end zone all alone.

It wasn't the first time.

In a game where UCLA's defense was run over time and again, Edwards made his own defensive stand time and again.

His hit on Arizona quarterback Dan White caused a fumble to set up UCLA's first touchdown, which tied the score.

The next series, when Arizona drove to UCLA's eight-yard line, Edwards poked the ball out of Ontiwaun Carter's grasp to stall the drive.

In all, he had a game-high 16 tackles. Fourteen were solo tackles, six for losses.

In all, it wasn't nearly enough. UCLA gave up 427 yards, nearly six per play.

"The individual effort doesn't count unless you win," Edwards said. "Third-down conversions just killed us. Washington did this to us and so did Arizona. . . . Third and long and we just give it to them."

Indeed, Arizona converted 12 third-down situations.

"This year the world is like a cloud," Edwards said. "Last year, we went to the Rose Bowl and it was the total opposite. Every day was like a sunny day."

Although he has been a starter since midway through his freshman season, Edwards played in the shadow of Jamir Miller the last two years. His chance to shine this year has been in the shadow of a 2-6 season.

And things were just as bad as they seemed when he awoke for Saturday's game.

Edwards felt under the weather. Unlike the rest of the UCLA defense, he had an excuse for playing as if his head were in a fog.

"I woke up sick, with flu-like (symptoms) this morning," he said. "The first half I had trouble breathing. I don't remember much about (White's fumble) because I was dazed by my own hit. The fumble is the last thing I remember about that play."

It was a forgettable day for the defense even on the good plays.

"At that time, though, I felt we had the ball rolling our way," Edwards said. "I just knew we were going to win. But it just rolled back the other way."

Despite being sick, Edwards played to the end of the game. It was his third sack of White, with 13 minutes to play, that gave UCLA its last hope.

The sack was one of the few third-down situations on which the Bruins stopped the Wildcats. It was third and five from the UCLA 18. The sack forced Arizona to kick a 44-yard field goal and kept the Bruins within 24-17.

His efforts were noticed by the Wildcats.

"Donnie Edwards played a great game," Arizona running back Gary Taylor said. "We tried running a lot of counter plays, but they did a good job of plugging those."

For White, seeing Edwards in his backfield was a little too familiar.

White and Edwards went to high schools that were near each other in San Diego. White attended Point Loma and Edwards went to Chula Vista. Although the schools played each other, Edwards said he never actually played against White except in basketball.

"It was weird playing against him a few years later on down the road," White said. "I played in the same league as Donnie and guys like J.J. Stokes. So I knew they were good players."

Edwards managed his first postgame smile and said: "Well, we beat him in basketball in the playoffs at least."

This season, UCLA won't be participating in the post-season.

"USC is going to be our bowl game now," Edwards said. "Obviously, we're not going to any bowl games."

When reminded that the Bruins play two other games before they play USC, Edwards became even more serious.

"No doubt, first we need a win against Stanford," he said. "We need a win badly."

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