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UCLA Takes Rout 66

College football: McNown's five touchdown passes plus Longhorns' eight turnovers add up to 66-3 victory.

September 14, 1997|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

AUSTIN, Texas — Let's see now.

Start quickly. Check.

Play opportunistic defense. Check.

Harass the quarterback. Check.

Shut down the running game. Check.

Don't turn the ball over. Check.

Get a few breaks. Check.

Check this out: UCLA 66, No. 11 Texas 3.

A dagger, deep in the heart of Texas.

Go figure.

Longhorn Coach John Mackovic couldn't.

"This was a real eye-opener to a lot of things to us," he said Saturday. "It was more than an eye-opener. The only thing I can say is that I thought we had nine turnovers and it may have been only eight."

It was eight--four fumbles and four interceptions--and they led to 42 UCLA points in Texas' worst home loss since the Alamo and the Bruins' third-biggest victory.

What started as a conventional game--UCLA stops Texas, drives for a Cade McNown-to-Jim McElroy five-yard touchdown pass, stops the Longhorns, drives for a 44-yard Chris Sailer field goal--got unconventional in a hurry in the second quarter when the Bruins got a McNown-to-Skip Hicks touchdown pass of 43 yards; and a McNown-to-Mike Grieb touchdown pass of one yard.

The two scores came within 20 seconds of each other, both on one-play drives set up by turnovers. Quarterback Richard Walton fumbled when Jayson Brown sacked him and Kenyon Coleman recovered to set up the first. Walton threw a pass intercepted by Larry Atkins, who returned it 38 yards to the Texas one to set up the other.

Then the quick, merciful kill became long, drawn-out torture. The Bruins scored the first six times they had the ball.

Mackovic decided Walton, starting in place of injured James Brown, had been hammered enough and sent in Marty Cherry to try his hand.

Maybe it was the playbook, because Cherry's luck was no different. He threw an interception to Marques Anderson, the play giving freshman Anderson some satisfaction after being picked on relentlessly early in the game. Eight plays and 64 yards later, McNown had his fourth touchdown pass, of four yards to McElroy. That made the score 31-0.

Cherry fumbled when sacked by Eric Whitfield, and Damon Smith picked up the ball and returned it to the Texas 19.

Six plays later, McNown hit Grieb again, again for one yard, and set the UCLA touchdown passing record with five in a game.

Or in this case, five in a half in which he passed for only 140 yards.

"We had planned to get out front early and try to get the crowd out of the game," said McNown, who finished 15 of 23 for 202 yards.

The Bruins not only got the crowd out of the game, they got most of the spectators out of Memorial Stadium.

It was 38-0, and Texas fans set a school record of their own in getting out of the 93-degree heat. When the game started, 77,203 were around to sing the "Eyes of Texas" and they were wide open. By the end of the worst home loss in Longhorn history, maybe 10,000 were around to sing the song, and some of the eyes had tears in them.

It was a complete reversal of UCLA fortune. The Bruins had fallen behind Washington State and Tennessee and had rallies fall short.

Now they were ahead, 38-0, and in uncharted territory.

"At halftime . . . I told our team they were down, 24-0, as they stormed back on the field," Coach Bob Toledo said. "They believed me. They're not that smart, see."

They were about as smart in the second half as in the first.

Ricky Williams fumbled on Texas' first series of the third quarter, and UCLA used two plays to cover the nine yards Hicks needed to make the score 45-0.

Texas (1-1) ran its scoring streak to 192 games--second in the NCAA to Brigham Young's 277--with a 35-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, but that was the last time a Longhorn foot met the ball.

UCLA scored twice after stopping Texas on fourth-down plays in Longhorn territory and the capper was Damian Allen's 40-yard interception return with 4:01 to play.

"We'll remember the feeling of this game when we play them out there next year," Texas linebacker Aaron Humphrey said. "It was 38-0, and they're still passing the ball to run it up."

Actually, the Bruins were running the ball to run it up and playing opportunistic defense to run it up.

"Sometimes, when the landslide starts, it's hard to get it stopped," Toledo said, commiserating with Mackovic, his friend of 30 years.

But even commiseration has its limits.

"I feel bad for John in that sense," Toledo said, "but I do hope that in our recruiting efforts in Texas, some of these guys will remember that."

He said the Bruins are looking at "about two dozen" players from Texas and that a 66-3 victory over the Longhorns will cause a few of them to look back.

Or maybe they'll figure the Longhorns need help.

"I think everyone was embarrassed, but what do you say?" Mackovic said. "It hurts when you're standing there and can't do anything."

For UCLA, the embarrassment is over after three games and going into a bye week.

"A lot of people give up on us, but we don't give up on ourselves," Toledo said. "They know they're a good football team. I think going into the league [against Arizona] in two weeks . . . our team knows that we're two scores away from being an undefeated football team and maybe a top 15, maybe a top 10 team.

"They're playing with a lot of confidence. They're not listening to the talk shows, and reading the newspapers and hearing things that they don't need to be hearing. They're listening to the coaches and doing what we're asking them to do and doing it well."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Bruin Blowouts

\o7 Ten biggest UCLA wins, by margin of victory \f7 *--*

Margin Score Opponent Date 72 72-0 Stanford 10-16-54 67 67-0 San Diego NTC 9-8-54 65 65-0 La Verne 11-17-28 63 66-3 Texas 9-13-97 61 61-0 Oregon State 10-23-54 59 62-3 Washington St. 10-16-76 57 57-0 Oregon State 11-8-52 56 63-7 Pittsburgh 9-21-68 54 68-14 Brigham Young 10-9-93 54 61-7 Montana 11-16-46

*--*

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