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COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 10 | NOTES

Poli-Dixon Wants Team in Sync

November 08, 1998|DIANE PUCIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CORVALLIS, Ore. — His teeth were chattering, his hands were shaking and Brian Poli-Dixon could hardly keep his frozen fingers around the pen that a little boy had handed him. "Could you sign your glove and give it to me?" the little boy in the Oregon State cap asked.

Poli-Dixon already had given away his glove, though, and he had used up every ounce of his energy, mental and physical.

The UCLA flanker had accumulated a career-high nine catches in this confounded football game that had, once again, come down to the very end before his Bruins had won it. Nine catches for 82 yards, hard-earned yards in mostly little chunks, the longest grab covering 15 yards.

There were no touchdowns for Poli-Dixon in UCLA's 41-34 victory over Oregon State, but in this game that wasn't decided until the final 20 seconds, a game in which every inch mattered and in a season in which every point counts, Poli-Dixon isn't measuring his catches or his touchdowns or any of his statistics. At least he wasn't Saturday night.

No, as Poli-Dixon walked slowly off the Parker Stadium field, he was day-dreaming a bit.

"This is getting a little frustrating," the sophomore from Tucson said. "It seems like one game the offense is great, another game the defense is great. Or one quarter the offense is great and one quarter the defense is great. I just wish that we could have everything come together in one game one time."

Poli-Dixon said he saw on the scoreboard during the second quarter that Michigan State had upset Ohio State, which meant his Bruins were in position to move back into one of the top two positions in the rankings that will determine who plays in the Fiesta Bowl. "But that almost doesn't matter," Poli-Dixon said. "We need to still play better."

*

Never mind the score, the stakes or the strategy. UCLA kept kicking off to Oregon State return man Tim Alexander, and he kept burning the Bruins.

Alexander finished with five returns for 171 yards, including a 38-yard romp late in the game that set up the Beavers' tying field goal.

Explanation, please?

"They're a good ballclub, they don't care who they kick to," Alexander reasoned after the game. "Me being back there didn't scare UCLA."

It should have.

*

Oregon State Coach Mike Riley said that this loss might have been a little easier to take than other recent heartbreakers.

"It's not the same as the last two," Riley said. "This game had two teams fighting back and forth until the end. We just gave up the big play at the wrong time.

"This time we would have been excited to go into overtime. I bet this one was a fun game to watch. I wish I could have enjoyed it more."

Apparently Oregon State fans enjoyed it more on TV too. There were plenty of empty seats.

*

Saturday's defeat guarantees that Oregon State (4-6) will not finish the season with a winning record. The Beavers have not enjoyed a winning season since they went 6-5 in 1970 under Dee Andros.

With a victory over Oregon on Nov. 21, however, Oregon State can finish with five wins, the most since going 5-6 in 1971.

"I'm really sick," Riley said. "We missed a great opportunity for a big, big win."

Said Beaver quarterback Jonathan Smith: "You don't like moral victories three weeks in a row."

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