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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 10

This One Sounded Better

October 29, 2000|BILL SHAIKIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TUCSON — How did the Bruins know they had finally won a road game? The sounds of silence, finally.

When UCLA lost at Oregon last month, the Oregon fans serenaded the Bruins with a chorus of "OVER-RATED" chants. When UCLA lost at California two weeks ago, the Cal fans stormed the field in raucous celebration.

When UCLA defensive lineman Dave Ball tipped the ball into the air Saturday, he ended up on the ground. He didn't know fellow lineman Rodney Leisle had grabbed the loose ball for an interception. He didn't know the Bruins were 10 seconds, and one snap, away from their first road victory in two years.

"But it was pretty quiet, so something had to be up," Ball said.

The ball was the last desperate heave of Arizona quarterback Ortege Jenkins, the last of his career-high four interceptions.

"I saw it in the air. It was going end over end, so I just grabbed it," Leisle said. "I knew everybody was going to come over and start hanging all over me. I was just trying to catch my breath before they did.

"It was a great feeling."

So great, in fact, that the 293-pound Leisle returned the interception three yards before falling to the ground.

Said Coach Bob Toledo: "That big nose guard of ours is going to want to play defensive back now."

No longer will the Bruins need to explain why they cannot win on the road. The Bruins ended an eight-game road losing streak, one shy of the school record, dating back to the 49-45 loss to Miami in 1998 that eliminated UCLA from the national championship game.

"We got that monkey off our back," receiver Freddie Mitchell said.

Notes

Defensive lineman Mat Ball, who suffered a broken hand eight days ago against Oregon State, did not play. Twin brother Dave started for him, becoming the fourth player to start at left defensive end. Kenyon Coleman and Sean Phillips, also out with injuries, have also started at that position. At right defensive end, Rusty Williams has started all eight games despite shoulder and foot injuries. . . . Freddie Mitchell said he was hurting from taking a hit in his back but played on. "You're not supposed to let a defensive back know you felt him," he said. . . . Brian Poli-Dixon, who grew up in Tucson but spurned the Wildcats to attend UCLA, had three receptions for 43 yards on the Bruins' first drive and had a touchdown catch on the next drive. "It was nice to win in my final trip to Tucson," the junior said. The Bruins and Wildcats do not face each other next season. Poli-Dixon and offensive lineman Mike Saffer, also from Tucson, were two of the UCLA captains Saturday. . . . The Bruins moved into a tie for fifth place in the Pacific 10 Conference standings. The top five teams in the Pac-10 get guaranteed bowl bids, and the Bruins will become eligible for bowl play with one victory in their final three games.

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