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College Football | UCLA NOTES

Ebell Rushes to Top of Freshman List

November 03, 2002|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — Tyler Ebell's yardage total is climbing as fast as an Eminem CD.

The tailback became UCLA's all-time freshman rusher on a 22-yard run in the second quarter that keyed a drive that ended with his third touchdown of the game.

Ebell had 80 of his 102 yards by halftime against a Washington defense that had been surrendering a Pacific 10 Conference-best 79 yards a game. It was his fifth consecutive 100-yard performance, a feat surpassed only once at UCLA, by Gaston Green in 1986.

Ebell has 734 yards this season, surpassing the 706 gained by Eric Ball when he was a freshman in 1985. But the 5-foot-9, 170-pound back was happiest about scoring three times on one-yard runs.

"There were red-zone issues and short-yardage issues, and I'm glad we responded to that," he said. "I feel I can be dependable in short-yardage situations and I proved I could be."

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Ebell's punt returning duties might be over. At one time it was a way for him to get his hands on the ball. Now it is an unnecessary burden for a runner who has 153 carries in the last five games.

"It's a big load off my shoulders," he said.

Craig Bragg, another big-play threat, returned three punts for 63 yards, including a 48-yarder.

"We weren't going to use Bragg as much in the offense," Coach Bob Toledo said. "This was a way to get him more involved in the game."

For the season, Bragg is averaging 15.7 yards on six returns; Ebell is averaging 11.6 yards on 23 returns.

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Cornerback Matt Ware said his strained left hamstring should not sideline him for next week's game at Arizona. He left the game late in the second quarter and did not return.

"I sat on the bench during the second half with a towel on my head," he said. "I felt like I was letting my teammates down. But they really came through."

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Dave Ball extended his sack streak to seven games with a flourish, notching three.

The first came in the second quarter, the second came on the last play of the third quarter, but neither was as important as the last one.

With UCLA clinging to a 27-24 lead, Washington marched to the Bruin 31 when Ball brought down quarterback Cody Pickett for a 10-yard loss on second down. Brandon Chillar knocked down a pass on third down and the Huskies had to punt with 3:12 to play.

"I was trying to put on pressure by shortening the edge," he said. "I'm just feeling a little quicker every week."

Ball, a junior defensive end, has 10 sacks this season.

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A trick play -- the swinging gate -- that the Bruins worked on all week in practice helped quarterback Drew Olson overcome his nervousness and led to their first points.

On third and 17 from the Washington 43 in the first quarter, Olson walked up to the ball and pitched it to Junior Taylor, who was lined up behind a wall of blockers near the left hashmark.

Taylor, a freshman receiver, galloped 38 yards. UCLA had to settle for a field goal after Olson tripped and fell while dropping back on third down.

The play was called again in the third quarter, but a five-yard gain by Taylor was nullified because Bruin linemen were not set.

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Chris Singleton started at tailback for Washington only because Rich Alexis was injured. Now the job might be his for good.

The Husky running game, ranked last in the Pac-10, got a boost from the sophomore, who rushed for 92 yards in 20 carries. Singleton started the game with only 124 yards.

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