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Quarterback Duel Affair of Hart

On a big day for the high school in Newhall, UCLA's Moore and Stanford's Matter lead their teams at the Rose Bowl.

October 27, 2002|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

With helmets off and the game over, Matt Moore of UCLA and Kyle Matter of Stanford hugged at the 30-yard line, finally able to rid themselves of any pretense that they were somehow enemies just because their uniforms were different. Deep down, these two quarterbacks from Newhall Hart High were pulling for each other from beginning to end on a strange day at the Rose Bowl.

Add the fact that another ex-Hart quarterback, Kyle Boller, was starting for California in Corvallis, Ore., and it was enough to leave mutual friends in a frenzy.

UCLA Coach Bob Toledo was happy to start an argument about which quarterback is best after the Bruins' 28-18 victory over Stanford.

"I'm pleased with the one we got," he said. "We took him out of his redshirt year, and for him to do that and win this game made it worth while. He had so much poise out there. He didn't panic at all."

Moore, an 18-year-old freshman, completed seven of 19 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown in his college debut. He didn't throw an interception. Not once was UCLA penalized for delay of game. "I was pumped up," Moore said.

A week ago, he was sitting at home watching UCLA's game against California on television. This was supposed to be the year devoted to adding weight to his 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame and running the scout team. But starting quarterback Cory Paus broke his fibula, backup Drew Olson injured his shoulder, and Moore was asked to step in with just a week of practice. He had the time of his life.

"I wish I could have hit a couple more passes than I did," he said. "I overthrew a couple balls."

Meanwhile, Matter, a redshirt freshman, was filling in for an injured Chris Lewis and had to face a relentless UCLA pass rush that resulted in six sacks. He completed 10 of 22 passes for 75 yards with one interception. Twice he broke off scrambles of 22 and 21 yards, something he rarely did in high school when he led Hart to consecutive Southern Section Division III championships.

"Pressure makes everything more difficult," Matter said. "I did my best to hang in there, but it gets to you."

Stanford defensive players thought they had the advantage in facing Moore in his first game. They hoped to rattle him, but he never gave in.

"I was amazed," Stanford defensive tackle Matt Leonard said. "He played like a veteran. I didn't see any freshman in him. I think he did a tremendous job and is probably going to be a big asset for them in the future."

Toledo simplified UCLA's game plan trying to make sure the offense didn't require Moore to carry the team to victory. Tyler Ebell helped out with 160 yards rushing.

But Toledo didn't shy away from calling passes in difficult situations. Moore showed his arm strength on a 49-yard pass to Tab Perry.

Afterward, the two former teammates tried to explain their emotions. "It was a little weird," Moore said. "The last time I talked to him on a football field we were teammates."

Added Matter: "It was a strange feeling, but I'm happy he did well."

Moore wanted to brag about three Hart quarterbacks starting for Pacific 10 schools on the same day.

"A lot of people say it's the system," he said. "This proves it's not."

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