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Bruins Go to Drew for Long Run, 20-13

October 26, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

There were glimpses of his potential Sept. 20 at Oklahoma, when he returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter of a blowout loss to the top-ranked Sooners.

But Saturday night, Maurice Drew went from a short subject to a full-length feature, the UCLA freshman tailback showing the quickness, the speed, the power and the durability that have Bruin coaches and fans so excited about his future.

Drew turned a simple off-tackle play midway through the third quarter into a blazing 83-yard touchdown run, erasing a three-point UCLA deficit and leading the Bruins to a 20-13 Pacific 10 Conference victory over Arizona State before 61,778 in the Rose Bowl.

Drew, filling in for starter Manuel White, who suffered a season-ending injury in the second quarter when he fractured his right shoulder blade, rushed for 176 yards in 18 carries -- all in the second half -- as UCLA won its fifth consecutive game, improved to 6-2 overall and remained in a first-place tie with Washington State at 4-0 in the conference.

"He ran with great power and really got into a groove," UCLA offensive coordinator Steve Axman said of Drew, a 5-foot-8, 200-pounder from Concord De La Salle High. "He was finding holes and squeezing through. He's a tremendous talent. He's starting to play like not-a-rookie anymore, and that's what we need."

In addition to his scoring run, which gave UCLA a 17-13 lead with 8:45 left in the third quarter, Drew picked up two crucial first downs on the Bruins' final possession, with runs of six and 13 yards, enabling UCLA to run out the clock.

Quarterback Matt Moore, making his first start since the season opener at Colorado, when he was knocked out in the first quarter because of a left knee injury, completed 14 of 28 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown, and receiver Craig Bragg caught five passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, but Drew was the star.

"You love blocking for a guy like that," UCLA offensive tackle Steve Vieira said. "It's exciting. It's what we live for. He made us look real good tonight."

The Bruins entered the game with a conference-worst 90.3-yard rushing average, a mark that placed them 114th among 117 Division I-A schools nationally, but UCLA accumulated a season-high 213 yards rushing Saturday night.

Drew became the first true freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game since DeShaun Foster ran for 109 yards against USC in 1998. His touchdown was the longest run by a true freshman in school history and tied him for the ninth-longest run in school history.

"He was the hot back," UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said. "He was a big reason why we won the game. He provided a punch for us."

Justin Medlock provided a kick, booting a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter and a 44-yard field goal in the fourth, bookend scores between Moore's 25-yard touchdown pass to Bragg at the end of the first quarter and Drew's touchdown run in the third.

On Drew's scoring play, flanker Ryan Smith went in motion toward the right side and Drew ran off left tackle, finding a seam, bursting past the line and blowing by the Sun Devil secondary.

"The line pushed everyone down, and there was nothing but grass in front of me," Drew said. "I bounced outside and ran as fast as I could."

UCLA took full advantage of an ankle injury that knocked out Arizona State starting quarterback Andrew Walter with six minutes left in the second quarter, blanking the Sun Devils and frazzled freshman quarterback Sam Keller and limiting the Sun Devils to three first downs and 52 total yards in the second half.

Still, after Drew's touchdown run, a critical UCLA turnover gave Arizona State a chance to take the lead late in the third. Moore was hit by Sun Devil tackle Brian Montesanto as he tried to throw, and his short pop-up of a pass was easily picked off by end Jimmy Verdon, giving Arizona State possession at the UCLA 25-yard line.

But on the next play, Loren Wade, who scored on a 61-yard run in the second quarter, lost possession of the ball as he burst threw the line, and his fumble was recovered by Bruin linebacker Justin London at the 19.

"We are real fortunate and happy we were able to win this one," Dorrell said, repeating a familiar refrain for a team that has won three other games this season by three points, each coming when the opponent missed a potential game-tying field goal in the final minutes.

"I'm very proud of what our team did today. They were able to battle back and put points on the board and shut out another team."Moore's first pass of the night -- a quick out to Bragg on UCLA's first offensive play -- was turned into a 52-yard gain by Bragg, who slipped by Sun Devil cornerback R.J. Oliver and raced down the left sideline to the Arizona State 11. Five plays later, Medlock kicked his 41-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

Moore connected with Bragg again at the end of the first quarter, lofting a 25-yard pass to the left side of the end zone for Bragg, who outjumped Oliver for the touchdown and a 10-3 Bruin lead.

Wade's 61-yard touchdown run with 8:13 left in the second quarter made it 10-10, and Jesse Ainsworth's second field goal of the night, a 33-yarder with 13 seconds left in the second, gave Arizona State a 13-10 lead.

But by then, Arizona State's Walter and UCLA's White were out of the game.

And the Drew Carry Show was about to begin.

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