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It's No Gain for Injured Moore

September 07, 2003|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

BOULDER, Colo. — What had been painstakingly gained was painfully lost.

The starting job UCLA quarterback Matt Moore earned with a sensational training camp went back to Drew Olson less than 15 minutes into the season when Moore injured his left knee on a hit by Colorado's Brandon Dabdoub after releasing a pass.

One quarterback's misfortune is another's opportunity, something both Bruin sophomores acknowledged by explaining the shocking turn of events with the same phrase: "That's football."

Yes, the latest chapter in a saga that could become as long as a Craig Bragg fly pattern was indeed shocking, but it was not unexpected. Cory Paus, the quarterback the last four years, frequently was sidelined because of injury.

"The last few years we've had a lot of problems with quarterbacks going down," senior receiver Ryan Smith said. "It's frustrating."

Moore did his best to hide his frustration, patiently talking to reporters after the 16-14 loss while leaning on crutches. X-rays, he said, were negative, and the injury was described as a sprain, but not until an MRI exam is evaluated today or Monday will the extent of the damage be known.

"It was immediate, excruciating pain," he said. "But I was more in tears because I was so [angry] that it happened than because of the pain. It's bad. It's a bummer. It's definitely upsetting, to come out in the first game and have this happen."

Moore was unable to make his way to the stack of pizzas in the locker room, so he yelled to Olson: "Hey, Drew, could you grab me one? Cheese."

Olson, who started the last five games last season, replied in the affirmative, but he got distracted by a barrage of interview requests. He was no longer an errand boy, understudy, or whatever else second-stringers are called.

"You have to be ready to play, regardless of whether you are the backup or not," said Olson, who completed 13 of 23 passes for 164 yards.

He connected with Bragg on a 42-yard touchdown pass before halftime, tying the score, 7-7. Moore, who was lying on a bench at about the 20-yard line, saw the ball in the air.

Moore craned his neck, then plopped his head back on the bench. He was ecstatic for the team, but was struck by the helplessness of being injured. He lay there until halftime, seemingly forgotten, because the Folsom Field sideline was too narrow for a motorized cart to reach him. UCLA doctor Gerald Finerman examined the knee and told him the injury did not appear too serious.

"I was waiting for them to give me some news," said Moore, who completed four of seven passes for 41 yards.

He rejoined the team in the second half on crutches and watched while Olson threw a second touchdown pass -- this one to tight end Marcedes Lewis -- but failed to lead the Bruins on a scoring drive down the stretch.

"Drew came in and played pretty well," UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said. "I'm assuming Drew will be the starter next week because I think Matt's injury might be more significant than just a week."

When Moore does return, the job he worked so hard to win might have to be won all over again.

"I'm not thinking about that right now," Moore said as a Bruin trainer handed him the pizza. "That is a whole 'nother story."


UCLA linebacker Spencer Havner sat out the second half after spraining his right shoulder while diving to tackle Colorado running back Bobby Purify in the second quarter. Havner said he couldn't tell whether the injury was serious.... Colorado defensive end Marques Harris broke his leg in the fourth quarter and is out for the season.... UCLA linebacker Brandon Chillar had a team-leading 13 tackles, and linemen Dave Ball and Rodney Leisle each had two quarterback sacks.


Staff writer Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.

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