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Huskies Play Take-Away

Bruins learn how quickly a 16-point lead can disappear, and Howell's interception return for a touchdown is the capper.

September 24, 2006|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — UCLA quarterback Ben Olson felt the momentum shift, again and again.

It was about as subtle as the crushing sack Washington's Tahj Bomar laid on him from behind on third and 10 from the Huskies' 14-yard line in the fourth quarter.

And sometimes it was as sudden as when Dan Howell picked off a bad pass by Olson and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown and a 10-point lead with six minutes to play.

UCLA was seemingly cruising to a blowout victory in the first half Saturday. But Washington, which had won only five games in the past three seasons, capitalized on UCLA's failure to put the game away and sent the Husky Stadium crowd into a roaring, barking frenzy as the home team came back for a 29-19 victory.

"We haven't had this feeling for a while," said Bomar, a senior. "Not since I've been here."

UCLA's Olson will be feeling it for a while, himself.

"Any time you see the quarterback get his head knocked off, it's cool," he said, managing a wan smile after being sacked three times, getting two passes intercepted and completing 18 of 31 for 135 yards.

"It was definitely a loud environment, but we let the crowd back in the game."

Washington was down, 16-0, early in the second quarter, and it seemed as if UCLA might win by 40.

Instead, the red zone turned into the dead zone for UCLA, which wasted away on a diet of field goals.

"We're not going to win games in this conference if we don't score touchdowns," UCLA running back Chris Markey said. "This conference is too good for us to win with field goals."

The Bruins looked as if they might, for a while. But when Washington finally forced UCLA to punt on the Bruins' fifth possession, the Huskies started to get more confident.

Later, Washington converted two third-and-longs, the second one on a 23-yard touchdown pass with 1:12 left in the half.

"They gained some momentum late in the second quarter and got a score for them, and really changed the complexion of the game," UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said. "The second half, we just didn't get into the rhythm we had in the first half. We made some positive plays, but it just wasn't the same."

Especially not once the Washington fans got rolling.

"It was definitely the loudest crowd I ever played in front of," said Olson, making his first collegiate road start.

Howell said the fans seemed to take their toll on the Bruins.

"They made them jump once or twice," he said. "You could tell the crowd was starting to affect them, especially when we started making plays late in the game."

Olson didn't give the crowd that much credit.

"I can't throw interceptions. That's not the way to help your team win," he said.

The last one was devastating.

"I tried to put a little something on it and the ball slipped out of my hand and I threw it right to him," he said.

One of UCLA's last chances to take back the momentum came after freshman Terrence Austin's 79-yard punt return to the Washington nine-yard line in the third quarter. Then UCLA went three and out, and Justin Medlock kicked a 22-yard field goal, his fourth and last, to give the Bruins a 19-14 lead.

Said Olson: "It's one thing to get pounded and lose, but to know you should have won.... The whole game of football is a very 'momentous' game. "

"It can change just like that."

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robyn.norwood@latimes.com

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