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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Bruins Are Motivated to Respond After Loss

September 30, 2006|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

UCLA had several dramatic come-from-behind victories last season, but the one that stands out more than the rest is a 30-27 overtime win over Stanford, the team the Bruins play tonight at the Rose Bowl at 7:15.

Trailing 24-3 midway through the fourth quarter at Stanford Stadium, UCLA rallied to tie the score at the end of regulation and win it on a touchdown pass from Drew Olson to Brandon Breazell.

The victory helped propel UCLA to the Sun Bowl, where it capped a 10-2 season. For the Cardinal, the defeat represented only part of the frustration during a 5-6 season that had more heartbreaks than celebrations.

"On offense, we kind of rope-a-doped and ended up with a 24-3 lead," said Stanford Coach Walt Harris, whose team went 1-3 after losing to the Bruins last season. "Our defense obviously played really well. Then on offense we had trouble making first downs and we had trouble stopping them."

It all fell apart fast. The Cardinal had a 21-point lead with 8 minutes 26 seconds left in regulation -- and it disappeared in Bruins scoring drives covering 65, 72 and 66 yards that took a combined 3:40.

"We just let the opportunity slip away," Stanford defensive end Chris Horn said. "I've never been involved in anything that drastic. It's a game of momentum and they just got it. We could just never take it back."

Kelton Lynn, Stanford's top receiver this season, did not play much against UCLA last year, but he felt the pain just the same.

"It was tough to watch," Lynn said, "and I was wishing I could do something to help us. But that wasn't my role at the time. Hopefully, I will get the chance to help us [today]."

Stanford will face a UCLA team smarting from its own disappointing loss. Last week, the Bruins blew a 16-point lead in a 29-19 defeat at Washington. For Coach Karl Dorrell, it was not only his first loss to the Huskies but also his first defeat in a Pacific 10 Conference opener.

The Bruins, 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-10, are determined to show that they have learned from the loss.

They say they no longer will they take things for granted. Or, as sophomore quarterback Ben Olson said this week, "We're ready to unleash the beast."

Junior running back Chris Markey leads the conference in rushing and is eighth in the nation, averaging 121.3 yards a game. In UCLA's last two games, Markey has rushed for 332 yards.

Defensive end Justin Hickman is second in the Pac-10 with four sacks, and the Bruins' defense is giving up an average of only 71.3 yards on the ground.

"We're actually playing pretty well," UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said of his unit, which ranks third in the Pac-10 in average total yards given up at 240. "Against Washington, we had three takeaways and gave up under 50 yards rushing, but we lost the game. And that's what counts."

Stanford, 0-4 overall, 0-2 in the Pac-10, has been dealing with hurt all season. The Cardinal has been blown out in three games and lost another after leading by 20 points.

Edwards, a three-year starter, ranks sixth on Stanford's all-time lists with 468 completions and 829 passes. This season, he has completed 62.5% of his passes for 842 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions.

It's Edwards' experience that makes the Cardinal offense dangerous, according to Walker.

"The scary thing about them is that Walt Harris is a big-time coach, who I have a great deal of respect for," Walker said. "Obviously, they have smart players and can do a lot of things....

"I'm not buying into that stuff that this should be an easy game for us. I'm not buying that at all."

But Edwards will be working without his top receivers, Evan Moore and Mark Bradford, who will not play because of injuries. He will have to rely heavily on Lynn, a walk-on who has 11 catches for 137 yards.

On defense, Stanford has been weak against the run, giving up 312 yards a game, worst in the Pac-10. But the Cardinal is getting better as top players return from injury.

Senior linebacker Michael Okwo is rounding into shape after sitting out the first two games because of a hand injury, and junior lineman Pannel Egboh is a force up front after coming back from a broken leg.

Stanford players say they are ready to pull off an upset.

"I don't really think we need any other source of motivation right now," Lynn said, "other than that we are playing for each other and really want to execute and play well."

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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