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Looking back

Peete made a smooth transition to defense

December 01, 2007|Lonnie White

The USC vs. UCLA rivalry has produced many legendary players who are remembered for great offensive plays in the series -- from O.J. Simpson's 64-yard touchdown run in 1967 to Gaston Green's 224 yards and four rushing touchdowns in 1986 to Erik Affholter's debated touchdown catch in 1987.

But the rivalry also has had more than its share of stars on defense, starting with last year's instant legend, UCLA's Eric McNeal. This week, The Times provides a look back at six memorable defensive efforts in the series.

USC's Rodney Peete, 1987

USC quarterback Rodney Peete was never known to have 4.3-seconds-in-the-40 type speed, but he showed UCLA's Eric Turner his ability to make a play on defense.

Behind quarterback Troy Aikman, the Bruins had won nine of 10 games before playing USC in 1987, and with a victory over the Trojans, UCLA was in line to win the Pacific 10 Conference's spot in the Rose Bowl.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, December 11, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
College football: A feature in the Dec. 1 Sports section that looked back at the 1987 USC-UCLA game said the Trojans rallied to a 17-10 come-from-behind victory. It was a 17-13 victory.

Under Larry Smith, who replaced Ted Tollner as head coach after the 1986 season, USC entered with a 7-3 record and also had a chance to win the conference title with a win over the Bruins.

UCLA controlled play for most of the first half and led, 10-0, late in the second quarter when Peete led USC deep into Bruins territory. With four seconds remaining, Peete had a pass deflected into the hands of Turner at the goal line.

Turner appeared to headed for a touchdown when Peete doggedly ran him down, catching Turner after an 89-yard chase that ended at the USC 11-yard line.

The play helped inspire the Trojans in the second half. With Peete completing touchdown passes to Randy Tanner and Affholter, USC rallied to a 17-10 come-from-behind victory.

Peete not only made the defensive play of the game, he also won the quarterback matchup.

While Aikman completed 11 of 26 passes for 171 yards and had three passes intercepted, Peete completed 23 of 35 passes for 304 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

-- Lonnie White

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