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Looking back

Morgan saved day for Bruins

November 30, 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.

UCLA's football program began a new era in 1982 when the Bruins moved their home games to the Rose Bowl after sharing the Coliseum with USC for 53 years.

UCLA's Karl Morgan, 1982

In the last game to feature both teams wearing home "dark" jerseys, UCLA entered 8-1-1 but needed a win over USC and victories by Washington State and Arizona in order to go to the Rose Bowl.

USC entered with a 7-2 record but because of rule violations, the school was on probation and could not play in a bowl game even if the Trojans defeated UCLA.

The big story at USC was the status of Coach John Robinson, who would step down after the season to join the school's administration. (He later became coach of the Los Angeles Rams.)

In front of 95,763 at the Rose Bowl, UCLA quarterback Tom Ramsey was sharp early and helped the Bruins jump out to a 14-3 lead. USC responded behind Todd Spencer's touchdown run. Then UCLA -- which found out during the game that Arizona and Washington State were leading -- scored again to take a 20-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

That's when the Trojans took over. Led by quarterback Scott Tinsley, who completed several key passes to Jeff Simmons and Tim White, USC had two lengthy drives over the final 12 minutes. The first ended with a field goal and on the second the Trojans had a fourth and goal at the UCLA four-yard line with three seconds remaining in regulation.

Tinsley completed the drive with a touchdown pass to tight end Mark Boyer and then, instead of kicking a game-tying point to keep UCLA out of the Rose Bowl, Robinson opted for the two-point conversion.

With no time remaining, Tinsley dropped back and before he could deliver a pass, UCLA's Karl Morgan ripped through for a sack to preserve the Bruins' 20-19 win.

UCLA went on to beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl -- all made possible by Morgan's memorable defensive play.


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