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UCLA is road burned

Bruins make it close at Oregon but suffer 12th loss in last 15 away games, 31-24.

October 12, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli proved to be a little too slippery for UCLA to handle.

Rick Neuheisel's return to Eugene proved to be a little less than historic.

And the Bruins offense, while it proved it could score on the road, produced too little, too late.

All that played out in a 31-24 Oregon victory at Autzen Stadium, where 58,728 fans came to see the Ducks win and Neuheisel lose Saturday night, yet were also given a scare when Bruins receiver Terrence Austin had to be taken off the field after being hit from behind in the fourth quarter.

Austin was taken to River Bend Hospital with what was believed to be a neck injury, but Bruins officials said he was conscious and moving his extremities. Tests were negative and he was scheduled to return home with the team.

The end result of the game was the Bruins' fifth consecutive road loss and their 12th in the last 15 games away from home.

Masoli made sure the Bruins' road woes continued. He dipped and darted his way upfield throughout the evening, rushing for 170 yards. He scored one touchdown rushing and threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Chris Harper.

UCLA (2-4 overall, 1-2 in Pacific 10 Conference play) rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit, getting to within seven points four times in the second half, the last time on a one-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Craft to Jeff Miller with 55 seconds left.

"This really hurts," UCLA linebacker Reggie Carter said. "To be this close after making so many mistakes, we should have won this game."

There were head-slapping moments the Bruins will have to relive on film. They failed to recover an onside kick after pulling to within a touchdown midway through the third quarter. The Ducks capitalized on the field position with a short drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount.

A 28-yard field goal by Kai Forbath got the Bruins to within 24-17 with 2 minutes 46 seconds left in the game. On Oregon's next play, Blount went 69 yards for a 31-17 lead.

The Ducks rushed for 323 yards.

"There are a lot of things we're not going to like when we see the tape," Neuheisel said. "But I thought the level of intensity we showed in the second half can be a standard setter for us to build on."

Neuheisel came in toting a 4-1 record against the Ducks from his previous coaching stops at Colorado and Washington, which included a handful of moments that earned him the ire of Oregon fans.

A few more Ducks victories might improve Neuheisel's standing in the Eugene community, but he said, "That's not going to happen. I guess I'll have to find another way to win them over."

Ducks fans had little time to heckle Neuheisel in the second half, as the Bruins pushed Oregon.

UCLA's offense, overmatched in the first half, found solid footing in the third quarter, jump-started by two big plays by Austin.

The junior from Long Beach returned a punt 31 yards to give the Bruins the ball at the Oregon 34. Craft hit a 24-yard pass to Taylor Embree, then Derrick Coleman dived into the end zone from one yard to cut the Oregon lead to 14-7.

After Blount's first touchdown restored Oregon's lead to 14 points, Austin caught a short pass, broke a tackle and went 27 yards, with a 15-yard personal-foul penalty getting tacked on at the end. Craft got the Bruins closer with a 20-yard pass to the Oregon five-yard line. The Ducks appeared to stop the drive, but a pass-interference penalty erased an interception by Jairus Byrd. Kahlil Bell scored on a one-yard run to cut the Oregon lead to 21-14.

The Bruins lost Austin in the fourth quarter, when he was leveled from behind by Oregon defensive back T.J. Ward while leaping for a high pass.

Austin lay on the field after being hit and left the field on a backboard on a motorized cart.

"Terrence was moving his extremities and conscious and talking," Neuheisel said. "The doctors said this was precautionary."

Oregon's no-huddle spread offense left little margin for error on defense.

The Ducks kept the Bruins guessing, and Masoli used that hesitation to his advantage. He had 128 yards rushing by halftime.

In the first quarter Oregon drove 70 yards in nine plays, with Masoli gaining 30 in five carries. He scored on a five-yard run, faking defensive end Korey Bosworth at the four, then walking into the end zone.

Masoli finished the half by flicking the touchdown pass to Harper, whose diving catch in the back of the end zone resulted in a 14-0 lead.

--

chris.foster@latimes.com

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