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Prince shows something to Neuheisel

November 02, 2009|Chris Foster

This was either a coming-of-age moment for UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince or a spasm out of necessity. Either way, it was a step forward.

Prince's solid second half Saturday against Oregon State, topped off by a locked-in fourth quarter, was about the first relentlessly positive moment for the Bruins in more than a month. He completed nine of 13 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

"I saw a quarterback sitting in the pocket, making throws down the field," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "He was composed despite the circumstances and was still able throw down the field. Whether deserved or not, the confidence will grow."

By that, Neuheisel said, he meant that sometimes teams will give up underneath completions while nursing a lead.

"Sometimes when you make a play, maybe the other team lets you make it by coming off coverage," Neuheisel said. "Whatever happens, you have the confidence to go out and do it. That's a huge benefit."

But Neuheisel said, "There was no accident. Oregon State was playing hard. Kevin made plays."

The performance would have meant more had the Bruins turned the comeback into a victory. Prince brought them back from a 19-3 deficit, tying the game with two minutes left. Oregon State then drove for the winning touchdown in a 26-19 win.

"Unfortunately, we didn't win," Neuheisel said. "That's the next step."

Prince has already taken quite a few steps. He is catching up with a season that was derailed by a fractured jaw against Tennessee, suffered when he was sent on a naked bootleg in his own end zone.

Against Oregon State, Prince had five completions of 20 or more yards, including a 58-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Rosario in the fourth quarter. It was the first touchdown pass for the Bruins since the fourth quarter against Kansas State, a span of nearly five games.

"You saw the fight in him, especially on that last drive," wide receiver Taylor Embree said. "He kept coming up with big plays and never gave up. He just ran out of time."

Neuheisel said that he will continue to get freshman quarterback Richard Brehaut moments in games.

Receiving end

Besides Prince putting up big numbers in the second half, the Bruins also received solid performances from wide receivers.

Rosario had six receptions for 152 yards. Besides his touchdown reception, he had a 45-yard catch that set up the Bruins' second touchdown. Rosario also caught a two-point conversion.

Embree, who was slowed by sprained thumbs earlier this season, had five receptions for 88 yards. His seven-yard touchdown catch pulled the Bruins within two, 19-17.

Both Rosario and Embree out-fought Oregon State defensive backs on the touchdown receptions.

"Kevin trusted us to go up and get passes," Embree said. "That was the first time we saw a quarterback really go to us like that."

Injury report

Cornerback Aaron Hester injured his right leg during the game, Neuheisel said, but X-rays were negative. Center Kai Maiva is not expected to miss time after suffering a hyper-extended right elbow. Tailback Johnathan Franklin "tweaked" his sore left ankle in the first quarter but returned to the game.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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