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NO. 13 OREGON 24, UCLA 10

UCLA can't keep Ducks in a row, loses second straight

Leading 3-0 at halftime, Bruins give up 21 points in first four minutes of the third quarter and end up apologizing to fans after loss to Oregon at the Rose Bowl.

October 11, 2009|chris foster

UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel stood before the fans, apparent gluttons for punishment, who had decided to remain at the Rose Bowl for the final minutes of a 24-10 loss to Oregon.

"Please come back next week, I promise you'll see a better game," Neuheisel said.

In the locker room afterward, quarterback Kevin Prince dissected a bad day at the office, summing up his performance by saying, "I apologize to the fans."

Across the room, linebacker Reggie Carter was still perplexed by the two touchdowns the Ducks scored in the first 26 seconds of the second half that erased a 3-0 UCLA lead.

"I hadn't even broken a sweat yet and we're down, 14-3?" Carter said. "That's crazy."

Maybe this wasn't a painful journey back to square one. But the Bruins were back to pleading and apologizing and wondering what happened.

The silver lining? California comes to town next week and the Bears are 0-7 against UCLA and USC in Southern California since Jeff Tedford became coach.

"Once you're down and out, everybody will kick you," Carter said. "So we can't kick ourselves. We've got to motivate ourselves and believe in ourselves that we can compete in conference.

"We've got seven more games. That's seven more job interviews."

The Bruins' resume now includes a 24-16 meat-grinder loss at Stanford last week, followed by Saturday's woeful offensive performance that left them 3-2 overall, 0-2 in Pacific 10 Conference play and pondering a fistful of questions.

Prince, who'd missed the previous two games because of a fractured jaw, returned at quarterback. The offense didn't get any better.

The defense gave up 221 yards rushing.

The big-play capability UCLA seeks never materialized, though 13th-ranked Oregon (5-1, 3-0) handled that department quite well Saturday.

Kenjon Barner retuned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, then Talmadge Jackson intercepted a Prince pass and went 32 yards to score on UCLA's first third-quarter play from scrimmage.

"We picked it up in the second half and looked like normal Oregon," Barner said.

UCLA looked like, well, UCLA of a year ago.

There was little from the running game, which netted 66 yards. An intercepted pass was returned for a touchdown. The Bruins' longest play was for 26 yards. The 2008 revival even came with a relentlessly optimistic quote from Neuheisel, who said, "We have dealt with disappointment since I've been back here. This is all part of the growing."

Said Carter: "With such high expectations after the first three games, to come back and lose two, people might wonder if we're going back down the road like last year. We have to stay positive."

The difference this year is, no one seems ready to accept that fate.

"Nobody feels sorry for us," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said. "We have to put something together. We just have to. Our defense played very well. We have to pull our end of the deal."

Prince was supposed to help tug things along. He completed 13 of 25 passes for a mere 81 yards, and had two key turnovers, the first coming seconds after Barner cruised through UCLA's kickoff coverage team.

Jackson was handed a gift, Prince said: "I threw the ball to the inside and what happened was why you're supposed to throw the ball to the outside."

On the next series, Prince had the ball stripped away while scrambling. The turnover led to a 20-yard touchdown pass from Nate Costa to Jeff Maehl for a 21-3 lead less than four minutes into the third quarter, which "was too much to overcome," Neuheisel said.

UCLA's only touchdown came when linebacker Akeem Ayers intercepted a pass in the end zone in the third quarter.

Prince said he "had some jitters on the first series" but denied being rusty. Still, the Bruins amassed only 211 yards and he was yanked in favor of freshman Richard Brehaut at the start of the fourth quarter. Prince returned for one series, but left after tweaking his knee.

"We have high hopes for [Prince] and certainly believe he is going to be a great player," Neuheisel said. "While you believe that, you're also in the midst of trying to win games."

Oregon had its own quarterback issues, with starter Jeremiah Masoli out because of a knee injury. But the Ducks had a running game. LaMichael James ran for 152 yards, the second back in as many weeks to go over 100 against UCLA.

The Bruins lost starting tailback Johnathan Franklin to a sprained ankle in the second quarter. UCLA failed to score after having first and goal at the two-yard line in the first quarter. Two Derrick Coleman runs were followed by two quarterback sneaks on which the offensive line was stood up and Prince was stopped short.

"The quarterback sneak, everything that happened, I'll take responsibility for it because I didn't get it going," Prince said. But, he added, "There is always some light at the end of the tunnel."

Sometimes that's headway. Sometimes that's headlights.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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