UCLA cornerback Andrew Abbott celebrates with teammates Dietrich Riley,… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Quarterback Kevin Prince took one last snap, and took a knee.
UCLA fans cheered.
Prince had been on the shelf -- where many fans preferred him to be -- the previous three weeks. He had been watching since Texas intercepted three of his passes Sept. 17, two after he'd separated his left shoulder. The Bruins lurched along without him.
By late Saturday evening, Prince's shoulder seemed fine and his standing with Bruins fans rehabilitated.
Prince led a frantic fourth-quarter rally that may have salvaged UCLA's season. His seven-yard touchdown pass to Shaquelle Evans pushed the Bruins to a 28-25 victory over Washington State at the Rose Bowl.
Andrew Abbott finally enabled the Bruins to exhale, intercepting a Marshall Lobbestael pass with two minutes left.
"Kevin came through for us," said wide receiver Nelson Rosario, who had three receptions for 120 yards. "He did what he had to do."
Prince was the starter when the season began, but lost the job after the Texas game.
He came off the bench Saturday night after starter Richard Brehaut suffered a fracture in his lower left leg in the second quarter.
Prince was greeted the same way he left against Texas, with boos.
Moments later, he completed a 41-yard pass to Rosario, setting up Derrick Coleman's second one-yard touchdown run, and all was forgiven.
But Prince was in line for coronation after taking the Bruins 71 yards in the final minutes. He completed a 58-yard pass to Rosario. On third and goal from the seven, Prince found Evans breaking over the middle for the touchdown. Prince's pass to Rosario for a two-point conversion gave UCLA a 28-25 lead with 3 minutes 26 seconds left.
Prince completed eight of 13 passes for 173 yards. He threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Josh Smith that pulled UCLA to within two, 22-20, with 10:52 left.
Johnathan Franklin had 109 yards in 12 carries, as the Bruins rushed for 201 yards.
The victory improved UCLA's fortunes in the Pacific12 Conference. The Bruins are 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
"This keeps us in the race," Rosario said.
Arizona is 0-4 and Utah is 0-3 in conference play, and USC is ineligible to play in the Pac-12 championship game. That leaves the Bruins as the top challenger to Arizona State, provided they can navigate their schedule.
Nothing, though, will come easy . . . well, maybe the Colorado game in November.
UCLA has a week off, then plays at Arizona on Oct. 20. The Bruins have not won in Tucson since 2003. They face California in the Rose Bowl on Oct. 29. The Bears have a three-game winning streak against UCLA.
Lobbestael did all he could to darken the Bruins' future. He completed 28 of 40 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Lobbestael's 21-yard touchdown pass to Rickey Galvin gave the Cougars (3-2, 1-1) a 22-14 lead with 12:25 left.
But Washington State paid for settling in the first half.
The Bruins were fortunate to trail by only 9-7 at halftime. Three times the Cougars moved inside the UCLA 10-yard line. But all they had to show for it were three Andrew Furney field goals, from 21, 26 and 21 yards.
UCLA aided and abetted with two personal-foul penalties on Washington State's first drive. Another personal-foul call gave the Cougars a second chance, as the Bruins were called for "leaping" on a field-goal attempt that Furney missed late in the half.
It led to Furney's third field goal, from 21 yards, that gave the Cougars the 9-7 lead.
Meanwhile, UCLA's offense was stalled throughout the first half, going without a first down until 12 minutes remained in the second quarter.