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UCLA suffers all-too-familiar walk-off loss, 27-20 to Oregon State

No. 19 Bruins leave the field solemnly, a feeling they know well, after losing Pac-12 opener to a well-coached Oregon State team that stuffs their running game.

September 22, 2012|By Chris Foster
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It was a walk UCLA football players knew all too well.

Trudging off the field, their faces devoid of emotion, the sounds of an opposing team's celebration behind them at the Rose Bowl. Yeah, this was familiar.

"Disappointment is what you're thinking," Bruins safety Tevin McDonald said of that trip to the locker room. "We left so much out there on the field."

Too much.

Oregon State's 27-20 victory knocked the No. 19 Bruins from the ranks of the undefeated, and possibly from the rankings. Now UCLA players will be back answering some familiar questions after losing their Pac-12 Conference opener.

"All the doubters will come back," McDonald said.

Certainly some UCLA fans had shifted to old habits, with many in the sparse crowd filing out with four minutes left. They had seen enough.

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 379 yards. Tag-team receivers Markus Wheaton, who had nine receptions for 150 yards, and Brandin Cooks, who had six for 175, took turns scorching the UCLA secondary.

The Beavers (2-0 overall, 1-0 in conference play) removed the nation's leading rusher from the Heisman Trophy discussion. Johnathan Franklin finished 45 yards rushing. The Bruins' ground game ground to a halt, with 72 yards.

Hail to the victors was UCLA Coach Jim Mora's view. "That's a well-coached football team and they beat us," he said.

The Bruins (3-1, 0-1) could look inward as well.

For three weeks, the UCLA offense had carved up the good (Nebraska, 36-30), the bad (Rice, 49-24) and the ugly (Houston, 37-6). The Bruins ranked second nationally in total yards.

But the Beavers loaded up on the line and took the run away. The Bruins were left with a sporadic passing game.

"There were moments, and then there weren't moments," quarterback Brett Hundley said.

Moments that weren't came early in the second half, with the Beavers leading, 17-10.

Twice the UCLA defense forced turnovers, getting the ball back in Oregon State territory. The previously high-octane offense choked on its own fumes.

"When we can't run the football it puts a lot of pressure on Brett and the receivers," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said.

A fumble, forced by Anthony Barr and recovered by McDonald, gave UCLA the ball at the 43-yard line. The drive ended eight yards later, when Hundley's pass sailed high on fourth and two.

On the next play, a Stan McKay interception put the Bruins offense back on the field at Oregon State 48. And they were back on the sidelines five plays later, again with zilch to show for it.

"The offense was doing their best, doing what they were coached to do," defensive back Sheldon Price said. "The defense, we kept getting them the ball. But at the end of the day it's who has most points."

Or who might have had the most points.

Following McKay's interception, Kenny Walker could not catch up to a Hundley throw in the end zone on second down from the 42.

"When he threw it, I thought we had tied the game," Mazzone said.

Steven Manfro could not make an awkward catch at the 10 on third down. UCLA was two for 15 on third-down conversions.

"That was a critical time when we got the two take-aways and were not able to get any points," Mora said. "It gave them momentum, gave them energy and hope."

The Beavers went on a 88-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown run by Storm Woods for a 24-10 lead.

"The defense got us the ball, we didn't capitalize on it," said Hundley, who threw for 372 yards.

The Bruins had that trouble in the first half as well. Tight end Joseph Fauria's false-start penalty on third down at the one-yard line helped kill a drive and the Bruins settled for an 22-yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn after a third-down pass was incomplete.

Another teaching moment.

Said Mora: "There are a lot lessons we can learn from this. First and foremost, how do we handle some adversity?"

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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