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UCLA gets a Myles-high club victory over Washington

Linebacker-turned-running back Myles Jack does it again with four touchdown runs in a 41-31 victory that keeps the Bruins in control of their Pac-12 destiny.

November 15, 2013|By Chris Foster

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At some point, maybe next week against Arizona State, UCLA will have more offensive players getting into the end zone.

At some point, maybe next week against Arizona State, Coach Jim Mora will admit that linebacker Myles Jack is a running back as well.

At some point, maybe next week against Arizona State, the Bruins will be able to exhale in the fourth quarter, rather than hyperventilating.

The Bruins seem to thrive without conventional wisdom, their 41-31 victory over Washington in the Rose Bowl on Friday merely proof.

"A 10-point win is a big win," Mora said. "Sometimes we get little out of whack when you see all these inflated scores. Maybe that's not how we play football right now. Maybe we're about grinding out, winning any way we can."

It was a grind almost from the opening kickoff until UCLA safety Stan McKay took knee at midfield — not to run out the clock, but to propose to his girlfriend after the game.

The whole night as a bit offbeat.

UCLA scored six touchdowns, five by players listed on defense. Jack had four, scoring on runs of eight, three, one and one yards.

All week, Mora had insisted Jack was a linebacker. He was Friday. He was also a vital part of the offensive scheme, mostly in short-yardage or goal-line situations. He had 59 yards in 13 carries.

Yet, it took the Bruins (8-2 overall, 5-2 in Pac-12) a while to close out Washington (6-4, 3-4). That was due in part to turnovers and the Huskies' persistence, even after quarterback Keith Price was injured late in the first half.

The Bruins could finally relax when safety Randy Goforth intercepted a pass with 3 minutes 26 seconds left.

There were a lot of hangdog looks from UCLA players as they trudged off the field. But they were headed in the right direction.

"There is incentive," Mora said. "We got something we're after. It's still available to us."

That would be Arizona State next week.

The Bruins have talked about playing championship games weekly since November began. They can actually lay claim to one a week from now when Arizona State comes to the Rose Bowl.

The Sun Devils, who play Oregon State on Saturday, entered this week with a one-game lead over the Bruins and USC in the South Division. UCLA's easiest path to the Pac-12 championship game is to beat Arizona State and USC the next two weeks.

"It will basically determine who wins the Pac-12 South," defensive end Cassius Marsh said. "The winner comes out in first and you're in good place."

The week-in, week-out intensity that is required to make this run is not important, Marsh said.

"Playing great teams back-to-back-to-back is how you win championships," Marsh said.

But it has taken a toll.

The Bruins are getting short on running backs. They were already without Damien Thigpen, Steven Manfro and Jordon James, all out with ankle injuries. They lost Malcolm Jones, who left Friday's game after taking a hit to the head in the fourth quarter.

Paul Perkins is the lone experienced running back healthy. He had 86 of the Bruins' 222 yards on the ground.

Jack could see his role increased. He was already doing plenty for the offense, becoming the first UCLA player to score four touchdowns since Maurice Jones-Drew scored five against Washington in 2004.

"Myles Jack is the best player in the world," said receiver Devin Lucien, who had 40-yard touchdown reception to give the Bruins a 41-24 lead with 10 minutes left. "Myles Jack is the man."

Jack wasn't the only oddity for the Bruins. Marsh had a one-yard touchdown reception to give UCLA a 14-0 lead. Receiver Devin Fuller completed a 25-yard pass to little-used running back Roosevelt Davis to set up a Jack one-yard touchdown run for a 20-7 lead.

The Bruins seemingly had the game in hand with a 27-7 lead with nine minutes left in the first half, but a mistake by Jones gave the Huskies life.

His fumble on the 13-yard line was quickly cashed in for a two-yard touchdown pass from Price to Jaydon Mickens. Washington added a 34-yard field goal by Travis Coons and went into halftime trailing only 27-17.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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