UCLA freshman QB Drew Olson wasn’t asked to do a great deal, but completed 13 clutch passes for 189 yards and threw no interceptions in his 27 passing attempts. TE Mike Seidman was his favorite target as the big senior hauled in five passes for 96 yards.
Washington’s Cody Pickett threw an astounding 60 passes, completing 29 of them for 429 yards and three touchdowns, but his four interceptions overshadowed all of those statistics. Pickett was rushed, hit, knocked down, sacked four times, and had his timing thrown off by UCLA’s defensive front four.
Chris Singleton started his first game of his Husky career and looked solid, picking up 92 yards on 20 carries. He looked quick to the hole and made some nice cuts once he hit the line of scrimmage. His play and the defense were the two lone bright spots in an otherwise dark Husky defeat.
UCLA got on the board first, using the old “swinging gate” play as a catalyst. After two false start penalties, UCLA faced a 3rd and 17. They broke the huddle quickly and lined up nine players to the left of the football, while Washington’s defense scrambled to figure out what was happening. Mike McCloskey quickly snapped the ball side-armed to quarterback Drew Olson, who ran behind the wall of Bruins for a 34-yard gain. The drive would stall there, helped in large part by another Bruin false start penalty, and Nathan Fikse made a 27-yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bruins.
The Huskies came up with a big special teams play to get their offensive fire started. Reserve linebacker Tim Galloway came through on the left side of the Bruin punt formation to get a hand on Fikse’s punt, which set the Huskies up on the Bruin 47-yard line.
On 2nd and 10 from the 13, Pickett stepped up to avoid a sure sack by DE Rusty Williams and floated a ball to the back of the end zone where Reggie Williams went high to snare it and get one foot inbounds while fighting tight coverage from Matt Ware. John Anderson’s extra point put the Dawgs up 7-3.
It would be the last time the Huskies would have the lead.
UCLA answered right back, interestingly enough, through the air. With Husky safety Jimmy Newell sidelined with a knee sprain and Greg Carothers dinged, Olson went to work on young safeties James Sims and Evan Benjamin. He found Seidman for 21 yards and then for 17 more on a backside screen. The big play of the drive came on third and four when Tab Perry found himself open where the Husky linebackers and safeties had vacated. He picked up 23 yards to keep the Bruins in business. Three Tyler Ebell runs punched it into the endzone from 10 yards out to put the visitors back on top 10-7 to end the first quarter.
The first play of the second quarter was as interesting for it’s choice as much as it was for the results. On third and two with Tuiasosopo in a one-back set, Washington showed little faith in their much-maligned offensive line and decided to throw for it. Pickett attempted to thread a quick slant to Frederick. The drawn in UCLA linebackers were in perfect spacing, as Spencer Havner got his mitt on the ball to knock it skywards and Marcus Reese intercepted the rock and returned it all the way down to the Husky one. Two plays later Ebell was in the end zone and the Bruin lead grew to 10.
Washington answered right back, and Pickett used his tight end to do the damage. The drive would last 10 plays travel 82-yards, and it got rolling with a Kevin Ware 21-yard post pattern reception to get the ball near midfield. On fourth and one, Pickett faked to Tuiasosopo and pitched the ball to Singleton just as the linebacker was arriving. Singleton picked up a big block from TE Joe Toledo and went 11 yards to keep the drive alive. Two plays later Pickett found Ware open for a 20-yard TD strike right down the middle to draw to within three at 17-14.
A UCLA three and out preceded a 21-yard shanked punt by Fikse and Washington would start it’s next drive at midfield. However Washington came up empty.
UCLA responded by going 80 yards in seven plays to go back up by 10. A 22-yard Ebell run put the ball at midfield. Olson then made a big time throw. Despite having Kai Ellis on his chest, Olson threw a laser beam to Perry, who made the grab at the 26. A helmet-to-helmet contact penalty on Derrick Johnson moved the ball to the Husky 13. On third and four Olson sizzled one to Seidman, who caught it and dragged Evan Benjamin to the one. Ebell carried over right tackle for the touchdown.
Washington started their final drive of the half on their own two. UCLA gave Washington ample opportunities to answer, but to no avail. UCLA committed an offsides penalty at the UW 45 on third and one with 0:26 remaining in the half. They followed that by a Joe Hunter pass interference penalty on Charles Frederick, moving the ball into John Anderson field goal range, on the UCLA 26. Washington decided to take one final shot at the end zone, since they had one time out remaining. Pickett threw down the seam for Ware again but Ricky Manning cheated off of his coverage of Paul Arnold and easily intercepted it to end the half.
UCLA had 10 penalties in the half and still held a 10-point lead.
The second half began much like the first half ended. After Pickett found Williams for 17 yards, he once again attempted to hit Ware on a seam route down the middle. Freshman safety Jarrad Page read it perfectly and made the interception. He returned it to the UCLA 49-yard line.
UCLA looked like they would stall, but on third and 10 Olson found Seidman between the safeties for a 42-yard catch and run. The play set up a 23-yard field goal by Fikse to move the Bruins on top 27-14.
A Brandon Chillar crushing sack of Pickett and a 21-yard McLaughlin shanked punt set UCLA up on the Husky 48 to begin their next drive, but the Husky defense held once again.
Washington’s ground attack showed some life, as Singleton grinded out 15 yards on three straight running plays. However as the Huskies neared the Bruin 40, David Ball came in to sack Pickett on the final play of the third quarter. Facing third and very long, Pickett dropped back and fired long for Arnold, who made a one-handed reception while falling down at the six-yard line. Three plays later (including a drop by Reddick that would’ve put the ball on the one), Washington was still five yards from pay-dirt. With 13:48 left in the game, Neuheisel opted to go for three. Anderson’s 22-yard field goal split the uprights to draw the Huskies within 10.
Neuheisel admitted that if they were on the one, he would’ve gone for it.
At the time it looked like the right decision because the defense again held UCLA, and despite the punt bouncing off of Chris Massey’s calf, the Huskies recovered and took over on their own 20 with 10:39 left.
It looked like more hard luck for the Husky offense as Frederick dropped what would’ve been a long gain. It was the seventh drop of the evening to that point, but Pickett found Ware for 10 on third down to move the chains. It would prove to be huge, as two plays later Pickett hit Paul Arnold on a quick hitter. The senior wide receiver took the ball in at the 40, stopped, faked inside and cut outside. He got around the corner past Joe Hunter and raced down the Husky sideline for a 66-yard touchdown to draw the Huskies to within three at 27-24. The Husky Stadium crowd erupted.
UCLA was able to grind out one first down but the Husky defense remained tough and forced a Bruin punt with 5:56 remaining.
With the crowd alive, Pickett quickly hit Paul Arnold for a gain of 22 yards. After a 9-yard completion to Ware and a Singleton 3-yard run, Washington was at the UCLA 31. Then came the definitive sequence in the game. On second and seven on the UCLA 28, Pickett was sacked by David Ball once again. This time it was a loss of 11 and took the Dawgs out of field goal range. After a third and 18 pass fell incomplete, Washington was forced to punt back to UCLA with 3:12 remaining in the game.
Derek McLaughlin’s punt was a wounded duck that netted four yards. Instead of pinning the Bruins deep in their own territory, UCLA took over at their 35. When the Bruins punted back to Washington with 2:19 remaining, Washington was 87 yards from the goal line.
Pickett found Reddick for a 17-yard pick up, and then Frederick for a 10-yard gain. Then came his worst three throws of the game. On second and five Pickett threw carelessly to the right flat where UCLA’s Keith Short should’ve picked it off. He dropped it. On third and five Pickett threw behind Ware when he attempted to baby the ball. On fourth and five Pickett once again threw for Ware. This one was picked off by Spencer Havner and returned 42 yards for the final touchdown.
UCLA improves to 6-3, 3-2 in the Pac-10, while Washington drops to 4-5, 1-4 in the Pac-10. For the second week in a row, it was a game where the much-maligned Husky defense played more than well enough to win. They held UCLA to just 13 first downs and 316 total yards, but it wasn’t enough to overcome four turnovers and spotty special teams play.
Washington had 31 first downs and held the ball for nearly 34 minutes, both meaningless statistics in this tumultuous season.
Notes from the Press Box and Husky player quotes will be posted tomorrow.