The Bruins needed to make a statement after the Arizona debacle in Tucson and the statement was made loud and clear. UCLA were led by their seniors playing in their last game in the Rose Bowl. It was a great thing to see, the UCLA faithful close to 85,000 strong, cheer wildly as the seniors played their Rose Bowl swan song as UCLA Bruins. Everyone in blue and gold was in for a treat. Once again the Bruins put the doubters to rest.
What can any Bruin fan say about senior quarterback Drew Olson? He quite possibly played his best game as a Bruin. Olson was absolutely masterful running the offense.
When the game was over Olson hit on 22 of 27 passes for 510 yards and five touchdowns. With one game remaining, Olson has completed 218 of 322 passes (67.7) for 2,909 yards and 30 touchdowns against three interceptions. His 30 touchdowns is the new UCLA single season record.
Olson, who has engineered four comebacks, earning his the nickname "Captain Comeback", didn't have to come from behind tonight.
On his first pass of the night, Olson threw a dart right on time to Joe Cowan who blew by the Sun Devils defense for a 91-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
Though the defense for the Bruins started out slow, All-American candidate, and senior linebacker Spencer Havner played hard making plays all night.
The first big play that Havner made put an end to pretty good Sun Devil drive led by local product, freshman quarterback Rudy Carpenter.
The only thing that stopped the Sun Devils was the Sun Devils themselves. There was a poor exchange and Havner with his ball-hawking skills pounced on the rock giving the Bruins possession.
The Bruins made use of this turnover as moments later Olson hit running back Chris Markey in perfect stride and motored 56 yards for another touchdown making the score 14-0.
Being in front this early in the game is something that the Bruins haven't done much this season, but a fast start was just what the doctor ordered.
While the offense was hitting on all cylinders, the defense was not. The D could have been helped out, and the game could have quickly turned into a rout, but a Havner interception was called back on a questionable defensive holding penalty.
Instead of an ASU turnover and a Bruin first down, the ball is given back to the Sun Devils who get a new set of downs. This game was about to turn into a track meet.
On this night the Bruin senior leadership kept the everyone focused and the offense kept the pressure on.
Olson lets a true freshman Gavin Ketchum in on the action. With great concentration Ketchum makes a grab on a ball that was close to be picking off and ran 61 yards setting up a Marcedes Lewis six yard touchdown making the score 21-7.
The refs at first called Lewis out of bounds on the two yard line but the play went under review (a recurring theme on this night) and it was obvious that Lewis caught the ball in the end zone.
Lewis is another senior player that Bruin fans won't soon forget as he put on another great show. If he doesn't win the Mackey then a terrible injustice will be made.
On the night, Lewis caught seven passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
ASU had a lot to play for and a lot of pride. They would not go easy into the night. The Devils went on a five play 65 yard touchdown drive making the score 21-14.
At this point in the game it was going to come down to what defense is going to make a stop or create a turnover. The difference of this game at this time was the seven points the Bruins cashed in with their turnover.
All this action and it's only the first quarter.
Olson hit sophomore receiver Marcus Everett for 44 yards near the end of the first quarter and because of that play, the second quarter started off good for the Bruins.
The Bruins fourth touchdown of the night came on fourth down and goal from the one. Maurice Drew would not denied making the score 28-14.
UCLA's much aligned defense finally comes up with a stop and forces the Sun Devils to punt. The Jesse Ainsworth punt rolled and hit Michael Norris in the back making the ball live. ASU landed on the ball at the Bruin five yard line.
This was a huge play for ASU as Carpenter hit Terry Richardson to get the Sun Devils back into the game making the score 28-21, UCLA.
UCLA's following drive stalls at the ASU 35 yard line and once again the Sun Devils go on a roll and scored on an 11 play 63 yard drive that ended with another Carpenter to Richardson hook-up to tie the score 28-28 with seconds left until halftime.
The Bruins elect to run out the clock and regroup instead of forcing things, not everyone in attendance agreed but the half ended locked up at 28-28.
One thing that has been pretty consistent throughout the year is the UCLA defense plays much better in the second half.
The Bruins held on the first possession of the second half but Ainsworth pins the Bruins on their own one-yard line.
The two seniors Olson and Lewis hook-up for a connection of 23 yards to give the Bruins some much needed breathing room.
UCLA stalls and is forced to punt. Aaron Perez punts the ball 31 yards and the Sun Devils fair catch on their 19-yard line.
Soon it would spell doom for the Devils. Carpenter hits the Pac 10's all-time leader in reception, Derek Hagan with a strike for 46 yards, but another senior came up with one of the biggest plays of the night when Marcus Cassel stripped the ball from Hagen and another senior who was having a great game Jarrad Page flew to the lose ball and recovered the for the Bruins.
On this night when one team committed a turnover the other team made them pay. UCLA went on a nine play 82 yard drive for a touchdown. Once again the Bruins needed the review team to make the call right.
In the end though, Olson's fourth touchdown pass of the night was a seven yarder to Brandon Breazell.
The Sun Devils would never again tie the score as the Bruins go on to win 45-35.
UCLA's much maligned defense once again became stingy in the second half allowing only one score.
The story on Saturday Night was the play by UCLA's seniors. Olson, Lewis, Ed Blanton, [/db]Robert Cleary[/db], Havner, Page, Kyle Morgan and Wesley Walker all had solid games on their last game as a Bruin at the Rose Bowl.
As the late great Bob Hope sentimentally once crooned thanks for the memories.
Now there is one more game left in the regular season and the mantra remains, let's go 1-0.
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