Thearon W. Henderson
In a close, competitive game, UCLA drops the Pac-12 Championship game to Stanford after missing a 52 yard field goal with 39 seconds left.
After last week's game against Stanford, we all knew the Bruins would come into this week focused and ready to play in the rain.
UCLA gets the best start any team could ask for in this situation. The offense returns to the quick swing passes and the offense moves swiftly down the field for the first score of the game, after some SPTR'ing in not moving the chains at the right time. Come on. Johnathan Franklin takes off for a 51 yard touchdown, which held up after review.
Stanford matches us right away, as they march down the field with their ridiculously efficient running game. We couldn't make the big stops on third down, or on a 4th and 1, and we are rewarded with Kevin Hogan faking us out and waltzing into the end zone.
On our next drive, Brett Hundley has the play of the drive with a 48 yard run (and no flags!) and Johnathan Franklin keeps his legs moving and drags guys with him as he heads downfield. Eventually Hundley sees an opening and runs right into the end zone. The defense stops the Cardinal on 3rd and 9, and after 1 complete, dominating quarter by UCLA, 14-7.
However Brett Hundley is picked off early in the second, and it is nearly run back until Hundley takes him down at the 1. It doesn't matter as Stepfan Taylor runs it in for the touchdown. That turnover amps up Stanford, and the defense starts stuffing us and we do not score the remainder of the half. Stanford picks up a field goal, and we go into halftime with a score of 17-14.
Stanford receives to start the half, but Datone Jone comes in with the BOOOOOOOOM and Stanford has to punt. On our drive, Franklin has another huge run, but Hundley on third down is taken down and Ka'imi Fairbairn converts the 31 yard field goal.
After Stanford punts, Stanford finally gets a flag thrown against them, Hundley has another nice draw for the first down, and Franklin puts us ahead 24-17 with the touchdown.
Stanford marches right down the field again, aided by a face mask penalty by Tevin McDonald, but with bad coverage and complete confusion, Stanford easily scores, Hogan to Terrell. 24 All.
Tensions rise with tie game, but Stanford once again marches down the field when our offense can't get anything moving, and after Randal Goforth breaks up a play to Ertz, Jordan Williamson kicks a 36 yard field goal for a three point lead.
And that my friends, is where our run for the roses ends. Our next drive started so well, with great runs by Franklin, but it comes up to 3rd and 13, Hundley is trying to hit Fauria, but Tarpley watches Hundley's eyes and the pass is incomplete. UCLA starts burning their timeouts and we thankfully get the ball back one more time.
On our final drive, a late hit on Brett Hundley helps us out. We come up on 3rd and 6, and the normally sure handed Johnathan Franklin drops a ball, either looking upfield or noticing the incoming defense. on 4th and 6, Fauria catches the ball but for some inexplicable reason flips the ball to Jerry Johnson, which was completely unnecessary and extremely risky. Hundley throws to Fuller and we pick up 5 more yards. On 4th down, Mora decides to leave it on the foot of Fairbairn to make a 52 yard field goal. I think the higher percentage play would have been to go for it, but it's up to Fairbairn.
The snap looks a bit high, but Jeff Locke gets it down.
The kick has distance... and it hooks left.
My stomach sinks to the floor.
This game was so close. We only made a few mistakes. Stanford played their usual mostly error free football. We didn't create any turnovers. While Stanford deserves to go to the Rose Bowl, we all wonder and contemplate how close we were to achieving the same. I've never seen a Rose Bowl in my Bruin lifetime, and it would have been great to attend.
Our season isn't over - there's still a bowl to attend, whether it be the Alamo Bowl or the Holiday Bowl. Congratulations to our seniors, to all-time leading rusher Johnathan Franklin, and to all of you for being here this season.
By the way, threaten any of our players, and you WILL be banned.