Cross-posted from DumpDorrell.com.Now that the season has ended with the epic win over Southern Cal we think it would be fun to look back at the top 10 plays of the year. Here is our list (plenty of room for debate):
Top 10 Plays of the Year
- (tie) Verner returns interception for a touchdown (Sep. 2 Utah). Towards the end of the second quarter freshman CB Alterraun Verner steps in front of a Tommy Grady pass and runs 34 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead that we would never relinquish. It was the first interception for a touchdown by a UCLA freshman since 1989.
- (tie) Aaron Perez kicks 63 yard punt (Dec. 2 Southern Cal). Punter Aaron Perez kicks the longest punt of his career, a booming 63 yarder from our own 25 yard line, sending the Trojans way back to their own 12 yard line. The kick hung so long and went so far that precious seconds ticked off the clock as the ball rolled until a UCLA defender stopped it. No run back, 4 seconds left, no miracles.
- Fullback Danny Nelson runs fake punt 27 yards for first down (Nov. 19 Arizona State). It was late in the 3rd quarter. We had yet again come out flat in the second half and held a slim lead 14-12 at Sun Devil Stadium. We were about to go 3 and out for the second time in 2 possessions in the second half and were deep in our own territory at the 27 yard line. Arizona State had just gone 3 and out as well, but in their first drive they nearly scored a touchdown. Our defense held them to a field goal and was holding firm, but our offense needed to get something done. Dorrell had never won on the road against a team with a winning record and fate seemed to be calling. Instead, Dorrell makes an aggressive call: he calls a fake that worked to perfection as Danny Nelson runs the ball 27 yards to the Arizona State 46 yard line. We only get a field goal on the drive but the fake clearly took the wind out of Arizona State and their fans, as they would go 3 and out on their next 3 possessions and 4 and out on their last possession, failing to score again.
- Pat Cowan 45 yard touchdown pass to Marcus Everett (Nov. 11 Oregon State). With a 4-game losing streak on the line and trailing after the half at home to Oregon State, who was on a 4-game winning streak, Pat Cowan connects with Marcus Everett for a quick touchdown after a critical turnover on downs to take the lead 13-7 they would never give up. Critical play for so many reasons, as UCLA finally comes out and scores a touchdown after the half and does it with an aggressive play. Also gives Cowan and the coaching staff a little confidence to go long. It begins the winning streak the Bruins would take into the Emerald Bowl.
- CB Trey Brown intercepts a Rudy Carpenter pass and runs 19 yards to the Arizona State 1 yard line (Nov. 11 Arizona State). It was the last play of the first quarter and we were leading 7-3, although our offense had nothing going except one massive touchdown pass play of 56 yards, Pat Cowan to Brendan Breazell. We had two sacks on Carpenter already and were rushing him. On 3rd and 9 from his own 13 Carpenter drops back to pass and is rushed into throwing right to Trey Brown who took the ball to the 1 yard line. Chane Moline would score on the very next play with a 1 yard barrel through the line. Our offense did not have good numbers but the defense held a high flying ASU offense who had scored 47 against Washington State the week before to just 260 yards, no touchdowns and just 12 points. The defense reasserts itself and build momentum going into the epic Southern Cal game.
- Defense stops Oregon State on critical 4th and 1 (Nov. 11 Oregon State). The defense had been rattling Oregon State for turnovers the entire first half (2 fumbles and a blocked field goal), but we were still losing 7-6 at home at the start of the third quarter. With the 4-game losing streak still on everyone's mind and the history of coming out in the second half flat, the defense stepped it up a notch. Knowing UCLA's propensity to wilt, Oregon State gambled on a 4th and 1 at their own 45 yard line on their opening second half drive. They had one of the Pac-10's leading rushers at the time, RB Yvenson Bernard rush to the right. He ran right into the defense and was sent back for a 3 yard loss. On the very next play we scored with a 45 yard bomb from Cowan to Everett to take the lead 13-7. Oregon State would never recover. The losing streak was over, and the defense re-emerged.
- Freshman linebacker Reggie Carter grounds Southern Cal QB Booty on game's first play (Dec. 2 Southern Cal). DC DeWayne Walker sends Booty a message from the very first play, sending outside linebacker Carter on a blitz to get to Booty. Booty rushes an incomplete pass down the middle, gets hit by Carter, and Carter stands over Booty while he's on the ground. "Get used to it," Carter said. "It's going to be here all day." Booty rushed his passes all day and he and Southern Cal would never get into a rhythm.
- Pat Cowan scores on 1-yard touchdown run in 1st quarter against Southern Cal for 7-0 lead (Dec. 2 Southern Cal). Huge touchdown for the way it occurred. After starting the game inauspiciously with a quick 3 and out, Pat Cowan would get UCLA on the board on the second drive, one that started deep in our own territory at the 9. It was a critical drive that would highlight his scrambling ability and put the only touchdown on the board for the Bruins all day. Southern Cal would neglect to cover Cowan on pass plays. With his scrambling ability, Cowan would run for 72 yards of a 91 yard drive. He had runs of 17, 29, 17, 8, and the 1 yard score. With that drive alone, Cowan outran Southern Cal's rushing corps (55 net yards) for the entire game. Cowan would end up with a total of 55 yards rushing ... and the victory.
- Defense stops Southern Cal on first drive of the game on 4th and 1 (Dec. 2 Southern Cal). Southern Cal opens the game with a defensive 3 and out, giving up only 2 yards, and a 9-play drive from their own 33 yard line. They were moving the ball and getting ready to start the day's scoring. Facing 4th and 1 on UCLA's 31 yard line Pom Pom Pete decides to take the gamble and go for it, rather than put points on the board. The handoff to RB Chauncey Washington was stuffed by our defense for no gain. The tone was set. The defense was not going to give anything on the run, nor anything in the trenches. USC would gain only 55 yards on the ground the entire day, leaving them to rely on their passing game to move the ball. That played right into the strength of DC DeWayne Walker's defensive scheme.
- Defense stops Southern Cal RB C.J. Gable on 4th and 2 in 4th Quarter (Dec. 2 Southern Cal). At the end of the 3rd quarter Southern Cal finally gets something going after recovering UCLA's first and only turnover, a backwards lateral fumble by Pat Cowan. Starting the drive in good field position at their own 44, Southern Cal stalls at the end of the quarter at UCLA's 36 yard line with a 4th and 2, trailing 10-9. To start the 4th quarter, Pom Pom Pete decides to go for it with a pitch to C.J. Gable to the left into the waiting arms of Christian Taylor and Alterraun Verner for a 4 yard loss. SC rushing yards up to that point in the game: 53 yards. SC would not score again.
Booty to McNeal (Dec. 2 Southern Cal). Not much more needs to be said! With little over a minute left and Southern Cal moving down the field to UCLA's 18 yard line ready to score and take the lead and victory, Booty passes into the outstretched arms of delayed blitzing senior linebacker Eric McNeal. McPick, as he will forever be known, never let his eyes off the ball as he turned and lunged to catch it just before it hit the tops of the blades of grass on the Rose Bowl field. Streak Ended. Legend Started.