I had a funnier line here to sum up the game, and then we won. Quick rewrite! How about that game? We won! We won a football game for the third time this season! We beat the mighty powerhouse from Pullman, WA - Washington State.
Wait, what? Mighty powerhouse? It's Washington State, we should have beaten them by 20. Of course, this is UCLA football, and torture is expected, as are unusually tight games, people being driven to drinking when they never drink, and me pounding my keyboard keys furiously, trying not to swear.
In the first half of the game, it was much closer on the scoreboard than it was on the field. In the first quarter, WSU out-gained us 124-12. We had two possessions, and went three and out each time. That was not a good start. At all.
However, the defense came up big in the red zone, and managed to keep WSU out of the end zone, forcing three field goals. We tried to help though, with two big personal foul calls. Hey WSU, anything to help you guys out. I mean, you showed UCLA in the first quarter that you can run up the middle, but if can't get anywhere, you can bounce off and run to the other side! INGENIOUS.
As we move to the second quarter, UCLA's first drive is humming along, with some nice throws to Taylor Embree and Randall Carroll, although Carroll lets a surefire TD go through his fingers. Unfortunately, disaster strikes as Richard Brehaut goes down with a high ankle sprain, and everyone's favorite quarterback, Kevin Prince, returns to the field, memories of interception after interception dancing through everyone's minds.
Yet, Kevin Prince connects with Nelson Rosario for a touchdown! No wait, after further review, Rosario is down at the one, and on second down, Derrick Coleman forces his way into the end zone. Tyler Gonzalez in his first kick ever, nails the extra point, high and right down the middle. Hey, maybe things will turn around!
WSU drives into the red zone again, and UCLA's defense manages to stop them, forcing another field goal. Furney hooks it wide, and as we celebrate, a lone flag litters the grass at the Rose Bowl. The world's dumbest penalty ever called on Joe Fauria is the result, as he is flagged for being too tall, and WSU, after not getting into the end zone again, makes the field goal. I hate you, Jay Stricherz.
We end the half with bad clock management and a Kevin Prince interception in the end zone, leading to a cascade of boos from the Rose Bowl faithful, although Nelson Rosario should have fought harder to knock the ball out of WSU's hands.
Unfortunately we come back to the second half with reports that Richard Brehaut has a fractured leg. And it doesn't get any better than that. Well it does for a second - UCLA opens the half with a nice little drive, marching down the field, capping it off with Derrick Coleman's second touchdown of the game. However, Kai Maiava commits a penalty on the extra point, giving WSU an extra 15 yards on the kick off, leading to a good return.
WSU then marches down the field, converts a fourth down, and Jared Karstetter catches a touchdown pass. Hello, beginning of the end. UCLA is stopped on it's next two drives, with Nelson Rosario unable to hold onto a ball thrown to him and going absolutely nowhere on offense.
WSU scores again, after a pass interference call that I thought was BS, but I don't care at this point. We block the extra point, somehow, by Owa, and didn't get flagged for leaping. The thing that pissed me off more than usual on that drive were the cushions. The freaking cushions. I know our secondary is dinged up, but you can play a little closer to the receivers. The cooties are gone by college!
Hey we scored! A couple of good runs and a throw from Prince to Smith for the touchdown. We go for 2 and miss.
Whatever, WSU keeps driving. Our defense can't stop anyone. The long field goal by WSU is good, as the spirit of Kai Forbath invades Furney, who is giving Kip Smith a run for his money on being the biggest kicker in Division 1 (ok fine FBS.) I guess they both like Sebastian Janikowski.
On the next UCLA drive, there is a nice throw to Rosario and a touchdown to Shaq Evans. We go for two again and this time Rosario converts the 2 as he fights for the ball. We manage to hold on to the win as Andrew Abbott picks off Lobbestael and we manage to convert a 3rd and 8 to finish the game in the victory formation.
Whew. We win because WSU can't get into the end zone. Even if they had gaudy red zone numbers coming into this game, we managed to stop that part of the game, so WIN FOR US! NO WIN FOR YOU, WSU.
After every game, we will grade the team based on the Eye Test:
1) Is our defense prepared for each and every team we play?
2) Do we call offensive plays to catch our opponents off guard?
3) Do our players look like they know what they should be doing at all times?
4) Do our players play for 60 G-D minutes every game?
5) Do our players execute?
6) Do we have leaders on the field?
Well, well, well.
1. In the first half, we did a nice job of keeping WSU out of the end zone when they hit the red zone. That wasn't the same in the second half, our defense was still giving ridiculous cushions, but hey, we had a few sacks today, Datone Jones was taken off the side of a milk carton, and when we managed to get pressure on Lobbestael, he was forced into bad throws. Andrew Abbott had the play of the game to preserve this win.
2. We saw Josh Smith and Shaq Evans catch TD passes, and Jordon James in on several plays. It caught ME off guard, and we actually got in the end zone. Of course, Kevin Prince alone probably caught WSU off guard, as they prepared for Brehaut, but Kevin Prince stepped in and didn't lose the game for UCLA.
3. I hate to rip on the players, because I know they put in so much effort in practice, and that the coaches really need to keep motivating the players to play week in, week out. The players did seem dejected at times, playing slower, heads down, but they didn't give up at the end of the game, even if they were exhausted on defense.
4. Play for 60 minutes? Was it a complete effort? Perhaps, but WE PLAYED WASHINGTON STATE. Ignore their 3-1 record, it's WASHINGTON STATE. Our talent level is so much higher than what is on their team, we should be destroying them, not winning by 3 points.
5. We executed for the most part when we needed it today. We still can't tackle, and we still give up a lot of cushion on receivers, and we can't blitz, save for a few times in the first half. We did have THREE personal foul penalties, each one more painful than the last, and these dumb penalties have really got to go stop. HELLO, we're trying to kill the clock and we false start near the end of the game? We're fortunate to have picked up the first down.
6. Three people on the field today made the most of their opportunities due to injuries to other players: Tyler Gonzalez nailed his extra points, Eric Kendricks was fantastic and should play more, and Kevin Prince, despite throwing the pick that set my facebook feed on fire, didn't lose the game for us and kept us in the game.
We win. WSU loses to us again. At least that order is restored.
Richard Brehaut, get well soon! You too, Jamie Graham! I'm tired. Can we put an end to all the night games?