There are few stadiums more famous and historic than the Rose Bowl. It has hosted the men’s and women’s World Cup Finals, Super Bowls, Bowl Championship Series title games, the New Year’s Rose Bowl Game, and is home to UCLA football.
This past Saturday seemed the perfect day to visit the grand edifice as the Bruins faced UC Berkeley in a crucial Pacific 12 Conference game.
After trailing early, the Bruins rebounded with an impressive 31-14 victory in front of 55,604, and now have a real chance of salvaging a winning record.
All of this comes on the heels of UCLA’s 36-point blowout loss on the road against Arizona. If the wolves weren’t after Head Coach Rick Neuheisel’s head, they were after that debacle.
Is Neuheisel to blame for all the ills? No, but his record coming into 2011 was 15-22, including a pair of 4-8 marks.
When the Bruins fell behind 7-0 after quarterback Kevin Prince fumbled after a 21-yard gain, the fans booed lustily.
The Golden Bears (4-4 and 1-4 in conference) had the ball at the UCLA 30, and five plays later Isi Sofele banged it in from a yard out as 6:20 remained in the opening quarter.
UCLA tied it at 7-7 with 6:37 left in the second quarter when Johnathan Franklin (45 yards on 13 carries) knocked it in from 11 yards out, capping a 64-yard, seven-play march.
The Bruins made it 10-7 with 3:18 left in the second quarter when Tyler Gonzalez hammered a 32-yard field goal after California quarterback Zach Maynard over threw a pass. It was intercepted by redshirt freshman free safety Tevin McDonald, who had three on the evening.
UCLA (4-4 and 3-2 in conference) took advantage of Maynard’s fumble at the Cal 19, and turned it into a Derrick Coleman (80 yards on 16 carries) two-yard run with less than two minutes left before the half as the Bruins pulled ahead 17-7.
Neuheisel had instructed Prince to run free and he obliged by gaining a game-high and personal-best 163 yards on 19 carries. Prince was the first UCLA field general to surpass the century mark since Jeff Dankworth in 1976.
Prince has been injury-prone, and hit nine of 18 attempts for 92 yards, with a long of 19 yards to Nelson Rosario (56 yards and five receptions).
Using the “Pistol’’ offense, the Bruins tore up the turf to the tune of 294 yards, while limiting the Golden Bears to 134 yards and 333 overall. “That’s the pistol right there,’’ said Prince, who attended Crespi High.
Cal had the only points in the third quarter as C.J. Anderson scored on a one-yard run with 13:05 left as the Golden Bears trimmed it to 17-14.
UCLA took a 10-point lead with 12:45 left in the final quarter when Coleman had a 20-yard run after Maynard (14 of 30 for 199 yards and four interceptions) was picked off by McDonald.
Another interception by McDonald of Maynard set up Franklin’s 24-yard rumble up the middle with 4:53 left that climaxed a nine-play, 83-yard drive and made it 31-14.
One scary moment took place early in the fourth quarter when sophomore safety Dietrich Riley collided with Sofele (74 yards on 15 carries).
The St. Francis High product was on his back for about five minutes, then moved on to a stretcher and taken to Huntington Hospital, where the report said Riley suffered a stinger.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.