Oct 11, 2003
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. - Defensive tackle Rodney Leisle returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown as UCLA rallied to beat Arizona 24-21 on Saturday, the Wildcats' 13th straight Pac-10 home loss.
Arizona led 21-10 lead at halftime, but couldn't hold the Bruins (4-2, 2-0) in check for a full game. Tyler Ebell ran 18 yards for their first TD, and Manuel White scored on a 5-yard run.
Kris Heavner had a 39-yard scoring pass to Biren Ealy for Arizona (1-6, 0-3), which lost its sixth in a row and second under interim coach Mike Hankwitz.
Nic Costa, Arizona's short-yardage specialist in the red zone, passed for two TDs in two attempts - to Matt Padron and Clarence Farmer.
But Leisle had the play of the game, lifting the Bruins to a 24-21 lead with 13:41 remaining in the contest.
The 289-pound lineman took advantage of a freshman mistake, stepping in front of Heavner's attempt to get out of trouble with a shovel pass to Mike Bell, and lumbered into the end zone accompanied by his defensive linemates.
Both teams missed field goals in the remaining time.
UCLA's Justin Medlock, who had a 32-yarder in the first quarter, was wide right from 35 yards with 9:24 left, and Nicholas Folk, who replaced Bobby Gill for the attempt, sent a 28-yard try wide right on his first college attempt with 5:28 to go.
Hankwitz, who replaced the fired John Mackovic on Sept. 28, took the wraps off a rugged running game. Farmer, the Pac-10's leading rusher in 2001, spent most of his career in Mackovic's doghouse.
He started this game and ran for 122 yards in 25 carries. Bell added 94 in eight attempts.
Farmer set the tone when he ran 29 yards on the first snap.
Heavner moved the Wildcats within range of their first score with a 28-yard pass to Lance Relford, then gave way to Costa, who completed the 80-yard drive with a 7-yard pass to Padron 2:36 into the game - Arizona's first first-half score since they beat UTEP 42-7 in their opener.
The Bruins answered with a field goal and took a 10-7 lead with 10:02 left in the second quarter on Ebell's TD.
But Bell gained 41 and 29 yards on back-to-back runs, and Farmer picked up 12 yards on six consecutive carries before Costa's 1-yard play-action pass to Farmer.
The Bruins drove 80 yards with the second-half kickoff, with White scoring to close the gap.
UCLA had four interceptions. Costa, who replaced Heavner after Leisle's big play, threw his only one with 13 seconds to play.