Oct. 10, 2009
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Kenjon Barner returned the second-half kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown, and Talmadge Jackson returned an interception 32 yards for another score just 13 seconds later in No. 13 Oregon's 24-10 victory over UCLA on Saturday.
Jeff Maehl took a short reception 20 yards for the Ducks' third touchdown in less than four minutes during a spectacular opening to the second half of their fifth straight win.
Oregon's big plays on special teams and defense covered for an offense that was shut out in the first half, struggling without injured quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
Nate Costa passed for just 82 yards in his first career start as the Ducks (5-1, 3-0 Pac-10) trailed 3-0 at halftime to the Bruins, whose offense also flailed. Oregon stayed out of trouble late by running the ball on its final 19 plays.
Kevin Prince was 13 of 25 for just 81 yards in his return from a two-game injury absence for the Bruins (3-2, 0-2), who have lost two straight while scoring just one offensive touchdown. Prince also lost a fumble and threw an interception before third-string freshman Richard Brehaut took over for parts of the fourth quarter, passing for 64 yards.
Akeem Ayers made an astonishing interception in Oregon's end zone for the Bruins' only touchdown late in the third quarter, leaping to snag Costa's pass as the quarterback tumbled out of bounds, then tucking his own feet inbounds as he fell.
LaMichael James rushed for 152 yards for the Ducks, who had scored 94 points in their previous two games. Both teams' offenses floundered for much of the afternoon at the Rose Bowl, but Oregon showed it doesn't need much offense to stay on top of the Pac-10.
The Ducks hadn't scored in eight consecutive quarters at the Rose Bowl before Barner, a freshman backup running back, took the second-half kickoff in his own end zone and burst through the wedge. He sprinted to Oregon's first TD on a kickoff return since Jonathan Stewart did it Nov. 19, 2005.
On the Bruins' next snap, Jackson jumped Terrence Austin's buttonhook route and ran unimpeded to the end zone for Oregon's second score. Just two snaps after that, Kenny Rowe knocked the ball out of Prince's hands on a scramble, and Oregon recovered.
Maehl then caught a short third-down pass in traffic, but broke through UCLA's tackles for his first score of the season.
Masoli injured his right knee during Oregon's blowout win over Washington State last week. Coach Chip Kelly was cagey about his starting choice while Masoli missed two days of practice this week, but the junior didn't even suit up at the Rose Bowl.
Costa underwent three major knee surgeries before getting this chance because of Masoli's own knee problems, but Costa's first half wasn't worth the wait. He went 6 for 12 while the Ducks' offense controlled the ball for slightly more than 10 minutes, repeatedly failing to get any momentum.
Oregon couldn't get closer than the UCLA 34, where Jerzy Siewierski blocked Rob Beard's 51-yard field goal attempt midway through the first quarter. The Bruins subsequently drove inside the Oregon 1, but the Ducks' defense kept them in it, stopping Prince on a quarterback sneak on fourth down.
Prince returned after a two-game absence to heal his broken jaw from UCLA's win at Tennessee last month. Senior Kevin Craft struggled in the Bruins' loss at Stanford last week, leading coach Rick Neuheisel to turn to Brehaut in the fourth quarter.
Although Prince wasn't accurate, he certainly didn't play with obvious worries about his jaw, scrambling for 22 yards rushing and taking a handful of hard hits.
The first half's only points were scored by Kai Forbath, who nailed a 52-yard field goal - his UCLA-record eighth of at least 50 yards - when a 16-play drive stalled after starting at the Bruins 1.