Oct. 18, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AP) - In a matchup of coaches trying to turn programs around, Rick Neuheisel and the UCLA Bruins outfinished Jim Harbaugh's Stanford Cardinal.
Kevin Craft, who was sacked seven times and threw some ugly passes at times, connected with Cory Harkey for a 7-yard touchdown with 10 seconds remaining to lift UCLA to a 23-20 victory over Stanford on Saturday.
"We still show the fight we always have and today we won," said Craft, who engineered a similar late rally to beat Tennessee in the season opener.
Craft completed six passes against Stanford during an 11-play drive that began at the UCLA 13 with 2:23 remaining. He finished it off when he sprinted toward the right sideline and, after defenders rushed toward him, threw to the wide-open tight end in the right side of the end zone.
"I just started to run and when they came up, I threw it," said Craft, who also improvised on his other scoring throw, a 2-yard shovel pass to Terrence Austin.
The Bruins (3-4, 2-2 Pac-10) extended their win streak over the Cardinal (4-4, 3-2) to five in a row overall and six straight at the Rose Bowl.
First-year UCLA coach Neuheisel almost gave his quarterback the hook after he lost a fumble that led to a Stanford touchdown.
"I thought about replacing Craft in this game when he fumbled. Norm talked me into keeping him in the game; Norm calmed me down," Neuheisel said, referring to offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
Neuheisel added, "Kevin Craft knows this isn't personal. He just knows I want him to succeed."
Harbaugh, in his second season at Stanford, gave the Bruins credit, but he wasn't happy with the Cardinal's mistakes.
"I'm not pointing any fingers. I just think we got tired mentally, not physically," he said, "We also got creative on offense and that's going to lead to mistakes."
The Bruins began their march after Stanford's Aaron Zagory kicked a 29-yard field goal with 2:31 remaining to extend the Cardinal's lead to 20-16.
Craft finished 23-of-39 for 285 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
The UCLA victory overshadowed a 138-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance by Stanford's Toby Gerhart.
"To be so close and let it slip away, yeah, this one hurts," Gerhart said.
Kai Forbath kicked field goals of 37, 19 and 28 yards for the Bruins. Zagory made kicks of 40 and 29 yards for the Cardinal.
Stanford's Tavita Pritchard, back in the lineup after leaving last week's game with a concussion, threw only 12 times and completed five for just 51 yards and was intercepted once.
Up 17-16, the Cardinal began a march at their 20 with 7:29 remaining, and Gerhart carried seven times on a 12-play drive down to the UCLA 11. When Stanford opted to go for a field goal on fourth-and-1, Zagory made the kick, but Craft and the Bruins got the ball back with plenty of time left.
UCLA got its first lead of the game on Forbath's 28-yarder for a 16-14 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. Stanford went back in front 17-16 shortly afterward on Zagory's 40-yarder.
The Bruins had a short drive to their first touchdown because Mike Schmitt recovered a fumbled punt by Stanford's Doug Baldwin at the Cardinal 30.
Trailing 14-3 after Gerhart's second short touchdown run with 1:42 left in the second quarter, UCLA trimmed the deficit to eight points at halftime on Forbath's 19-yarder as time expired.
The Bruins managed to cram 16 plays into the final 1:42 as they drove from their own 10 to the Cardinal's 2.
Stanford converted Craft's second turnover into a touchdown, a 1-yard run by Gerhart. Craft fumbled when sacked by Tom Keiser and Erik Lorig recovered at the UCLA 29.
He had opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:28 left in the first quarter. Baldwin's 18-yard punt return and his 36-yard pickup to the Bruins' 3 on a reverse set up the score.