Oct. 29, 2005
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Maurice Drew and Marcedes Lewis sat at their lockers and looked at each other in disbelief. UCLA was down and disheveled at halftime, its powerful offense sputtering and its perfect season in big trouble.
Two hours later, Drew and Lewis looked at each other again with even more amazement - because UCLA was still unbeaten, thanks to the cardiac Bruins' most unlikely escape yet.
UCLA (8-0, 4-0 Pac-10) has specialized in fantastic finishes during conference play, rallying from double-digit deficits against Washington, California and Washington State earlier in October - but none was as dramatic or unlikely as the Bruins' escape from Stanford Stadium.
"It doesn't seem real. I still can't believe what we did," said Drew, who ran for two late scores, including a 1-yard tumble across the goal line with 46 seconds left to force OT.
"My heart hurts right now. I'm emotionally drained," said Lewis, the star tight end held to three receptions. "It's going to be tough to sleep. ... Every time I looked at (Drew) or any other players, that fire was still in their eyes. We weren't going down like this - not here, not to Stanford."
UCLA stayed among the five unbeatens in major college football after Georgia lost to Florida. The Bruins still must face Arizona, Arizona State and top-ranked USC.
Olson, soundly outplayed in the first 52 minutes by workout buddy Trent Edwards, went 24-of-35 for 293 yards and two TDs while leading his latest jaw-dropping comeback. He led fourth-quarter scoring drives of 65, 72 and 66 yards - and all three took a combined 3:40.
Joe Cowan caught a 31-yard TD pass with 4:43 to play, and Drew shook off a bruised right knee to score on UCLA's final play of regulation. Though Olson celebrated wildly along with his teammates, the quarterback knew his team might not have deserved its outrageous fortune.
"For 3 1/2 quarters, we played horrible football," Olson said. "I was surprised we were only down 7-3 at halftime. I've got no explanation for this."
Neither did Stanford. Edwards passed for 169 yards and two scores for the Cardinal (4-3, 3-2), who blew a golden opportunity to make a national mark in their first season under new coach Walt Harris.
J.R. Lemon had two TD catches, but the Stanford defense gave up 200 yards in the fourth quarter after allowing just 147 in the first three.
"We played gallantly," Harris said. "They're undefeated and have all these comebacks because they're good. We let them off the hook. ... We had a victory taken away from us by ourselves."
Michael Sgroi kicked a field goal on Stanford's overtime possession. But on UCLA's second play, Olson hit Breazell with a perfect fade into the corner of the end zone. The Bruins celebrated in a huge, jumping group, while the Cardinal stood in disbelief.
"We did not have the best of games, but we got them to make some critical mistakes at the end of the game," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "Once we scored that first touchdown, the defense stepped it up. We kept our rhythm going from that point."
UCLA's offense was ranked fifth nationally with 44.4 points per game, but Olson, Drew and Lewis did almost nothing right until Cardinal fullback Nick Frank scored to put Stanford up 24-3 with 8:26 left. The Bruins, who had lost just one fumble all season, fumbled twice in the second half.
But something finally ignited the Bruins, who made two lightning-quick scoring drives after Frank's score.
The Bruins got the ball again at their 34 with 2:30 to play, and Lewis made a big third-down catch to preserve the drive. Stanford committed consecutive pass-interference penalties, and Olson hit Cowan inside the 2 on a fourth-down play to set up Drew's 1-yard TD.
"It can't be much more heartbreaking," Stanford nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo said. "Sometimes it's all so surreal, in a sense. We'll be fine, (but) to be a great football team, you need to play a complete game."
A large portion of the 42,850 fans wore powder blue, but had little to cheer until the frantic final minutes. Olson and Drew, both natives of the East Bay suburbs with busloads of more than 100 friends and family cheering them on, finally won their first game in the Bay Area for UCLA.
The Cardinal played three solid quarters despite the absence of starting running back Anthony Kimble, who had an undisclosed injury, and top receiver Mark Bradford, who was on crutches on the sideline after hurting his ankle early in the game.