This might not have been Jeff Tedford's game plan going into the Cal-UCLA game , but it worked. The California Golden Bears used this strategy to defeat the not-so-mighty UCLA Bruins by a score of 17-12 in Memorial Stadium last Saturday.
The game was one of the most exciting victories of the season, (Ed. note: Aren't they all?) and far and away the lowest scoring. Cal took a 3-0 lead on the first drive of the game, but was unable to rack up the huge 1st half scores Cal fans have become accustomed to in 2002, and only led the game 10-3 at halftime.
This did not bode well for the Bears, who have shown a tendency to play poorly in the second half, especially in the third quarter. This game was no exception, as the Bruins tied the game 10-10 with an 11-yd. run by Tyler Ebell 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter.
Cal managed to knock UCLA staring QB Cory Paus out of the game in the 3rd quarter, and knocked out backup quarterback Drew Olson in the 4th quarter. But running back Tyler Ebell was hard to stop, carrying the ball 28 times for 102 yards in the game.
The Bears, averaging 38.7 points per game, scored the final touchdown of the afternoon after recovering a Bruin fumble at the Bruin 24-yd. line in the 4th quarter. Turnovers were again a huge part of the game - as UCLA turned the ball over 3 times, Cal not at all.
The other huge factor for Cal was the defense. UCLA had been averaging 33.5 points per game, but against the Cal defense was only able to muster 10 points. The defense had a season-high 7 sacks in the game, including 5 of Cory Paus in the first half. But the high point of the game for the Cal defense was the critical goal line stand with just over 10 minutes in the game.
UCLA blocked a punt (the 1st of 2 Cal punts blocked in the game) from deep within Cal territory and had 1st down at the Cal 3-yd. line. The defense then stepped up big time:
So Cal took over, leading by 7. But this game was far from over - as UCLA blocked a 2nd punt and had the ball on the Cal 20-yd. line. They were unable to advance the ball, however, and when 3rd-string QB Sciarra was sacked for a 2-yd. loss on 4th and 6, the game appeared over.
But Cal was unable to get another first down and faced yet another punt from deep in their territory. That's when Coach Tedford reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out the "Throw it 39 yards backward for an intentional safety" play with 5 seconds left on the clock. The play worked to perfection as Jonathan Makonnen executed a flawless kneel down in the end-zone to take the safety and end the game. Neither Boller nor Makonnen seemed to mind that their season stats for passing and receptions declined by 39 yards on the last play.
The win was worth it! Cal is now 5-3, and only one game away from a non-losing season. This week, against the OSU Beavers, could be that corner-turning game.
Note: This weeks picture courtesy of HO'TFAA Web photographer Vic Rethy.