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LAst Night's Action: Prince Averts Disaster for UCLA

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UCLA Bruins defeat Washington State Cougars 28-25. Call it a failure of Washington State’s offense to complete drives. Call it UCLA’s defense playing big when it counted. Call it a complete rebirth of quarterback Kevin Prince. But UCLA gets back to the .500 mark overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12 eking out a victory over the Cougars.

It really did look more of the same from the Bruins in the first quarter where they amassed all of 12 yards of total offense while giving up 125 yards to the Cougars who had the 3-0 lead. It looked even bleaker when quarterback Richard Brehaut left the game with a fractured left leg after a five-yard carry in the second quarter.

Kevin Prince came into the game in the Rose Bowl where the nightmare of three first-quarter interceptions against the Texas Longhorns hung thick in the night sky. After a couple of rushes, Prince connected with Nelson Rosario for 41 yards to set up first-and-goal at the Cougars’ 1-yard line. Two plays later Derrick Coleman punched through for the score, and UCLA’s soccer manager Tyler Gonzalez actually made the extra point to give the Bruins the 7-6 lead.

However the fantods appeared to be back for Prince on the next drive that featured Johnathan Franklin rushing for 39 yards. On first down at the Cougars’ 15-yard line, instead of throwing on Rosario’s back shoulder in the corner of the endzone Prince threw in front of Rosario. Damante Horton intercepted the ball which allowed Wazzu to head into halftime with the 9-7 lead.

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But Prince shook all of that off in the first drive of the third quarter Prince made a 21-yard pass to Rosario and a 17-yard completion to Jordon James en route to another Coleman one-yard touchdown run for UCLA’s 14-9 lead.

The defense initially did a good job in the first half of bending but not breaking - keeping the 11th highest scoring offense and fourth passing offense in the country out of the end zone. Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael was held to 235 yards of passing, over 140 yards below their season average. However in the second half Lobbestael made two touchdown passes putting the Cougars up by as much as 22-14.

But the enigma of Prince and the defense brought UCLA back. Perhaps it was because Brehaut garnered most of the attention in practice which kept Prince away from the coaching staff. But down by 22-14, Prince culminated a four-play, 63-yard touchdown drive with a nine-yard pass to Josh Smith. The failed two-point conversion allowed Wazzu to maintain a 22-20 lead.

The defense held Wazzu to a field goal keeping the deficit to one score with 5:49 remaining. Prince made a 58-yard completion to Rosario which led to his seven-yard touchdown pass to Shaquelle Evans and the two-point conversion pass to Rosario giving UCLA the 28-25 lead.

UCLA left 3:26 on the clock, but the defense showed up when Andrew Abbott intercepted Lobbestael near midfield with two minutes remaining. UCLA ran out the clock to escape the Rose Bowl with a win.

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It was nice to see Prince bounce back after that horrendous showing against Texas. It was nice to see the Bruins’ defense hold a high scoring offense to under 30 points. But what now? Will Prince, who went 8-for-13 for 173 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, get psyched out in two weeks at Arizona?

I guess we just have to wait and see, but for a bit the fires in Westwood have been reduced to a simmer.

Buffalo Sabres defeat LA Kings 4-2.

Anaheim Ducks defeat New York Rangers 2-1 (SO).

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