Achica blocked UCLA's path to Rose Bowl

The USC vs. UCLA rivalry has produced many legendary players who are remembered for great offensive plays in the series -- from O.J. Simpson's 64-yard touchdown run in 1967 to Gaston Green's 224 yards and four rushing touchdowns in 1986 to Erik Affholter's debated touchdown catch in 1987.

But the rivalry also has had more than its share of stars on defense, starting with last year's instant legend, UCLA's Eric McNeal. This week, The Times provides a look back at six memorable defensive efforts in the series.

USC's George Achica, 1981

USC and UCLA both had lost two games before playing each other but only the Bruins had a chance to reach the Rose Bowl with a victory, thanks to a Washington State upset win over Washington.

UCLA, led by quarterback Tom Ramsey, featured a high-powered offense and a talented defense, but the Trojans had Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen.
USC-UCLA game: An article in Thursday's Sports section on the 1981 USC-UCLA football game that was decided by a blocked field-goal attempt said tackles Dennis Edwards and Charles Ussery played for UCLA. They played for USC.

Behind a touchdown run by Allen and two field goals by Steve Jordan, USC led, 12-7, before UCLA took over. The Bruins rallied behind Ramsey to take a 21-12 lead after three quarters.

That set the stage for a dramatic final 15 minutes at the Coliseum.

In the fourth quarter, Jordan kicked his third field goal to cut UCLA's lead to six points and then, with 2:14 remaining, Allen -- who rushed for 219 yards in 40 carries -- scored his second touchdown of the game to give USC a 22-21 lead.

But Ramsey responded and drove UCLA into field goal position and the Bruins seemed ready to win the game with the ball at USC's 29-yard line.

With four seconds remaining, USC nose guard George Achica became a hero, breaking through Bruins tackles Dennis Edwards and Charles Ussery to block Norm Johnson's 46-yard field goal attempt.

USC went on to play Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl, and UCLA went to the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston to play Michigan.