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UCLA football: Running back Damien Thigpen returns to form

UCLA football: Running back Damien Thigpen returns to form
Buffaloes safety Jared Bell chases down Bruins running back Damien Thigpen on a 27-yard gain to the eight-yard line that set up a UCLA touchdown in the fourth quarter. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Damien Thigpen seemed to stretch his wings Saturday night. The UCLA senior running back, who has spent nearly a year recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, looked like his old self in a 45-23 victory over Colorado.

He had 38 yards rushing in four carries, one a 27-yard run. He scored on a five-yard run in the third quarter. It was his first touchdown in 364 days, since a one-yard run against Arizona on Nov. 3, 2012.

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"It felt good to be back in the end zone," Thigpen said. Asked if he it was the best touchdown of his career, Thigpen said, "I think so. It was special because it has been a long road."

Thigpen was injured against USC last November. That season, he was the Bruins' third-leading rusher with 262 yards, had 18 receptions for 211 yards and scored four touchdowns.

Coach Jim Mora saw Thigpen take a big step forward in practice last week.

"He made this jump cut on a kickoff return," Mora said. "The whole team was watching it on film and everyone started whooping and hollering because Thiggy was back."

Thigpen's reemergence may be vital to the Bruins. Running back Jordon James spent the final minutes of the game with an ice pack on his right ankle.

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