Bruins Cut Up 49ers, Then Ease Up, 56-3
In a game that seemingly offered little more to UCLA than a chance to collect another scalp, the Bruins took a machete to Cal State Long Beach Saturday night.
Amazingly, the No. 2-ranked Bruins, who were such prohibitive favorites that oddsmakers didn’t even post a point spread, also managed to keep the score down, easing off for a 56-3 victory before a crowd of 42,464 at the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins led at halftime, 42-0, and Coach Terry Donahue gave his starters the entire second half off, even going so far as to replace kicker Alfredo Velasco with freshman Dominic Sandifer.
Still, quarterback Troy Aikman completed 17 of 25 passes for 272 yards and, for the third straight game, passed for 3 touchdowns.
In only 15 games at UCLA, the transfer student from Oklahoma has passed for 26 touchdowns to move into third place on the Bruins’ all-time list, ahead of Bob Waterfield and Gary Beban, both of whom he overtook Saturday night, and behind only Dennis Dummit and career leader Tom Ramsey.
“I didn’t want him to play when the score was so out of control in the second half,” Donahue said of Aikman. “I hope I didn’t (hurt) his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy by not putting him in and letting him throw for 350 yards. That’s not been what we’ve done here.”
Tailback Eric Ball ran for more than 100 yards for the third straight game, carrying the ball 11 times for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns, including one scoring run of 56 yards, the longest of his career.
And flanker Mike Farr caught 7 passes for 114 yards.
All told, the Bruins rolled up 456 of their 662 total yards and 20 of their 33 first downs in the first two quarters--running for 184 yards, passing for 272 and averaging more than 10 yards a play.
“Obviously, it was a very one-sided affair, but I thought we definitely grew as a team in a lot of areas,” Donahue said.
Only once--in 1973, when they piled up 671 total yards against Washington--have the Bruins accumulated more yardage.
In winning its first three games, UCLA has outscored San Diego State, Nebraska and Cal State Long Beach, 111-13, in the first half.
So much for thoughts that UCLA might not be motivated.
After last week’s stunning performance against Nebraska, in which the Bruins scored 28 points in the first 14 minutes of a 41-28 victory, UCLA figured to have a hard time getting excited.
Long Beach is still trying to get its program back on its feet after it was threatened with extinction at the end of the 1986 season. Supporters raised $315,000 in little more than a month to save the program, meeting guidelines set forth by former university President Stephen Horn.
However, in the process, the 49ers lost their coach, Mike Sheppard, who wound up at New Mexico.
And, basically, they lost a year of recruiting.
Larry Reisbig, a former 49er assistant who replaced Sheppard on Dec. 24, 1986, called the situation a catastrophe.
Long Beach was 4-7 last season, but the optimistic Reisbig actually considered that a step in the right direction.
“I’ve said often that even winning four games last year had to be a tribute to these kids,” Reisbig said.
The 49ers (0-3) have struggled again this season.
Before getting a 33-yard field goal from David VanSteenkiste in the third quarter, Long Beach was outscored, 120-0, since opening a 10-0 first-quarter lead Sept. 3 in its 29-10 season-opening loss to Boise State.
Last week, the 49ers lost at Oregon, 49-0.
“I do think we could be a much better team,” Reisbig said last week, “but I don’t think we’re a bad team.”
Against UCLA, however, the 49ers were overmatched.
The Bruins, who scored on 5 of 6 first-half possessions against Nebraska, did the same against Long Beach.
A first-quarter fumble by Ball ended the only Bruin possession that didn’t result in a touchdown, and that drive covered 85 yards.
It was a rout from the beginning as the Bruins methodically ate up huge chunks of yardage against the overworked 49er defense, driving 79, 83, 52, 90 and 52 yards to their first-half touchdowns.
UCLA also got a 50-yard return for a touchdown from cornerback Marcus Turner, who stepped in front of split end Derek Washington midway through the second quarter to intercept a pass by quarterback Jeff Graham.
Turner’s return up the left sideline gave UCLA a 35-0 lead.
By that time, the Bruins had already showcased their superiority, amassing 389 of their first-half yardage in the first 21 minutes 48 seconds.
Aikman came out throwing, completing 5 of 6 passes for 48 yards on the Bruins’ first possession. Wingback Danny Thompson scored the touchdown, taking a 1-yard pass from Aikman in the far right corner of the end zone.
Aikman was 3 of 4 for 26 yards in the next possession before Ball took a handoff, spotted a huge hole in the right side of the line and sprinted down the right sideline 56 yards for a touchdown.
Ball also scored the Bruins’ third touchdown, breaking four tackles in a 4-yard run early in the second quarter.
Aikman put his own stamp on the fourth touchdown drive, completing passes of 10 and 15 yards to Farr before hooking up with David Keating on a 69-yard touchdown pass play, the longest completion of Aikman’s career.
Keating, lined up wide to the right, simply ran past cornerback Stan Davis, and strong safety Leon Patterson had no chance to catch up to the split end. Aikman’s pass traveled about 50 yards in the air.
The Bruins’ final drive of the first half included runs of 11 and 18 yards by freshman tailback Shawn Wills and an 18-yard pass from Aikman to Reggie Moore on third-and-14 at the Long Beach 45-yard line. It ended with Aikman lofting a 9-yard touchdown pass to Moore on the right side of the end zone.
Meanwhile, the 49ers’ first-half possessions ended in six punts, an interception and, mercifully, halftime.
After VanSteenkiste’s field goal ended the 49ers’ scoring drought, UCLA got a 2-yard touchdown run from Wills in the third quarter and a 1-yard touchdown run from Maury Toy in the fourth quarter.
Said Reisbig: “We might have played the No. 1 team in the nation. We’re glad the game is over with.”
Cal State Long Beach had 129 total yards, including 22 rushing in 32 attempts. . . . UCLA is 12-1 against teams from the Big West Conference, including a 4-0 record against Long Beach, and has not lost to a Big West representative since 1943, when it was beaten by Pacific. . . . Long Beach is 1-7 against teams from the Pacific 10 Conference, its only victory coming against Oregon State in 1980. . . . Both teams have byes next week. . . . UCLA will play Washington in its Pac-10 opener Oct. 1 at Seattle. . . . Long Beach will meet Pacific in its Big West Conference opener Oct. 1 at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach. . . . UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman, a transfer from Oklahoma, said he will be in the Coliseum next Saturday to watch his ex-teammates play USC.
UCLA tight end Charles Arbuckle sprained his left knee while catching a pass from Aikman in the second quarter. Arbuckle, who was hit by defensive back Keith Washington and linebacker Tom Caines, did not return. Coach Terry Donahue said Arbuckle is “extremely doubtful” for the Washington game. . . . The loss was the worst ever for Long Beach, which was beaten, 50-0, by Fresno State in 1962. . . . UCLA has won 10 straight games in the Rose Bowl, where it is 31-6-2 since moving from the Coliseum for the 1982 season.
UCLA freshman Shawn Wills ran for 97 yards in 16 carries. He is averaging 8.66 yards a carry. . . . Darryl Henley, who averaged 40.2 yards a punt return in UCLA’s first two games, returned only one punt by Willie Lujan of Long Beach and seven times made fair catches. Because Long Beach rushed its punting unit onto the field each time, UCLA was unable to get its return unit into the game. “I was not allowed to return a punt without the punt return team,” Henley said. “It’s not like I was afraid or anything.”