Cowan’s timely running scrambles Trojans’ plans
UCLA quarterback Patrick Cowan did not throw for a touchdown and had only 114 yards passing against USC on Saturday. But Cowan proved to be a difference maker with his running, especially on the Bruins’ only touchdown drive of the game when he scrambled for 55 yards in four carries.
“Oh yeah, you could see the worry in their faces when Pat started to take off and run,” offensive guard Shannon Tevaga said about Cowan, who scored UCLA’s touchdown with a one-yard run.
“I think he reminded them of Vince Young and what he did to them.”
After Cowan’s success on the ground, USC’s defense was forced to make adjustments, which worked to UCLA’s favor, according to fullback Michael Pitre.
“It changed their schemes,” Pitre said. “In certain situations, we noticed that they were bringing down an extra safety and started to blitz from the weakside because they were so worried about Pat. That really helped us out.
“We started to dictate to them instead of having them dictating what we were going to do. You have to play like that against SC, because they have a great defense. You have to break their comfort zone and when you do that, this happens.”
Late in the fourth quarter, USC had some success with a no-huddle offense, but UCLA linebacker Reggie Carter said the Bruins remained in control.
“We were still bringing pressure, we just had to remember our keys,” said Carter, who finished with three tackles, including one for a loss. “We just had to stick with our game plan.”
Carter said the Bruins had to remember what defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker told them leading up to the game: “We weren’t going to play soft against them just because they have a high-powered offense,” Carter said. “We came out playing fast and we did that for four quarters.”
Middle linebacker Christian Taylor led UCLA with 11 tackles, including seven solo. Safeties Chris Horton and Dennis Keyes each finished with eight. Cornerback Rodney Van had seven. ... Sophomore Ryan Graves had a 24-yard punt return, the longest of his career for the Bruins.
-- Lonnie White
USC tackles Sam Baker and Kyle Williams were under fire all day from UCLA defensive ends Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis and other pass rushers.
The Bruins had six tackles for losses, including two sacks.
“They brought a lot of different guys different ways,” Baker said. “I didn’t think they were that quick. We just weren’t picking it up as well.
“We did a lot of stuff to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Williams was called for a false-start penalties three times.
“The first one was because of the noise, the second one I didn’t think it was a false start and the third was just a miscommunication on the snap count,” he said.
John David Booty and USC were victimized twice by tipped passes in losses this season.
Oregon State tipped away a two-point conversion pass to preserve its 33-31 upset of the Trojans on Oct. 28.
And UCLA linebacker Eric McNeal clinched Saturday’s victory by intercepting the pass he tipped with 1:10 remaining.
“The dude jumped up and tipped it to himself,” Booty said. “That’s happened to me lately. ... I haven’t seen too many guys do that and I’ve seen a lot of football.”
USC Coach Pete Carroll enjoyed five years of bliss, knowing his teams had defeated UCLA each year. Now the Bruins have bragging rights.
“They live right here. They get to enjoy this all year and I’m sure they’ll have a great time with it,” Carroll said. “We have a tremendous opportunity where we were in control of this rivalry and all that. It’s been great fun and I’ve loved every minute of it.
“I’m sure in the months ahead, I’ll be reminded a million times of how much I don’t like the other side of this thing. It’s a great day for the Bruins.”
-- Gary Klein
In case anyone questioned his toughness, Cowan sent a resounding message by bouncing back to his feet after a huge hit by linebacker Rey Maualuga in the fourth quarter. It came on third and nine from the UCLA 16, when Cowan rolled to his right and scrambled six yards up the USC sideline.
“I was thinking he was going to run out of bounds at the last second,” Maualuga said. “He just went straight up, so I lowered my shoulder and gave him a hit. ... I gave him a pop. He got right up.”
-- Sam Farmer
It’s not often that the punter gets in the last big hit, but UCLA’s Aaron Perez did exactly that against USC.
On the next-to-last play, he boomed a punt far over the head of return man Desmond Reed, who was hoping to make a fair catch and give USC a couple of more plays to attempt a miracle comeback. By the time Reed ran down Perez’s kick -- at the USC 12-yard line, 63 yards from the previous line of scrimmage -- there were only five seconds on the clock.
Perez said the plan called for him to punt the ball out of bounds. He missed there, but got all of the ball. “When I hit it and then saw him turn and start running back for the ball I knew I hit it good,” he said.
-- Mike Hiserman