Chauncey Washington powers it in for a touchdown in the 2007 USC-UCLA rivalry game. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
It was bad news bears, or Bruins rather, for UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell. He had hoped to go into the Coliseum and repeat last year’s upset win over the Trojans. Instead he left the Coliseum with another loss, a 6-6 season, and a possible end to his UCLA coaching career.
Many critics had proclaimed this season to be the Fall of Troy. With the regular-season closing win over UCLA, USC improves to 10-2 for the season, clinches its 6th consecutive Pac-10 title, and secures its place at the BCS Rose Bowl. Not too shabby.
It was an emotional start to the game, not only because the it was USC Senior Day – the day on which many of the talented Trojan players would be running out the tunnel for the last time, but because both Mario Danelo’s parents and Drean Rucker’s father ran out onto field with the seniors in place of their respective sons. USC kicker Mario Danelo accidentally fell to his death before the start of the 2007 season. Drean Rucker, a star-linebacker recruit, drowned before the start of his college career started in 2003.
It was a well-balanced game for the Trojans, though not nearly exciting as the Thanksgiving romp of Arizona State. Although there were no breakout runs, USC kept the ground game consistent and hard. That sort of power run is expected from Chauncey Washington who had 13 carries for 66 yards and 1 touchdown. But Stafon Johnson (15 for 73 yards) and Joe Mcknight (13 for 89 yards and one touchdown) turned it on, mixing their great vision and their ability to plant, swivel and slip tacklers with some rock hard power. The final rushing totals were staggering and likely the difference in the game: USC 231 yards, UCLA 12 yards. Yeah…there’s a little bit of a difference there.
Booty was fairly consistent with 21/36 for 206 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The wind was no doubt a factor, likely keeping the passing totals down. The day before the game Los Angeles had its first heavy downpour of the season, and although the sky was dry by 1pm on Saturday, the heavy winds remained. In traditional fashion Booty spread the ball among his receivers, with Stanley Havili looking like he did in the beginning of the season, netting 4 catches for 66 yards. Hazelton and Davis were the other go-to receivers, while and Turner and Ausberry had a couple impressive catches each. Gred Woidneck had a nice 43-yard long field goal.
It was a turnover sort of game. UCLA started their possession, by immediately giving it up, with UCLA return-man Terrence Austin fumbling the punt return and giving it right back to USC. Unfortunately USC couldn’t capitalize, as Chauncey Washington was stopped after going for it on 4th and 1 at the UCLA 24. It didn’t really make much of a difference though, as four plays into their second drive Keith Rivers forced UCLA’s Chris Markey to fumble the ball on UCLA’s 32, which Rivers also recovered it right back for the Trojans. Booty capitalized on that one, with a 27-yard threading the needle pass to Stanley Havili to land the Trojans at the UCLA 5-yard line. McKnight danced it in for the TD.
Late in the first, partly because of the wind and partly because it was just a bad throw, Booty tossed an interception to UCLA’s Trey Brown. But the Trojan defense was impenetrable, holding UCLA to fourth and out on nearly every drive in the first two quarters. McKnight also had a fumble on the UCLA 13 in the middle of the third quarter, which would have seemed worse if Terrell Thomas hadn’t turned it right back around by intercepting UCLA’s Patrick Cowan two plays later.
It wasn’t until the very end of the second that UCLA seemed to get some rhythm. The Bruins had nothing, and I mean nothing going until they got the ball back with 45 seconds left in the half. Then in five plays, UCLA marched 54-yards down the field to set up Dominique Johnson’s amazing Hazelton-like, one handed grab to give UCLA (along with the PAT) its only score of the game. In the end the total yards pretty much said it all: UCLA 168, USC 437.
Karl’s Bad Call: Oh, and because the rest of the world will be talking about Karl Dorrell’s terrible call…Early in the 4th quarter, USC was knocking on UCLA’s door. It was 3rd and 2 on UCLA’s goal-line, when USC got hit with a holding penalty. Dorrell could let it go to 4th and 2 and force USC to a field-goal or try to make a goal line stop if the Trojans decided to go for it. UCLA had held USC on 4th and 1, if it came down to it, it was reasonable they could stop SC again. But instead Dorrell took the holding penalty, making it 3rd and 12, and giving USC some throwing room and two more shots for a touchdown. Booty threw an easy twelve-yard touchdown to Fred Davis, putting the game’s last points on the board. Not the kind of call one should make, if one is trying to keep his coaching position…not mentioning any names here.
Oh, yeah, this graphic is a little sick. Found it on the internet, not sure who made it. But, it’s fairly representative of the game.