No.2 UCLA Escapes Oregon Threat

Chris Sailer made the most of a second chance, Cade McNown overcame a stomach problem and No. 2 UCLA remained in the national title chase.

"Wow, that should be worth two wins," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said after Sailer's 24-yard field goal in overtime lifted the Bruins to a 41-38 victory

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  • over No. 11 Oregon in a battle of two of the nation's top offenses.

    Hampered by the strained hip flexor he suffered two weeks ago, Sailer missed a 21-yard field goal on the final play of the fourth quarter to force overtime.

    But he got another opportunity after UCLA stopped Oregon on its only possession in overtime.

    "I wish I could have ended it the first time," Sailer said. "I'm just glad the team gave us another chance and the coach had the confidence in me to give me another chance."

    "This team's special. We know we have an opportunity here. For me to let that slip away would have been a big blow. No one got down on me, they went in there, took care of business in overtime."

    UCLA (5-0, 3-0 Pac-10) extended its school-record winning streak to 15 games -- longest in the nation -- but had some anxious moments after Oregon (5-1, 2-1) scored 24 straight points to take a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.

    The Bruins tied the game on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jermaine Lewis with 10:13 remaining, and went ahead 38-31 on a 60-yard touchdown pass from McNown to Danny Farmer with 2:36 left.

    But the Ducks tied the game on a 2-yard pass from Akili Smith to Damon Giffin with 22 seconds to play and Nathan Villegas' conversion. Smith kept the drive alive by completing a 19-yard pass to Griffin on fourth-and-16, putting the ball at the UCLA 23.

    McNown's 53-yard pass to backup quarterback Drew Bennett, in the game at wide receiver, gave Sailer his chip shot attempt to win the game in regulation, but the kick was wide left.

    Oregon's overtime possession was a disaster. Brendon Ayanbadejo sacked Smith on the first two plays for 12 yards in losses before Smith threw an incompletion and a desperation pass that Ryan Roques intercepted.

    "You couldn't even plan on having such a great defensive stand right there," Ayanbadejo said. "It was just amazing. For a second, I was starting to think maybe it was their fate to win the game, just out of the things that they were pulling out of their pockets."

    That gave the Bruins the ball at the Oregon 25, and Keith Brown ran for 13 yards on two plays to get UCLA close. Sailer connected after three more running plays gained six yards.

    McNown, who played despite being ill to the point where he vomited before

    UCLA vs. Oregon
    UCLA's Ryan Roques breaks up a pass intended for Oregon's Bobby Nero in the first quarter Saturday. The Bruins' 15-game winning streak is the longest in the nation. (AP)
    and during the game, was 20-of-36 for 395 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.

    "He made big plays when he had to make big plays," Toledo said. "He's our leader He directs the offense. The key thing is to get your team across the right stripe, and he does that."

    Said McNown: "I was feeling a little under the weather today. But we battled back. We did a lot of regrouping. To be able to come out the way we did is really spectacular."

    McNown completed 9-of-13 passes for 202 yards after vomiting on the field late in the third quarter following a 25-yard scramble.

    Farmer caught seven passes for 161 yards, and Brown rushed for a team-leading 101 yards on 19 carries.

    Smith was 15-of-37 for 221 yards and three touchdowns with one interception; Griffin had nine receptions for 113 yards, and Reuben Droughns rushed for 172 yards on 25 carries, but lost three fumbles.

    In all, the Ducks committed five turnovers - one fewer than they had in their previous five games.

    "The first half was my worst nightmare come true," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "I was pleased the way we fought back. We turned the ball over way too much.

    "I told our team we only had three hours to be down. SC is next week."

    The Ducks took their 31-24 lead with 12:13 left on a 36-yard TD pass from Smith to Tony Hartley.

    After Lewis' TD run, UCLA had a chance to g ahead, but Sailer's 42-yard field goal with 6:58 left was blocked by Anthony Martin.

    "We had a horrible day," Smith said. "If we play up to our potential, we could have beaten these guys easy. The fumbles just killed us. We had a victory right there, and we gave it away."

    Oregon and UCLA entered the game ranked 2-3 in the nation in scoring, averaging 50.6 and 48 points, respectively, and they didn't disappoint. The totaled 79 points and 985 yards -- 547 by the Bruins, 438 by the Ducks.

    UCLA scored three TDs and a field goal on its first four possessions, taking a 14-0 lead on a 51-yard scoring pass from McNown to freshman DeShaun Foster and a 4-yard run by Foster, who suffered a sprained left knee early in the second quarter and didn't return.

    Smith threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jed Weaver before the Bruins extended their lead on a 25-yard field goal by Sailer and a 6-yard TD pass from McNown to Farmer.

    Smith's 2-yard run with one second left before halftime cut UCLA's lead to 24-14.

    A crowd of 75,367 watched the game at the Rose Bowl.

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