Cade McNown and Jermaine Lewis traded roles just enough to cross-up California.
McNown threw for two
"McNown running with the football was huge. He made some big first downs for us," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. "The knockout was the halfback pass."
Cal's defense, top-ranked in the Pac-10, held the Bruins' high-powered offense to a season low in points, blitzing on nearly every play and putting constant hits on McNown.
But the Golden Bears' aggressiveness also cost them. They never saw Lewis' trick play coming as he passed 30 yards for a score to backup receiver Jon Dubravac. And McNown scrambled for key gains, finishing with 57 yards rushing, and was 15-of-27 for 182 yards.
"Their defense plays extremely tough. We had to fight out there," McNown said. "But we made enough plays to win. I caught a seam a couple of times and was able to scamper for first downs."
Cal defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich said the game turned on a few plays.
"We tried to beat him up but he out-executed us really," he said of McNown. "We played fairly well and chased the ball. But we had four or five critical situations where they executed and we didn't so they won."
Lewis, UCLA's leading rusher, ran for 6 yards for the Bruins (6-0, 4-0 Pac-10), who had scored at least 41 points in each of their previous five games and are off to their best start since opening 7-0 in 1988.
"That was a great defense, the toughest we've played this year," Lewis said. "But that's adversity championship teams have to overcome. We kept on going, we kept pounding on the rock and it broke."
Trailing 21-9, the Golden Bears (4-3, 2-2) twice advanced inside the UCLA 2 but came up empty because of a second-quarter turnover and a third-quarter goal-line stand culminating in UCLA's stop of Samuel Clemons' fourth-down quarterback sneak.
Clemons had come in for Justin Vedder prior to the sneak and UCLA anticipated it.
"That was a great stand," Toledo said. "We put pressure on the quarterback and the defense rose to the occasion."
Cal coach Tom Holmoe said it never entered his mind that the quarterback switch might tip off the Bruins.
"Maybe everyone in the stadium knew that but us," Holmoe said. "But if you can't get that much on one play, you really don't deserve it. There's no reason for us not to make it."
Cal fought back to put together another third-quarter drive, this time finishing it with Vedder's 2-yard scoring pass to Joel Young and pulling to 21-16 with 36 seconds left in the period.
But UCLA responded on its next possession. With Cal's defense geared up to stop the run, Lewis pulled up and lofted a pass to the wide-open Dubravac for the score.
"They disguised it pretty well. Our execution just broke down," Setencich said.
Cal was poised to score after driving to the UCLA 1 in the final seconds of the second quarter but Josh White fumbled on second-and-goal and the ball squirted into the arms of safety Larry Atkins. He was hit immediately and also appeared to fumble, with Cal recovering, but officials ruled Atkins was already down because his knee touched the ground when he first recovered White's fumble.
Cal struck first, getting a 2-yard touchdown run from Saleem Muhammad after Jerry DeLoach sacked McNown on UCLA's first play from scrimmage, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Jacob Waasdorp.
UCLA answered with a 91-yard drive, helped along by Durell Price's 40-yard run. McNown finished it off with his first touchdown pass to Brian Poli-Dixon, a 17-yarder. The two teamed up again, this time from 35 yards out, to put UCLA in front 14-7.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved