3:30 PM ET, November 1, 2003
Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Luke Powell has been waiting two seasons to make a phenomenal punt return, and the Stanford football team has been desperate for weeks to get a monumental victory.
Powell sparked the Cardinal's 21-14 upset over UCLA on Saturday with a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown, and Chris Lewis passed for a score and ran for another to send the Bruins to their first conference loss and the Cardinal to their first Pac-10 win.
This was a huge confidence boost for Stanford, humiliated last week at Oregon 35-0, and the biggest victory yet in coach Buddy Teevens' two-year tenure.
"They're all big wins, but this certainly comes at a nice time," Teevens said. "Our guys, they don't blink, they don't flinch. There's a resilience and resolve."
Stanford (3-4, 1-4 Pac-10) did it by playing the complete game it had been desperately looking for -- with strong performances on offense, defense and special teams. Lewis, a fifth-year senior, played with poise as a fill-in for injured freshman quarterback Trent Edwards.
Lewis went 12-of-20 for 91 yards with an interception.
Powell snapped a 7-all tie with his impressive return 2:28 before halftime. Powell was a first-team All-America kick returner as a sophomore two years ago when he ranked second in the nation in punt returns, but was hurt most of last season and had been ineffective so far this year.
"It was a huge momentum swing and they really didn't recover from it," Powell said. "I made one guy miss and all I saw was the punter. I was just telling myself, 'Do not get caught by the punter.' I wouldn't have heard the end of that."
This week, Teevens predicted that a breakthrough win was coming soon for the Cardinal, saying his players have remained confident despite the frustrating results. But this didn't seem like the week Stanford would do it, considering UCLA's latest defensive success.
But the Bruins defense that has been spectacular lately was upstaged by Stanford's defense and several big plays by the Cardinal, who had their second-best scoring output of the season and huddled at midfield after the win.
UCLA coach Karl Dorrell stood outside his team's locker room after the game with his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face.
"We got a loss in conference, at least that's over with," Dorrell said. "Hopefully we can rebound from this. They played a smart game plan. They took care of the football and put us in disadvantageous positions. They didn't make many mistakes with the football and we made more mistakes."
Stanford's effective blitzing scheme kept constant pressure on quarterback Matt Moore, who sat on the grass on both knees in frustration for several seconds after one long pass sailed well beyond his intended receiver. UCLA (6-3, 4-1) went to backup Drew Olson midway through the fourth quarter.
Olson led a scoring drive capped by Maurice Drew's second rushing TD of the game, a 2-yard run with 5:28 left, but the comeback effort fell short.
The Cardinal had eight sacks, three shy of the 11 they had all season coming into the game.
When Stanford punted late in the third, the ball hit off a UCLA player's leg and the Cardinal's Marcus McCutcheon -- the son of former Los Angeles Rams running back Lawrence McCutcheon -- recovered on the UCLA 8, giving Stanford great field position that led to Lewis' 1-yard scoring run with 1 second left in the quarter.
That was one of several costly plays for UCLA, which would have maintained first place in the Pac-10 with a win and also likely earned a top-25 ranking.
Stanford had allowed 51 points in the first quarter in its previous six games, but the Bruins didn't score until Drew's 9-yard TD run 57 seconds into the second quarter for a 7-0 lead.
That's when Stanford's vapid offense began to show signs of life for the first time in two games. Stanford had only 206 yards of offense but held UCLA to 287 -- 48 rushing.
After failing on seven plays from the 2-yard line last week, Teevens got creative and went away from his conservative play calling in the red zone to give his team a better chance.
On third down, Lewis had three players lined up behind him to form an "I" -- a tight end and two running backs. Lewis then found Matt Traverso wide open in the end zone for a 2-yard TD reception that tied the game at 7 with 9:06 left in the second quarter.
Powell's big run was the second-longest punt return for a touchdown in school history. Thomas Henley returned one 92 yards against Oregon in 1986.