10:15 PM ET, November 18, 2006
Sun Devil Stadium, TEMPE, AZ
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The UCLA Bruins are making a late bowl push.
They can only hope it's not too late.
Behind a dominant defensive performance, UCLA became bowl-eligible with a 24-12 victory over Arizona State Saturday night. But the Bruins (6-5, 4-4 in the Pac-10) may still need to upset crosstown rival Southern California Dec. 2 in Pasadena to earn a postseason invitation.
"This was real big," said wide receiver Brandon Breazell, who caught two long touchdown passes from Patrick Cowan. "We were really focused on getting bowl-eligible, and we talked about that for the second half of the season."
ASU (6-5, 3-5) is already bowl-eligible but may need to beat arch rival Arizona in Tucson next week to nail down a bid.
"It makes it huge, that's for sure," ASU coach Dirk Koetter said. "I don't know if you can make it any bigger than it is already."
The Bruins limited ASU to 264 total yards and sacked ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter five times. Late in the first quarter, Bruins cornerback Trey Brown intercepted a Carpenter pass and returned it 19 yards to the ASU 1, setting up a 1-yard plunge by tailback Chane Moline.
"Our defense did a nice job today of really containing their offense," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "We put pressure on the quarterback. They ran the ball decently against us, but we covered them real well."
UCLA's offense didn't do much, but it didn't have to. Most of the Bruins' production came on two touchdown passes from Cowan to Breazell.
Cowan, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 187 yards, teamed up with Breazell for a 56-yard touchdown that gave UCLA a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. And he hit Breazell for a 35-yard score with 6:41 left in the game to put the Bruins up 24-12 and sealed the victory.
The Bruins were at their best deep in their own territory. Arizona State had 12 offensive snaps inside the UCLA 10-yard line and managed only two field goals.
"The main factor in the game was we didn't finish in the red zone," said Koetter, whose team failed to score a touchdown for the first time since its 27-0 loss to California on Oct. 30, 2004. "If we finish with touchdowns instead of field goals, then we're in it."
The Sun Devils' Jesse Ainsworth kicked four field goals, one shy of the school record.
"I'm not used to kicking four field goals," said Ainsworth, who kicked that many a week ago. "I wish we could have scored more."
It was a rare defensive struggle for teams that had combined to score at least 80 points in three of their last four meetings.
ASU missed a chance to take its first lead of the game on the opening possession of the second half. The Sun Devils drove 57 yards for first-and-goal at the UCLA 4, but had to settle for Ainsworth's fourth field goal to cut UCLA's lead to 14-12.
The Bruins responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Justin Medlock's 24-yard field goal. The key play came when the Bruins lined up to punt at their own 27. The snap went to fullback Danny Nelson, who ran 27 yards to the ASU 46.
Facing a relentless pass rush, Carpenter completed only 11 of 30 passes for 149 yards and one interception. It was the fourth interception in three games for Carpenter, who had gone 75 passes without an interception earlier this season.
"Their blitzes were tough," Koetter said.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-13||4-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-2|
|TD||8:24||BRANDON BREAZELL 56 YD PASS FROM PATRICK COWAN (JUSTIN MEDLOCK KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 73 yards.
|FG||3:34||JESSE AINSWORTH 45 YD FG|
Drive info: 11 plays, 52 yards.
|TD||14:55||CHANE MOLINE 1 YD RUN (JUSTIN MEDLOCK KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 1 yards.
|FG||12:00||JESSE AINSWORTH 35 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 14 yards.
|FG||0:14||JESSE AINSWORTH 20 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 32 yards.
|FG||11:08||JESSE AINSWORTH 20 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 62 yards.
|FG||0:29||JUSTIN MEDLOCK 24 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||6:41||BRANDON BREAZELL 35 YD PASS FROM PATRICK COWAN (JUSTIN MEDLOCK KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 55 yards.