UCLA freshman defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa sat on the team bench with just minutes to play, eyes bulging, tears streaming down his face, screaming at his teammates.
“I refuse to give up!” Odighizuwa said. “I refuse to give up. This isn’t over! It is not over!”
Maybe not, but UCLA’s bowl chances might be.
After a 24-7 loss at Husky Stadium on Thursday night in front of 62,347 and a nationally televised ESPN audience, the Bruins now must win at Arizona State next Friday and at the Rose Bowl on Dec. 4 against USC just to become bowl eligible.
Down to its fifth-string quarterback by the end of the game – walk-on Clayton Tunney – had as much success through the air as the Hindenberg.
After sophomore quarterback Richard Brehaut suffered a concussion midway through the third quarter with the Bruins trailing 10-7, sophomore quarterback Darius Bell entered the game and promptly gave Washington a 17-7 lead.
Bell’s interception to Quentin Richardson with six minutes, 22 seconds remaining, and Richardson jaunted his way into the end zone, ending Bell’s night, and perhaps the Bruins’ bowl hopes.
“We knew we had them,” said Washington wide receiver Devin Aguilar, who led the team with 29 yards receiving. “Going into halftime, we knew we could make plays. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, but we knew we were going to break out on offense, and eventually, they weren’t playing hard like they were in the beginning.”
For one quarter, UCLA looked like it would only need one more win the rest of the way.
The Bruins jumped on top of the Huskies early, riding running backs Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman into the end zone on the team’s second drive of the game.
After the teams traded three-and-outs to start the game, UCLA had the ball on its eight-yard line. Thirteen plays and 92 yards later, the Bruins had a 7-0 lead, Franklin breaking off a 31-yard touchdown run.
The UCLA defense responded in kind on Washington’s next possession, as Aaron Hester wrestled a Jake Locker pass away from a Husky receiver, coming down with the interception on the Washington 31-yard line.
Two short runs gave UCLA a 3rd-and-5, and a Richard Brehaut incomplete pass left the Bruins on the 26-yard line, ready for a Kai Forbath field goal to stake them a 10-0 lead.
The kick was wide right and woefully short, and that was about as much fun as UCLA would have the rest of the game.
Washington took some time to score, but once the Huskies did, they didn’t stop.
After holding Washington and star quarterback Jake Locker – who was medically cleared for the game on Tuesday after suffering a broken rib earlier in the year – to just 33 first-half yards, the Bruins lost the momentum.
They lost it hard, and they lost it fast.
Locker scored from three yards out midway through the second quarter, hurdling UCLA junior safety Rahim Moore into the end zone for the touchdown, and Washington held the Bruins to 11 yards over their next two drives before heading into the lockerroom with the game tied at seven.
Then the Huskies really turned on the pressure, allowing 46 second-half yards to the Bruins.
“We’ve seen all we can see on defense, nothing can take us by surprise,” UCLA junior center Ryan Taylor said. “It wasn’t a scheme thing. They ran a regular defense. It was us. I don’t know man, it is what it is.”