Arlington Tx- The stage was set for the second showdown in AT&T Stadium this college season. The state of Texas fans of college football had the pleasure of seeing #12 ranked Ucla Bruins (3-0) beat the Texas Longhorns (1-2) in Advocare Cowboy Showdown in a thriller 20-17 game. How ironic being at the stadium nicknamed “Jerry’s World” for an unlikely hero being Ucla backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel to save the day. Jerry found wide receiver Jordan Payton on hitch and go route, with a pump fake the corner bit and 33 yards later Payton found pay dirt to secure the victory with that touchdown leaving only 3 minutes on the clock.
The lights were bright and both teams had something to prove in this showdown. The headlines were normal for Ucla which Bruin team will show up for the big game. Texas game plan was don’t let Brett Hundley Ucla starting quarterback bet us. Longhorns captain blew the coin toss giving the Bruins both kickoffs at start of the game and to start the 3rd quarter by wanting to be on defense after the Bruins already deferred their choice to the second half. On the opening drive of the third quarter the Bruins who were trailing 3-10 at the half drove 75 yards on seven plays to score and tie game 10-10. This was a big shift in momentum for the team looking for greatness out of Jerry the backup.
From the moment Jerry came in the game to replace the injured Hundley at 4:29 mark in first quarter after an 11 yard scramble that was costly due to some injury to non throwing arm. Jerry had to be ready at a moment’s notice and fill in during this battle, Jerry said “You’re just kinda ready for it. Obviously there are some nerves but it’s your job as a backup quarterback to go in and take control and lead your team to victory.” The team responded to him well and Head Coach Jim Mora allowed Jerry to gain confidence with high percentage passing plays and an aggressive running game that was clicking. The committee of running backs out gained Texas by 105 yards on the day while averaging 4.6 yards a carry. The offensive line stepped up the blocking making holes to allow the chains to keep moving and allowing manageable 3rd down situations.
Ucla’s defense really stepped up in this hostile Texas home game despite being designated the home team for this special game. Captain Linebacker Eric Kendricks lead the team with 7 solo, 4 asst & 11 total tackles for the game. But even more being that defensive leader on the field communicating to others was huge for the Bruins. Both Safeties starting their first game for the Bruins defense was #21 Tahaan Goodman who made some great hits and applied some tight coverage also adding 3 tackles. Then there was true freshman #2 Jaleel Wadood who seemed to thrive in bright lights being one year removed from St. John Bosco high school in Bellflower. Wadood was all over the field showing he belonged amassing 6 solo, 3 asst for total 9 tackles in his new role as a starter. I know the whole secondary made defensive back coach Demetrice Martin proud. This game was great team effort to be victories and remaining undefeated.
The Bruins have a bye this week and will have opportunity to work on next game plan to stop strong arm quarterback of Arizona State senior Taylor Kelly. This game will be on the road in Tempe, Az Thursday September 25, at 7pm labeled “The Blackout”