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UCLA football: Bruins defeat Arizona State, 23-13

November 21, 2009 |  1:25 pm


Although the final score was UCLA 23, Arizona State 13, the real score in the game was 6-0. That would be six turnovers for the Sun Devils and zero for the Bruins.

Bruins cornerback Alterraun Verner opened the scoring in the game with a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown and Akeem Ayers scooped up a fumble by ASU quarterback Samson Szakacsy, who was hit by defensive tackle Brian Price, and scored on a nine-yard return with 1:19 left before halftime to set the tone in the victory.

UCLA (6-5, 3-5 in Pacific 10 Conference play), which became eligible for a bowl with the win, forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Kai Forbath made the second of his three field goals on the afternoon for a 20-7 lead at halftime.

Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince, who was roughed up a couple of times and left the game late in the third quarter with a leg injury before returning in the fourth, completed 15 of 31 passes for 161 yards. He also ran for 42 yards in six carries. Chane Moline added 84 yards in 25 carries, while Nelson Rosario had five receptions for 74 yards.

Szakacsy completed 15 of 22 passes for 197 yards and scoring strikes of 35 and 70 yards to Kyle Williams, who had six receptions for 128 yards on the day. Dimitri Nance led all rushers with 110 yards in 21 carries for Arizona State (4-7, 2-6). 

UCLA 23, Arizona State 13 (final)

The Sun Devils had two chances to close the gap on the Bruins in the final minutes, but one drive ended on a fourth-and-26 play when quarterback Samson Szakacsy fumbled as he was forced to scramble and their final possession ended on their sixth turnover of the game, another Szakacsy fumble in the pocket.

UCLA 23, Arizona State 13 (6:29 remaining)

For only the third time in his career, Bruins kicker Kai Forbath has missed a field-goal attempt of 50-plus yards.

UCLA drove inside the Sun Devils' 25-yard line, but a holding penalty pushed them back. After a short gain on third down, Forbath was sent out for a 51-yard try. He had plenty of leg but pulled the ball left. Forbath is now nine for 12 on field-goal attempts of 50-plus yards.

UCLA 23, Arizona State 13 (fourth quarter)

UCLA pieces together a 75-yard drive, with the big play being a 35-yard pass from Kevin Prince to Nelson Rosario. It stalls at the seven and Kai Forbath knocks home a 25-yard field goal.

Arizona State answers, when quarterback Samson Szakacsy scrambles and finds Kyle Williams, who had slipped behind linebacker Kyle Bosworth. A wide-open Jovon Williams then drops a pass that would have been a sure two-point conversion.

UCLA 20, Arizona State 7 (end of third quarter)

The third quarter ends with UCLA leading, 20-7, and quarterback Kevin Prince on the bench after being hit by Arizona State’s William Sutton. Prince appeared to have an injury to his left leg.

Prince is back in the lineup to start the fourth quarter.

UCLA 20, Arizona State 7 (halftime)

There was little need for a UCLA offensive display during the first half this afternoon at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins' defense was taking care of everything.

Two defensive touchdowns gave UCLA a 20-7 lead over Arizona State at halftime, inching the Bruins a bit closer to being bowl eligible.

Cornerback Alterraun Verner returned an interception 68 yards three minutes into the game. Linebacker Akeem Ayers picked up a fumble and went nine yards for a touchdown with 1:19 left in the half.

That was more than enough points to put UCLA comfortably ahead of an Arizona State team that has struggled this season.

Verner has returned four interceptions for touchdowns in his career, a UCLA record. He has five total return touchdowns -- one coming on a blocked field goal -- which ties a UCLA record. It was Ayers' second touchdown this season.

Those defensive booster shots were necessary, as the offense was sporadic, partly because the Bruins repeatedly hurt themselves.

On one drive, quarterback Kevin Prince completed six of six passes for 78 yards. Yet the Bruins settled for Kai Forbath’s 23-yard field goal after penalties disrupted the offensive flow. UCLA had three penalties on the drive, including a false start on guard Jake Dean on a first-and-goal play at the Arizona State nine-yard line.

Forbath also had a 20-yard field at the end of the half, after Arizona State’s Jamal Miles lost the ball on a kickoff return, with UCLA’s Sean Westgate recovering.

Prince has passed for 99 yards and is UCLA’s leading rusher with 42 yards.

Arizona State’s only score came on 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Samson Szakacsy to wide receiver Kyle Williams, who made a diving catch in the end zone.

UCLA 17, Arizona State 7 (second quarter)

UCLA’s defense provides for the Bruins once again. Defensive tackle Brian Price bolts in on Arizona State quarterback Samson Szakacsy, forcing a fumble. Linebacker Akeem Ayers picked it up and maneuvered nine yards for a touchdown, extending the ball to get it over the goal line.

It was Ayers' second touchdown this season.

Arizona State’s Jamal Miles just lost the ball on the kickoff return, with UCLA’s Sean Westgate recovering. UCLA has the ball on the Arizona State 17-yard line.

UCLA 10, Arizona State 7 (second quarter)

The Bruins drove 77 yards for a field goal despite themselves. UCLA had three penalties on the drive, two for false starts and the other for face masking. With a first down at the nine-yard line, guard Jake Dean jumped, pushing the Bruins back. Four plays later, they settled for a 22-yard field by Kai Forbath.

Quarterback Kevin Prince was six-for-six passing for 78 yards on the drive.

UCLA 7, Arizona State 7 (end of first quarter)

Arizona State battered UCLA, using running back Dimitri Nance. After getting to the Bruins’ 35-yard line, quarterback Samson Szakacsy faked to Nance, then rolled right and finally found wide receiver Kyle Williams, who made a diving catch in the end zone.

Nance, who has 76 yards rushing, gained 21 yards on the 80-yard drive.

UCLA 7, Arizona State 0 (first quarter)

Arizona State got the ball first and was chewing up the UCLA defense. Then …

Sun Devils receiver Kerry Taylor ran one route -- a hitch and go. Quarterback Samson Szakacsy threw a pass that looked like he was expecting an out pattern or a hook. UCLA’s Alterraun Verner intercepted the pass and went 68 yards for a touchdown.

Verner now has returned four interceptions for touchdowns in his career, a UCLA record. He has scored five return touchdowns total, one on a blocked field goal, which ties a UCLA record.

-- Chris Foster

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Photo: UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers reaches for the goal line to score on a fumble recovery return in the first half Saturday against Arizona State. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times