Turner emerges as most important '1' for UCLA
PASADENA, Calif. -- California wide receiver DeSean Jackson wears No. 1 on his jersey and it looked like he would be the one to lead the Bears to their first victory in the Rose Bowl since 1999.
Instead it was someone else wearing the No. 1 who made the biggest impact.
UCLA cornerback Alterraun Turner intercepted Cal quarterback Nate Longshore and returned it 76 yards for the clinching touchdown to lead UCLA to a 30-21 victory to remain atop the Pacific-10 Conference standings.
It was the second interception of the game for Turner, who said UCLA's defense overcame a slow start to turn the tide.
"Our mindset was to keep them out of the end zone," Turner said. "We had to eliminate the big plays, then just play technique. We felt if we at least gave our offense a shot, good things would happen."
The victory put UCLA (5-2, 4-0) in the catbird's seat of the Pac-10 while it all but crushed any hopes Cal (5-2, 2-2) had of winning the conference title for the second years in a row. UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said Turner took advantage of the extra week to study Cal's offense and it paid off with his interception to seal the win.
"It's good to see him recognize in that critical of a down what they would like to do," Dorrell said.
UCLA's defense not only had three interceptions but it also limited the Cal run game, holding the Bears to just 67 rushing yards.
"That was a big step," Turner said about the run defense. "Justin Forsett is a great back and we knew we had to stop him if we wanted to win. Ultimately, we did a great job stopping the run."
It also didn't hurt UCLA's two turnovers didn't lead to any Cal points. UCLA's defense proved why it had so much hype entering the season with its run defense and four turnovers but it did suffer a loss late in the game when linebacker Christian Taylor left the game with a concussion. Dorrell said he expects him to be all right, which is going to be critical for the defense to build off this victory.
While Cal couldn't run the ball, it might have been the key for the UCLA offense. Khalil Bell ran for 142 yards on 22 carries and the Bruins finished with 183 rushing yards total. UCLA also seems to believe it can capture the Pac-10 crown with quarterback Pat Cowan healthy. Cowan lost the starting job to Ben Olson before the season began but many felt Dorrell and his staff picked the wrong player. Injuries knocked Olson out for the season but Cowan had to overcome some injuries of his own before he could return to the field. He looked healthy and prepared on Saturday, completing 18 of 27 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.
"Pat's our guy," Bell said. "We're going to ride it out with Pat.
"He worked back from two injuries and has lead us to two wins over Washington and Cal. That speaks volumes about him."