PULLMAN, Wash. - Ryan Leaf threw for a career high 381 yards and three touchdowns and the Cougar defense made a courageous goal line stand late in the game as Washington State (1-0, 1-0) handed UCLA (0-1, 0-1) a 37-34 setback in the season and Pacific-10 Conference opener for both clubs before a crowd of 26,000 and a national ABC television audience.
The Cougars, after falling behind 7-0 and 14-3, scored 27 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 30-14 lead at half-time. Late in the third quarter WSU still held a 16-point advantage, only to have the Bruins ring up two touchdowns to pull within three points.
The Cougar defense then rallied inside the three-minute mark by halting UCLA's fourth down rushing attempt one yard from the endzone. Leaf then hit Shawn McWashington with a pair of key first down passes as the Cougars ran out the clock to win their sixth straight home opener.
The Bruins jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead when Skip Hicks broke loose on a 92-yard run on his club's second scrimmage play. Two plays later Hicks scored the first of his four touchdowns. He also ended the afternoon with 190 yards rushing.
The Cougars then mounted a drive from their own 20 that ended in a 20-yard Rian Lindell field goal that cut UCLA's lead to 7-3. UCLA then started off the second quarter scoring barrage when Hicks went up the middle from nine yards out seven seconds into the quarter. The Cougars responded with a 70 yard drive that ended with Michael Black, who rushed for 102 yards, scoring on a 17-yard sprint around left end.
WSU's defense held UCLA to three plays and then took over 57 yards from the Bruin endzone. Leaf and Nian Taylor then hooked up on WSU's second play, covering all 57 yards with a nifty sideline pass and sprint by the Cougar receiver.
Now in the lead 16-14 (Lindell's kick was wide), WSU's defense then forced a turnover when UCLA quarterback Cade McNown was stripped of the football and Dorian Boose rambled nine yards with the return to the Bruin 19. Five plays later Leaf dove into the endzone for a 23-14 Cougar lead.
Just when UCLA appeared to have the answering drive, WSU's defense stiffened and forced a Bruin punt from the WSU 33. This time Boose broke threw to block the punt and Rob Meier caught the ball on the run and wasn't hauled down until he reached the UCLA 22.
Two plays later, from the 29, Leaf and Taylor hooked up on another scoring toss, boosting WSU to a 30-14 half-time advantage. WSU's only score of the second half was on Leaf's short pass over the middle to Chris Jackson midway through the third quarter.
After UCLA recovered a WSU fumble at the start of the quarter and scored five plays later on another Hicks run, Jackson hauled in Leaf's pass and outran the entire Bruin secondary for 78 yards and a 37-21 lead WSU made stand up.
Leaf ended the game hitting 17 of his 30 passes, while Taylor's five catches accounted for 200 yards. McWashington also had five receptions for 49 yards. Black rushed the ball 27 times for his 102 yards. Duane Stewart and Steve Gleason each had nine tackles, while Brandon Moore and Boose each recorded one sack.
UCLA 7 7 13 7 34 WASHINGTON STATE 3 27 7 0 37
TEAM QTR TIME SCORING PLAY (Yards/Plays/Drive Time/How Gained Possession) UCLA 1 13:47 Hicks 2 run (Sailer kick) (94/4/1:13/kickoff) WSU 1 8:51 Lindell 20 field goal (77/13/4:56/kickoff) UCLA 2 14:53 Hicks 9 run (Sailer kick) (18/2/0:15/interception) WSU 2 11:07 Black 17 run (Lindell kick) (70/8/3:46/kickoff) WSU 2 8:13 Taylor 57 pass from Leaf (Lindell kick failed) (57/2/0:17/punt) WSU 2 4:36 Leaf 1 run (Lindell kick) (19/5/2:46/fumble) WSU 2 0:54 Taylor 29 pass from Leaf (Lindell kick) (22/2/0:27/punt) UCLA 3 12:50 Hicks 2 run (Sailer kick) (18/5/2:10/fumble) WSU 3 11:51 Jackson 78 pass from Leaf (Lindell kick) (80/3/0:59/kickoff) UCLA 3 2:22 Farmer 5 pass from McNown (pass failed) (72/12/4:13/missed field goal) UCLA 4 14:13 Hicks 4 run (Sailer kick) (61/3/0:48/punt)
TOTAL OFFENSE - WSU 68/529/7.8. UCLA 76/466/6.1. RUSHING - WSU 34/150/22/128/2/26: Black 27/102, Gilmore 1/26, Tims 1/8, Leaf 4/-1, McKenzie 1/-7.
UCLA 41/238/29/209/4/92: Hicks 27/190, McNown 10/18, K.Brown 2/2, Lewis 2/-1.
PASSING - WSU 34/18/2/401/3/78: Leaf 30/17/0/381/3/78, Birnbaum 3/1/1/20/0/20, Muir 1/0/1/0/0/0.
UCLA 35/19/0/257/1/50: McNown 34/19/0/257/1/50, Price 1/0/0/0/0/0.
RECEIVING - WSU: Taylor 5/200, McWashington 5/49, McKenzie 3/17, Tims 2/31, C. Jackson 1/78, Jefferson 1/23, Black 1/3.
UCLA: McElroy 5/104, Farmer 4/64, Price 2/18, Hicks 2/12, Pierce 1/14, Scott 1/11, Grieb 1/10, Lewis 1/10, Crecion 1/7, Lee 1/7.
INTERCEPTIONS - WSU: None. UCLA: Huma 1/22, Atkins 1/6. PUNTING - WSU: Banks 3/139/46.3,55. UCLA: Sailer 5/254/50.8/59. PUNT RETURNS - WSU: Tims 2/25, McKenzie 1/17, Boose 1/7, Meier 0/38. UCLA: Lewis 2/19. KICKOFF RETURNS - WSU: McKenzie 2/35. UCLA: McElroy 3/39, Allen 1/13. SCORING - WSU: Taylor 12, Lindell 7, C.Jackson 6, Black 6, Leaf 6. UCLA: Hicks 24, Farmer 6, Sailer 4. FIRST DOWNS - WSU: 20/6/11/3. UCLA: 24/10/12/2. FUMBLES/LOST - WSU: 4/2. UCLA: 2/1. PENALTIES/YARDS - WSU: 9/72. UCLA: 10/84. POSSESSION TIME - WSU: 29:45. UCLA: 30:15. THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS - WSU: 6/12. UCLA: 5/15. ATTENDANCE - 26,000 paid. WSU TACKLERS (T-P-A) -- Stewart 9/9/0, Gleason 9/9/0, B.Moore 7/5/2, Boose 6/5/1, Gibbons 4/3/1, Nelson 3/3/0, Doyle 3/3/0,
R.Jackson 3/3/0, Hollimon 2/2/0, Meier 2/2/0, Bender 2/1/1, Taylor 1/1/0, Price 1/1/0, Moronkola 1/1/0,
Salausa 1/1/0, Thomas 1/0/1. WSU SACKS -- .B.Moore 1/-7, Boose 1/-7 WSU TFL - Boose 2/-8, Meier 2/-2, B.Moore 1/-7, Gleason 1/-1, Stewart 1/-1.