Friday, October 23, 2009

ON A CLEAR DAY, U C L A

We were hot. 35 points and 377 yards—and that was just in the first half! But hot was the Rose Bowl. Over 100 degrees—oddly no smog to protect us from the sun. Goobs had to buy a Bruin Hat (Gold with a Blue “B”) just to avoid heat stroke. Talking about heat stroke, hot was in the bar at the Newport Fairmont where we checked in. There were two distinguished distaffs with long blond hair, a plentitude of pulchritude, short midriff’s, tiny waists and tall, tall heels (but who was looking).

“They must be hookers,” my wife said. Then she pointed to three beautiful Asian women seated at a table with a couple of Pelican Island frat boys, totally “too-ed”, with motorcycle helmets at the ready. We assumed a porn flick was in the making.

We’re from a small town so we don’t get to see big city sin too often. We were agog. We haven’t experienced many women who refer to Pamela Anderson as “Twiggy.”

Of course, when we met Linda and the gang to watch the sun set over Catalina Island, at the Beach Comber, our favorite hidden restaurant-–Linda set us straight, “Jeff. They weren't hookers. This is O.C. (Orange County). Those are O.C. girls. That’s the look.”

Talk about being a country bumpkin.

Barbarella Babes. What could be better? We need to get out more often. I felt like it was the 1920’s and we assumed that if a woman wore lipstick or smoked she must be a woman of questionable morals—but I digress. Duh!

Our group boarded the bus at 8:30 for the trip to the Rose Bowl. How we wished the date were different.

Driver kept conning his way past cops and parking attendants until we got to the North West side of the Golf course, where Delapp had a tailgate in “lot” 6.
The heat was already doing us in. Would it affect the Bears?

We started on the 20 after the kick went out of the end zone. No comment. Still, my favorite author said boldly, “It will be 52-14.” Fans in the stands were unimpressed.

Best carried for three. Riley threw incomplete—then complete for a first. Vareen picked up 13. Riley completed a six yarder and Vereen ripped off a 42 yarder for the first score of the game.

It was to be like that most of the day (I was reminded of my favorite writer’s comment after the SC game):

“Someone has to say it. The Bears go 10 and 2 and we’re still angry.”

Both teams then traded series until UCLA was drving at the end of the first quarter. With a first at our 33, it looked like they might tie the game when Kevin Prince fumble while being sacked by Guytun. D.J. Holt picked it up and rambled 16 yards to the UCLA 43.

On first down Riley showed his stuff by tossing a 43 yard TD to Martin. Now that's how top 10 teams attack.

It seemed we were in control.

Alas, they still have that rule that after a score you have to kick off. Not good news for the Bears. UCLA returned it 50 yards for a first and 10 on our 39. In 4 plays UCLA brought it to 14-7.

Unwilling to play fair, after their TD, UCLA again kicked it out of the endzone, so we had to start on our own 20—once again.

We start a mini drive, but Anger finally gets off a 51 yarder and the quarter ends 14 to 7.

UCLA can’t do much better and punts. Vareen calls for a fair catch at the 6 (Is Thompson hurt?) Used to be the law that anything inside the 10 one let go, hoping for the touchback, and avoiding a fumble—-but Vareen hasn’t been returning so who’s to criticize.

He is the ultimate—complete football player. He can throw, run, field punts, block—he can do it all and did this game. He actually out statted Best 158 yards to 102 (they claim he lost 32 yards in the second half--we didn't see it).

The Bears put together an impressive march. Best lost three, then gained 22. He picked up 1 more—Vareen got six, then Riley picked up a first with a 17 yard scamper.
Then (from under center, as UCLA tried to stack up against the run), best went in motion and easily turned up field against a linebacker. Riley hit him perfectly in stride for a 51 yard TD.
Bears 21 to 7.

This time, we shut down the kick off return, only to give up a 74 yard touchdown on the first play afterwards, to keep them in it 21 to 14.

We are stalled, but Anger saved our backside us with a 72 yard punt (he averaged 50 for the day).

They pin us in with a punt at the 9. Best loses two. Then it happens. ESPN gets its highlight as Best makes one of the finest 92 yard runs you’ll ever see. The capper was that Riley raced down field (as Best was breaking tackles while moving laterally)and laid out the last defender who could have tackled Jahvid. Gotta love a QB like that.

They kicked a field goal and then we put together an 80 yard 7 play drive which was highlighted by a leaping acrobatic 24 yard catch by Marvin Jones in the End Zone. The half ended 35 to 17.

Best didn’t start the 2nd half and we were moaning and bitching, until we saw him emerge from the locker room. Apparently that run had emptied his tank and he was dehydrated.

Vareen was heroic in relief (as mentioned getting a career high) 158 yards on 18 carries.

It seemed UCLA always had the ball in the 2nd half and was always driving. Our D seemed porous, until it counted. 4 times they marched and 4 times they ended up kicking field goals. . Travecchio added one for us.

It was a classical “Bend don’t Break” D. As Ray Willsey used to say, “Football is played INSIDE the 20’s. The rest of the field is for the statisticians.” We gave ground, but held the line when it counted. Now that’s the mark of a good D.

Their QB, Kevin Prince, was outstanding. Sid’Quan was not playing (Bruised back or possible hip pointer?) and #15,Bryant Nnabuife played well enough to get all of our attention. “Who’s that?” Went the cry in the stands.

Still it was 38-26, when #26 Logan Paulson split the seems and was wide open for a touch. We stood up and screamed “Pick him up.” Prince tossed the sure TD. Did it stick in his fingers? The ball was short and Kendrick reached up and picked it up and returned it 68 yards for the back breaker. We were to learn later that Cal had only 10 men on the field for two plays in a row—hence the wide open tight end. But who’s counting?

On the two day bus ride back to the hotel (how do they live in that traffic down there?) the Goobs had the line of the weekend. Linda, referring to an odd hands to the face penalty called on Tyson Alualu, said, “What’s that funny penealty where they are called for using their hands like this?”

My wife, whom we all assumed was sound asleep in the front, uttered from closed eyes, “That would be fluffing the kicker.”

Suddenly we were back to the gals in the Bar.

Back to a Cal Fan’s Notes where my favorite author wrote after SC:

“So if you like Cal football, the rest of the season could be really thrilling. We’re looking at 5 and two easily and a possible 7 love run the rest of the way. What could be bad about that?”

He’s been wrong so many times before, but the first hurdle has been surmounted. With luck WSU Cougars (if we can’t beat team named after old gals who prey on young men in bars—is there a theme here--we’re in trouble), go down and then it’s five more games where we will never be more 7 point underdogs—-and could be favored in each--unless we pull the classic el foldo.

Don’t bet on it.

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70
www.jeffwarren.com