Although Kevin Craft realizes he was coach Rick Neuheisel’s third and last choice to take over UCLA’s offense, the senior quarterback’s tumultuous two-year history with his coach only made his part in the Bruins’ slump-stopping win over Washington that much sweeter.
Craft passed for 159 yards after taking over for injured Kevin Prince, and UCLA made a late defensive stand to snap its five-game losing streak with a 24-23 victory Saturday over the Huskies.
Rahim Moore intercepted Jake Locker’s deflected pass near the UCLA 20 in the final minute for the Bruins (4-5, 1-5 Pac-10), who ended a school record-tying seven-game conference skid despite losing Prince on a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the first half.
Craft was the Bruins’ starter last season, but he received countless on-field tongue-lashings from Neuheisel, who then gave his job last spring to Prince.
But after Prince’s injury while sliding to the turf, followed by backup Richard Brehaut’s fumble moments later, Neuheisel turned to Craft – and the 24-year-old with almost no recent practice snaps confidently led the Bruins’ comeback from a nine-point deficit, going 10 for 14 with a 29-yard TD pass to Terrence Austin.
The UCLA defense also shut out Locker and the Huskies (3-6, 2-4) in the final 26 minutes, although Locker moved the Huskies from their 11 to midfield on their final drive.
Oregon State 31, (23) California 14: At Berkeley, Calif., Sean Canfield threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score as the Beavers (6-3, 3-3) defeated the Golden Bears (6-3, 3-3), who lost star tailback Jahvid Best to a concussion after he took a scary fall.
(12) USC 14, Arizona State 9: At Tempe, Ariz., Will Harris returned an interception 55 yards for a score, Matt Barkley threw a 75-yard pass to Damian Williams for another score, and the Trojans (7-2, 4-2) held on for a shaky victory over the Sun Devils (4-5, 2-4).