Dec. 30, 2005
NU-UCLA Post-Game Notes
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EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Backed by two defensive touchdowns, Northwestern sprinted to a 22-0 first-quarter lead vs. 17th-ranked UCLA in the 72nd annual Vitalis Sun Bowl.
But the Bruins, who have recorded a number of comebacks this season, recovered from their 22-point deficit to beat the Wildcats, 50-38, on Friday in front of a sellout crowd at Sun Bowl Stadium.
Brandon Breazell returned two onside kicks for touchdowns and Drew Olson threw three TD passes, leading the Bruins to the win.
With star tailback Maurice Drew limited to punt returns after a first-half shoulder injury, Chris Markey finished with 150 yards rushing and Kahlil Bell added 136 yards. The Bruins (10-2) gave coach Karl Dorrell his first bowl victory in three tries.
The Wildcats (7-5) pulled within 36-31 with 2:29 to play when Brett Basanez threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mark Philmore, but Breazell -- a receiver lined up to make sure the Bruins kept the ball -- returned the ensuing onside kick 43 yards.
After Basanez added a 5-yard TD pass to Shaun Herbert with 23 seconds remaining, Breazell struck again by taking the next onside kick for a 41-yard score, punctuating the highest-scoring Sun Bowl ever.
It figured to be a wild afternoon, as both teams came in ranked among the national leaders in offense but among the nation's worst defenses.
Sure enough, the Wildcats set a Sun Bowl record with 584 total yards and the teams combined for another record with 1,037 yards.
Northwestern reached a bowl for a school-record third time under coach Randy Walker, but the Wildcats will need at least another year to win in the postseason for the first time since beating California in the 1949 Rose Bowl.
Olson had only three interceptions all season while tossing a school-record 31 touchdown passes, but he was picked off three times in the first quarter alone as the Wildcats built an early 22-0 lead.
Defensive end Kevin Mims got the first, snagging Olson's screen attempt and running 30 yards to the end zone. Then Bryan Heinz caught an overthrown pass, tipped by tight end Mercedes Lewis, setting up a 9-yard TD run on a reverse by Philmore.
Nick Roach put Northwestern ahead 22-0 by returning another interception 34 yards. In one quarter, Olson's three interceptions matched the Sun Bowl record set by Bud McClinton of Auburn in the 1968 game against Arizona.
But that was hardly the end.
Olson regrouped, guiding the Bruins to 29 unanswered points. He threw a 58-yard TD strike to Ryan Moya and Bell scored on runs of 5 and 6 yards. Then Olson added an 8-yard TD pass to Marcus Everett late in the first half as the Bruins took a 29-22 lead.
Drew missed much of the first half with an injured left shoulder, but Markey filled the void as UCLA established a ground attack. He opened one drive with runs of 24 and 51 yards, setting up Bell's 6-yard TD, and had 120 yards rushing by halftime.
Olson, meanwhile, started 2-of-8 for 15 yards with three interceptions. From there, he completed 8-of-16 passes for 127 yards with three TDs.
Basanez was 38-of-70 for 416 yards passing with two TDs and two interceptions for Northwestern, while freshman Tyrell Sutton, who averaged 126 yards rushing per game this season, had 84 yards.