Cougars spoil Bruins’ perfect conference record with 27-7 win

PULLMAN — Dwight Tardy felt a measure of vindication on Saturday.

Tardy, a redshirt sophomore, grew up in Southern California and attended every UCLA home game his senior year at St. Paul High in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Although he wanted to go to UCLA and the Bruins showed some interest in him, they went elsewhere with a scholarship offer, Tardy said.

Tardy had the Bruins’ full attention after he rushed for a career-best 214 yards and two touchdowns as Washington State upset UCLA 27-7, spoiling the Bruins’ bid to stay undefeated in the Pacific-10 Conference.

“I wanted to go there,” Tardy said of UCLA. “I wanted to stay home.”

The snub gave him motivation when the Bruins visited Pullman, his new home. “It was kind of like I got passed up by my own people,” he said.

Against the third-best rush defense in the conference, Tardy broke free for a 51-yard scoring run in the closing seconds to cap his first 100-yard game against a league opponent this season. The effort bettered his 145-yard performance against Oregon last year.

WSU’s offense has lacked a consistent running game this season, so Tardy said he wasn’t sure going into the game how much he would be used. He finished with 37 carries, averaging 5.8 yards per run.

“I was loving every minute of it; `keep feeding me,”’ he said. “We just pushed them off the ball. Our line was the most prepared.”

Washington State (3-5, 1-4) used a bye week after a humiliating 53-7 loss at Oregon on Oct. 13 to figure out how to defend against UCLA (5-3, 4-1), which suffered its first conference loss. The Cougars had 545 yards of total offense, limiting UCLA to 267.

WSU coach Bill Doba said UCLA’s defensive scheme allowed Tardy to break off long runs.

“Their linebackers enabled us to run and when they thought we were going to run, we didn’t,” Doba said. “The defense got a few three-and-outs and that feeds off each other.”

Alex Brink was 28-of-46 for 271 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Brink had no explanation for the Cougars’ success at home against the Bruins.

“Maybe it’s the time of year,” he said. “Since I’ve been here, we have been able to run against them.”

WSU’s defense badgered UCLA quarterback Patrick Cowan, who keyed the Bruins’ victory over California last week. Cowan was sacked twice.

Cowan completed 17 of 36 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown.

UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said the Bruins offense lacked continuity to keep the overworked defense off the field.

“It’s unfortunate we didn’t play the caliber of game that we should have been playing,” he said. “I know a lot of that was losing a couple of key players on our offense.”

The Bruins took the opening kickoff 62 yards on three plays, capped by Kahlil Bell’s 50-yard scoring run just over a minute into the game. Bell picked his way through tacklers along the right sideline, then cut left to the middle to score untouched.

Bell, who gained 142 yards on 22 carries in the Bruins’ upset of California last week, was injured early in the game, finishing with four carries for 67 yards. UCLA officials said Bell suffered a right knee sprain.

WSU answered on its first possession, marching 51 yards on 10 plays. Tardy scored from a yard out to tie it 7-7.

After WSU’s Devin Giles recovered a fumble by Bell’s replacement, Chris Markey, on the UCLA 25, Romeen Abdollmohammadi provided the go-ahead 41-yard field goal to make it 10-7.

Abdollmohammadi kicked a 24-yard field goal in the third quarter to put WSU up 13-7.

Brink hit Brandon Gibson with a 5-yard scoring pass to put the game away, 20-7, midway through the final quarter.

UCLA missed an opportunity to tie it late in the second quarter when Kai Forbath missed 43-yard field goal attempt.

Abdollmohammadi missed a 50-yard try just before the half. An 18-yard attempt at the end of the third quarter was blocked by the Bruins after the Cougars failed to score in three tries from the UCLA 1.

It was the Cougars’ second consecutive defeat of the Bruins. WSU won 37-15 in the Rose Bowl.

The Bruins have been criticized for losses against lightly regarded teams this season and came into this one assuring fans they would be prepared.

It was the Cougars’ first win against the Bruins in Pullman since a 31-13 victory in 2003.

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