Olson shines in UCLA’s 31-10 win over Utah

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los Angeles160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ Ben Olson threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns in his first college start, leading UCLA to a 31-10 victory over Utah in both teams’ opener Saturday. The 6-foot-5, 227-pound redhead hadn’t started a game since his senior year in high school nearly five years ago _ when he was the nation’s No. 1 recruit. He transferred from Brigham Young in January 2005, after redshirting his freshman year and spending two years on a Mormon church mission in Calgary, Alberta. Last season, Olson played sparingly as the backup to Drew Olson after missing the first three games with a broken left throwing hand. This Saturday was all his. Olson showed the poise of his 23 years, completing 25 of 33 passes for 318 yards and no interceptions in a game that began in 96-degree heat at the Rose Bowl. It was the most yardage by a debuting Bruins quarterback since Tommy Maddox had 253 against Michigan in 1990. Olson was perfect on his first seven passes, hitting seven different receivers, all for first downs. The Utes had won their last four games against Pac-10 opponents, but they didn’t mount a serious challenge in the second half. Utah was 0-for-11 on third down, and managed 285 yards of total offense to UCLA’s 418. Olson was clearly superior to Utah senior quarterback Brett Ratliff, who came in 2-0 as a starter after leading the Utes to season-ending victories over BYU and Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl. Ratliff was 13-of-31 for 162 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. UCLA extended its lead to 21-10 on Olson’s 19-yard pass to Matt Willis that completed a six-play, 72-yard drive in the third quarter. Justin Medlock kicked a 25-yard field goal that kept UCLA ahead 24-10 in the fourth quarter. Olson’s third touchdown made it 31-10 on a 9-yard pass to Marcus Everett. Olson had the announced crowd of 59,709 cheering early when he connected with Ryan Moya over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown pass on UCLA’s opening drive. The Bruins then stopped Utah on its 44-yard line before being penalized for too many players on the field, keeping the Utes’ drive alive. But Ratliff’s 30-yard pass to Marquis Wilson was called offsides and the Utes were forced to punt. Olson’s first incompletion occurred as Logan Paulsen ran into the end zone. A few plays later, a 46-yard field goal attempt by Medlock went wide left. The Utes tied the game at 7 on a 26-yard pass from Ratliff to Brent Casteel in the second quarter, giving their sizable section of red-clad fans reason to cheer. The drive’s big play came on fourth-and-1 at Utah’s 41-yard line, when defensive back Eric Weddle carried 5 yards for a first down. The Utes then notched consecutive first downs, leading to Ratliff’s scoring pass. The Utes pulled Ratliff on their next possession, replacing him with Oklahoma transfer Tommy Grady, whose second pass of the drive was picked off by Alterraun Verner _ UCLA’s first interception return for a touchdown by a freshman since 1989. Stepping in front of Casteel, Verner snagged the ball and ran 34 yards up UCLA’s sideline for a 14-7 lead. Verner had an 18-yard fumble recovery in the closing minutes, too. Louie Sakoda kicked a 44-yard field goal that left Utah trailing 14-10 at halftime.last_img read more