In a turnover-prone first quarter in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game, the UCLA Bruins have been outclassed so far by Darron Thomas and the Oregon Ducks, who lead 21-7 after the first quarter. UCLA came into the road contest at Autzen Stadium as 31-point underdogs to Oregon, and looks every bit as much so far.
Oregon has gained 177 yards in the first quarter compared to just 50 for the Bruins. The Ducks ran for 115 yards on just 13 carries in the opening stanza. Each team has committed a pair of turnovers.
Junior linebacker Patrick Larimore played a big role in both turnovers forced by UCLA. He not only recovered a fumble, but also picked up his first career interception and returned it 34 yards for his first career touchdown, giving the Bruins their only points of the period.
After just their second play from scrimmage UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince fumbled the snap, which gave Oregon the ball at the UCLA 39-yard line. Four plays later the leading rusher in FBS, Oregon's LaMichael James run untouched 30 yards up the middle for an easy touchdown and a 7-0 lead. James leads the country with 12 runs of 30 or more yards this season.
The Bruins went three and out on their next possession and it looked like Oregon would score again, nearly as quickly as their first drive. But after quarterback Darron Thomas hit freshman running back D'Anthony Thomas for a 17-yard gain and a first down near midfield, the younger Thomas fumbled to give UCLA their best hope of the night thus far.
The Bruins gained 20 yards on seven plays, but when faced with a 4th-and-1 from the 23-yard line, tailback Derrick Coleman was stopped literally inches short of a first down, turning the ball over on downs. Luckily for UCLA though, they got a fortunate bounce three plays later. Thomas threw over the middle to Kenjon Barner, but the ball ricocheted off Barner into the waiting arms of Latimore, who took it to the house for the tying score.
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