When this 69th Rose Bowl is relived and recounted, two plays will be remembered as contributing most to UCLA's 24-14 victory over Michigan today.
With seven minutes left in the second quarter and Michigan trailing by seven points, Wolverine starting quarterback Steve Smith was knocked from the game with a separated right shoulder by a tackle at the end of his eight-yard run.
In came seldom-used backup David Hall, and out went most of Michigan's offensive plans. "Dave Hall has never really played," Bo Schembechler, the Michigan coach, said. "You yank this kid off the bench and tell him, 'Go win the Rose Bowl.' It's hard to do."
The other key play was electrifying. It came with eight minutes to play. The Wolverines had just stopped UCLA's Kevin Nelson for no gain on fourth and goal from the one to get the ball back, trailing, 17-7.
On second and nine from his two-yard line, Hall dropped into the end zone, looking for all-America receiver Anthony Carter. Hall saw Carter, but not Blanchard Montgomery, the gambling inside linebacker.
Montgomery stepped in front of Carter at the 11, intercepted the pass and ran it in for the touchdown. That gave the No. 5-ranked Bruins a 24-7 lead. Even though 19th-ranked Michigan would score again, with 5:20 left, on a four-yard pass from Hall to Dan Rice, the game was out of reach.
"That was definitely the turning point of the game," said UCLA safety Don Rogers. "The quarterback didn't see Blanchard and he made the play of the game."
There were other good plays made by other good players. UCLA quarterback Tom Ramsey completed 18 of 25 passes for 162 yards. Michigan tailback Lawrence Ricks rushed 23 times for 96 yards. Hall, the backup quarterback, completed 13 of 24 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Rogers stopped a second-quarter Michigan drive by intercepting a pass from Smith inside the 15. UCLA's Mike Durden recovered a punt-return fumble by Carter, which led to a Bruin field goal just before halftime.
But as Terry Donahue said, moments after coaching his first Rose Bowl game, "There were three key points in this game: Our second touchdown drive. The loss of Steve Smith to Michigan and Blanchard Montgomery's interception."
Donahue felt his team's 80-yard drive in the third quarter deserved special mention because it followed a 45-yard drive by Michigan that cut UCLA's lead to 10-7. Michigan had run seven straight plays, then scored on a fourth and goal, one-yard pass from Hall to tight end Craig Dunaway.
Ramsey, who had completed his first seven passes but then cooled down, got comfortable again. Ramsey completed a third-down pass to Jojo Townsell to keep the drive alive at the Bruin 31 and several plays later ran 15 yards to the Michigan 37. Four plays later, tailback Danny Andrews took it in from the nine, boosting UCLA's margin to 17-7 with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.
"That," said Donahue, "was the drive of the game."
But Donahue didn't want to downplay how drastically the game changed when Michigan's Smith went out.
"It's very difficult to weigh the loss of Smith, to their offense and to Anthony Carter," Donahue said. "It would be like us trying to play without Tom Ramsey. The second-string quarterback is not the option-type quarterback. And when a Michigan team doesn't have that threat, it's easier to defend against, quite frankly."
Schembechler, who lost his sixth Rose Bowl in seven tries, didn't want to blame the loss on the injury to Smith. But he, too, knew the significance.
"Losing him took away a lot of our offense," Schembechler said. "We were planning to roll Smith, bootleg him, option him. Smith runs that team. Nobody else has run it for two years. Hall gets about 25 to 33 percent of the practice time. When Steve went out, we were out of the option and the bootleg, out of all the roll stuff."
Michigan's running game also was off form. The Wolverines average about 240 yards per game rushing, but ran for only 142 today. Part of that was because strong tackle Rich Stenger, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound senior who opens large holes for Ricks and the other Wolverine backs, left the game with a knee injury on the second play of the game.
The other part was because UCLA's defense was very, very good. Cornerback Lupe Sanchez, Montgomery and Rogers played the run well.
"Our defense deserves a standing ovation," said Montgomery.
"Our defense has been pretty much underrated most of the year," said Rogers, coplayer of the game with Ramsey.
Montgomery said he had "dropped back six or eight yards" on the play that would produce his interception-touchdown. "When (Hall) threw it, I was wondering whether or not I could jump high enough to catch it. The next thing I knew, I was running into the end zone."
Schembechler talked about his team's turnovers. The Wolverines had three interceptions and one fumble. "We had four turnovers and didn't get any from UCLA," he said.
So, while Big Ten champion Michigan went back to the Midwest, pondering yet another Rose Bowl defeat, Pac-10 champion UCLA celebrated its first Rose Bowl victory since 1976, on its home field.
"This is the pinnacle of college success," said Donahue, even though his team will not end ranked No. 1 or 2 in the final polls, which will be released Sunday.
UCLA's victory also served another purpose. Michigan defeated UCLA New Year's Eve, 1981, in the Bluebonnet Bowl. UCLA defeated Michigan, for the first time ever, Sept. 25 in Ann Arbor.
"I'm just happy," said Rogers, "that we broke the tie." [TABLE OMITTED]