Skip Hicks holds the UCLA school record for touchdowns in a season and in a career, but most people seem to only remember two of them.
Hicks was an All-American running back his senior season with the Bruins and went on to play five seasons in the NFL, but it seems Bruins fans only remember his performance in one game: UCLA’s improbable comeback victory over USC in 1996.
UCLA defeated USC, 48-41, in a classic game that stands as the only overtime game in the history of the rivalry. Hicks scored a touchdown with 39 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the score, then scored the game-winner in the second overtime, so even though he scored 55 touchdowns in his UCLA career, it’s no surprise those two are the most memorable.
“Hey, at least they remember me,” Hicks said.
It would be difficult for Bruins fans to forget.
The Bruins trailed, 17-0, after the first quarter and 24-7 at halftime. They still trailed by two touchdowns, 38-24, late in the game but quarterback Cade McNown rallied the team. A one-yard scoring run by Keith Brown narrowed the gap to 38-31 with 2:49 to play before a USC fumble gave the Bruins the ball back at their 38 with 1:30 to go.
After McNown worked some more magic, including a 23-yard completion to Rodney Lee who went diving out of bounds at the USC 11, Hicks took over.
He ran virtually untouched up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 38-38 with 39 seconds left. USC scrambled into field-goal range, but Travis Kirschke blocked a 39-yard attempt by Adam Abrams as time expired to send the game to overtime.
“We just had the mindset that we were not going to give up,” Hicks said. “You can’t ever give up, but especially when you are playing USC. Anything can happen at any time.”
The teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime before Hicks broke free for a 25-yard, game-winning touchdown on the first play of the second overtime — a run that exemplified the never-say-die attitude.
He took a handoff, started up the middle and ran into a pile with seemingly no place to go. Somehow, he squeaked through an opening that wasn’t there, broke a tackle in the open field, cut to the right and outraced USC defenders to the front right corner of the end zone.
“I have no idea how I got through that pile,” Hicks said.
The funny thing is, Hicks said, is that when he thinks about that game, his clutch touchdown runs don’t always come to mind first.
“I almost always think about that catch by Rodney Lee,” he said. “For some reason, that’s the play I remember most.”
That’s OK, Skip. Everyone else remembers those runs.