It almost happened again.
This bowl season has featured plenty of can't miss comebacks and the Valero Alamo Bowl was no exception as UCLA barely survived with a 40-35 win over Kansas State. The Bruins led 31-6 at halftime before a furious second-half rally by Bill Snyder's team put them within six points twice in the final five minutes. But UCLA, and running back Paul Perkins, found a way with a long touchdown run and an onside kick recovery in the game's final moments. Here's how it went down.
The game was over when: Perkins burst through the Wildcats' defense for a 67-yard touchdown run with 2:20 left in the game. It was a game-changing play to hold off a Kansas State comeback after UCLA had been outscored 22-3 in the second half. KSU tried to rally again with a late Tyler Lockett touchdown but Perkins recovered the ensuing onside kick.
How the game was won: The Bruins almost watched their chance at a 10-win season slip away before Perkins' long touchdown run. UCLA really buckled down to finish the game, however, after being completely dominated by the Wildcats in the second half prior to Perkins' gallop.
Gameball goes to: Perkins. He finished with 20 carries for 194 yards and two touchdowns to provide the perfect balance with Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley. Perkins averaged 9.7 yards per carry with six of his runs resulting in first downs. The sophomore capped it off by catching and securing K-State's onside kick attempt despite having multiple Wildcats in his face when the ball arrived.
He did all he could: You couldn’t have asked for much more from Lockett. He made big plays on punt returns, terrorized UCLA defensive backs with his route running and even made a tackle as the gunner on K-State’s punt coverage unit. The senior was exceptional in his final game with 13 receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns while finishing with 249 all-purpose yards.
Best play: UCLA linebacker Myles Jack showed why he’s one of the nation’s top players on this 41-yard interception return. Showing the hands of a receiver, not a linebacker, Jack cut in front of K-State receiver Kody Cook to pluck the ball and return it into Wildcats’ territory. You aren’t going to see many linebackers make a play like this:
What it means for UCLA: It’s a little bit of redemption for a UCLA squad that ended the regular season with a whimper in 31-10 loss to Stanford. The Bruins grabbed their 10th win and, although there will be plenty of time spent thinking about what could have been, they head into the offseason with a much better taste in their mouths.
What it means for Kansas State: The Wildcats could have laid down after one of their worst first half showings of the season but instead made a game of it in the final 30 minutes. Nonetheless a loss is a loss and K-State finishes the season with back-to-back defeats and three losses in its final five games.