While Pat Cashman's interception perked up the USC rooters—hundreds of whom, like UCLA's, had been in the stands since dawn to get good seats—it did not seem at the time to be all that important; it might hold down the score, maybe. Sure enough, after a wiggly, 42-yard punt return by UCLA's Mark Gustafson, the Bruins were quickly threatening again, with a first down on the 15.
But now a series of strange things happened that changed the game for the rest of the day. In three plays the Bruins got nowhere, and on the third one Beban got the first of the deadly blows in the ribs—this one courtesy of Pat Cashman—which would send him writhing toward the sideline. Andrusyshyn came in and missed a field goal from the 20. The kick was not one of those molested by Bill Hayhoe; Zenon simply side-winded it off to the left. And on USC's first play from its own 20, the game suddenly had another offensive team. Earl the Pearl McCullouch started it by streaking down the sideline off a daring reverse for 52 yards. McCullouch then caught a 13-yard pass. And now Simpson was warmed up. From 13 yards out, O.J. burst over guard for the touchdown—one that was especially vital, for it proved to the USC offense that it could move the ball.
Still, if UCLA was impressed it did not act it. The Bruins took the kickoff amid the most noise since D-day, and Beban promptly threw a 48-yard pass to Nuttall. It was first down on the Trojan 15 again. But, just like the time before, USC's defense got riled. Beban was smacked by everybody but Southern California President Norman Topping, one of nine losses he would suffer, and he had to retreat to the bench again. In came Andrusyshyn for the first of two field-goal tries that Bill Hayhoe would block.
As has been said so many times about Beban, he learns from mistakes. He could hardly wait for the second half to start to take advantage of Pat Cashman, who had intercepted him and who had buried his red USC headgear into Beban's lung. With only two minutes gone in the third quarter, Beban laid a perfect 47-yard pass into the hands of Halfback George Farmer for the tying touchdown.
"Cashman had been waiting for another of those flat passes, so we sent Farmer straight down, right past him," said Gary afterward. "It balanced out. Cashman's interception was really responsible for our second touchdown." Between this score and the one that put UCLA ahead early in the fourth quarter, Prothro's team blew another excellent opportunity. The combination of a poor punt by USC's Rikki Aldridge, who redeemed himself for this and all other misdeeds of a lifetime by ultimately kicking the game-winning conversion, and a Beban pass put UCLA on the Trojan 17. It was here that Hayhoe, a junior from Van Nuys who weighs 254 along with his 6'8", lumbered through to drop Beban for a whopping loss, and two plays later he blocked another field-goal attempt by the Ukrainian.
"Those things somehow weren't as discouraging then as they are now," said Beban later as he wandered around in the USC locker room, sipping a canned Coke, smiling and congratulating the Trojans. "We knew we would score again."
They did. Beban hit four passes in a brisk seven-play drive covering 65 yards, the last one going to Nuttall for 20 yards and the touchdown that made it 20-14 with only 11 minutes remaining. Andrusyshyn missed the point because Hayhoe had gotten a finger on it, and while it occurred to everybody in the Western world that this could be a pretty unfortunate point to miss, UCLA still looked like the better team. The Trojans had not seriously threatened. Junior Steve Sogge had given way to senior Toby Page at quarterback, and it was no Los Angeles secret that John McKay's wife Corky was a better passer than Page. Nor had O.J. really busted loose.
But now it was time for Simpson to get back in the Heisman derby, thanks to a thing called 23-Blast. UCLA's tough tacklers had been kindly helping O.J. back up on his feet all day, a fine sporting gesture with the subtle design of keeping Simpson from resting. And at last it was time for O.J. to knock them down. And out.
It was third down at his own 36 when Toby Page saw UCLA's linebacker move out, anticipating the play Page had called in the huddle. Page checked signals and called another play at the line. It was 23-Blast. As it unfolded, it looked like a five-yard gain. Guard Steve Lehmer and Tackle Mike Taylor cleared O.J. through the hole. Then Simpson veered out toward the left sideline. Oh, well, a 15-yard gain and a first down. But End Ron Drake screened off UCLA's halfback, and the safety sucked over, and, hey, what's this? O.J. angled back to the middle, to his right, and a great glob of daylight became visible. And then he was running like the 9.4 sprinter he is, despite that sore foot and that funny shoe, and there was not anybody down there for the rest of the 64 yards who was about to catch him.
Of the remarkable 1,415 yards Simpson gained this season, those 64 were the most impressive of all, for they came after two hours of the toughest punishment he had endured—and they stretched all the way to Pasadena and Number Onesville.