Despite Tragedy, UCLA Triumphs

9/16/13 in NCAAF   |   BlakeLovell   |   86 respect

Sep 14, 2013; Lincoln, NE, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY SportsUntil around a minute left in the second quarter on Saturday, it looked like the UCLA Bruins had something else on their mind other than its game against Nebraska.

And rightfully so.

Earlier in the week, tragedy fell upon the program, after walk-on wide receiver Nick Pasquale was killed after being struck by a car.

The entire week leading up to Saturday was an emotional one for everyone within the UCLA community, and we had no idea how the players would perform once they came out of the tunnel and hit the field.

Could we really expect this team to be at its best given everything that it had been through? No one would scold them for losing to a ranked Nebraska team on the road.

However, the Bruins found a little magic with a Paul Perkins 10-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds left in the first half. Little did we know that the magic was just beginning. UCLA reeled off 38 unanswered points to win going away, and in the process, pull off one of the more incredible feats in recent memory.

Focusing on a football game after such an unfortunate event is no easy task. Losing a teammate is tough in any sport at any level, but remember that these are 18-22 year old kids. Most had probably never experienced an emotional roller coaster like the one they went through leading up to the game.

But somehow, they managed to come together and win one for their teammate. For their friend. For their brother. 

As quarterback Brett Hundley said after the game, it was a game that was bigger than just them. They were playing for more than just the name on the back of the jersey.

The passion that head coach Jim Mora Jr. had this team playing with was extraordinary. A coach never wants to have the task of rallying his players after the unfortunate passing of a teammate. Mora helped create a special moment that none of his players will ever forget. 

It's also important to recognize the role that Nebraska played in all of this. The Nebraska student section released blue and gold balloons to honor Pasquale. They cheered when the Bruins came out of the tunnel. They put the #36 decals on their helmets. It was first-class all the way.

You may not be a fan of the Huskers, but after that, you have no choice but to respect them.

Sometimes, we spend so much time debating about all the wrongs in the college football world these days, and how we wish things were this way or that way.

But, there's no debating how right things were for around four hours on Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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