No. 7 Oregon Defeats Utah, 24-10, In 22nd Straight Home Victory
Sept 8, 2001
By WILLIAM McCALL
Associated Press Writer
EUGENE, Ore. - Joey Harrington is edging into the Oregon record booksearly in the season, but one of the most important numbers for the quarterbackon Saturday was a big, fat zero.
Harrington did not throw a single interception in No. 7 Oregon's 24-10victory over Utah, and he ended up completing 17 of 27 passes for 220 yards andtwo touchdowns.
The scoring passes, both to Keenan Howry, put Harrington in a tie with DanFouts for career touchdown passes at 37. But Harrington still has nine games toplay for the Ducks, who are campaigning hard for a Heisman Trophy for him.
The 6-foot-4 senior had criticized himself for throwing two interceptionslast week in a 31-28 comeback victory in the season opener against Wisconsin, ateam that intercepted him three times to beat the Ducks last year.
Against Utah, Harrington kept his air game under careful control, hittinghis targets precisely - including the 25- and 14-yard touchdown passes to Howry- both in heavy defensive traffic. He also connected nine times with JasonWillis for 107 yards.
'I think it was a good game,' Harrington said.
His counterpart, Utah quarterback Lance Rice, agreed.
'Joey is a great player and I think Oregon is a top 10 team,' Rice said.
The win was the 22nd straight victory at home for the Ducks, and gave coachMike Bellotti an 18-2 record in nonconference games.
The last time the Ducks lost a nonconference game at home was to Utah in1994, the last year Oregon went to the Rose Bowl.
Bellotti praised his Ducks for a solid win on Saturday, but he said Oregonneeds to step up the pace to live up to its ranking and talk of a nationaltitle.
'I don't know about a national championship,' Bellotti said. 'We have ourhands full from week to week. All we can do is win.'
The Ducks led nearly the entire game, except for a brief 10-10 tie in thesecond quarter.
Oregon (2-0) opened the scoring against Utah just 4:28 into the game with athree-play drive that took only 31 seconds. Harrington found Howry at thecorner of the end zone after throwing a 32-yard strike to Willis and a14-yarder to tight end George Wrightster on the 71-yard drive.
Jared Siegel kicked a 21-yard field goal for the Ducks and Maurice Morrisbumped and spun 3 yards for another Oregon touchdown in the second quarter. Butthe Ducks did not score again until the fourth quarter when Harrington hitHowry for the final touchdown.
Morris ran for 59 yards on 12 carries, while Onterrio Smith had 45 yards on11 carries - all in the second half due to a one-half suspension Bellottiimposed. No reason was given, but Smith had recently been cited for drivingunder the influence and reckless driving.
Ryan Kaneshiro opened the scoring for Utah (1-1) on a 21-yard field goalwith 3:22 to play in the first quarter. The kick capped a 61-yard, 13-playdrive that ate up 7:10 on the clock. The scoring was over for Utah when seniorrunning back Adam Tate, a 230-pounder, knocked several Oregon defenders out ofhis way on a 3-yard touchdown run with 9:14 to play in the first half.
Except for an interception in the fourth quarter, Rice moved the ball wellin the air for the Utes, working wide receivers Cliff Russell and Josh Lymanagainst Oregon cornerback Steve Smith in a short passing game that kept eatingup yards and the clock. Rice was 21-of-39 for 170 yards and the interception.
Russell had seven receptions for 100 yards, and Lyman finished with fivecatches for 73 yards. Dameon Hunter rushed for a career-high 104 yards for Utahwith 25 carries.
Utah had the ball the bulk of the game, in possession for 35:44 to 24:16 forthe Ducks, but the rushing and passing yardage was roughly equal for bothteams. Oregon rushed for 107 yards on 32 carries, and had 270 yards in the air,while Utah had 121 yards in 35 carries, and 251 yards passing.
Both teams also suffered from costly penalties, including an illegal blockthat stalled the first drive for Oregon and a false start that stalled thefirst drive for Utah.
The Utes also hurt themselves with two back-to-back penalties on the finalOregon scoring drive, taking a personal foul for piling on followed by passinterference to sink deep into their own territory.
The Utes never fumbled, and the Ducks lost the ball only once but recovered.
Oregon is off next week before opening Pac-10 play against Southern Cal.