Civil War Victory Gives No. 4 Oregon Pac-10 Title Outright
Dec 1, 2001
By LANDON HALL
AP Sports Writer
EUGENE, Ore. - The Pac-10 championship, a fleeting chance at thenational title, and a victory over their biggest rival.
All of it was in doubt for the Oregon Ducks, until the ball dropped intoKeenan Howry's hands.
Howry returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter,and Maurice Morris added an 8-yard scoring run with 4:36 left as No. 4 Oregonkept its slim Rose Bowl hopes alive with a rainswept 17-14 victory over OregonState on Saturday in the 105th Civil War.
'Everybody on the team knew it would take one big play,' Howry said.'Luckily for me, it came on a punt return.'
Oregon (10-1, 7-1 Pac-10) already had secured a spot in the Fiesta Bowl, butthe victory gave the Ducks their first outright conference title since 1994.They're also still clinging to hope of rising from No. 5 in the BCS standingsto the top two and playing in the Rose Bowl.
'We've done about all that we can do,' coach Mike Bellotti said. 'I thinkwe can play with anyone in the nation. But we could have done it differently,we could have gone 11-0, and it wouldn't be in other people's hands.'
Oregon's only loss was at home to Stanford, 49-42, when the Ducks blew a14-point fourth-quarter lead.
The Ducks were beaten up at the line of scrimmage nearly the entire gameSaturday, and the team's powerful offense generated just 143 yards in the firstthree quarters.
Oregon State (5-6, 3-5) managed just two field goals, however, and led 6-3when punter Carl Tobey drove a low, line-drive kick to Howry. After a blockernearly hit a would-be tackler in the back, Howry ran untouched up the middlefor the score with 14:36 to play.
'When you kick it that low and you don't have your outside guys down thereto make him go sideways, you've got problems,' Oregon State coach DennisErickson said.
A steady rain quickly turned into a full-blown squall, and Oregon State hadto punt again. Oregon then marched 80 yards for the clinching touchdown and a17-6 lead.
Joey Harrington, now 24-3 as Oregon's starting quarterback, didn't help hisHeisman bid much, completing 11 of 22 passes for only 104 yards. But his28-yard strike to a diving Howry on third-and-10 was the key play of the Ducks'final scoring drive.
Oregon converted two more third-down plays, and Morris carried for 52 of his102 yards on the drive. On first-and-goal from the 8, Morris bulled into theend zone, carrying two defenders the last three yards.
'He had a look in his eye,' Harrington said. 'He wanted that touchdown.We knew if we could put that score on the board, we could really distanceourselves.'
As with most games in this series, it wasn't that easy.
|VIDEO: Oregon's Rashad Bauman lays a hit on Ken Simonton that knocks Simonton's helmet off.|
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The Beavers, who had won two of the previous three meetings, responded witha flurry and put themselves in position to win. First they drove 69 yards in 11plays, capped by Jonathan Smith's 24-yard pass to Josh Hawkins with 2:05 left.Smith threw to Shawn Kintner for a 2-point score to draw Oregon State withinthree, but an onside kick skipped out of bounds, and the Ducks took over.
Then Harrington, whose five interceptions and one fumble led to the Beavers'23-13 victory in Corvallis last year, lost the ball after being hit bydefensive end Kyle Rosselle with 1:38 left. Jake Cookus recovered at the Oregon33.
Oregon State lost seven yards on the next two plays before Smith's sidelinepass was intercepted by Rashad Bauman with just under a minute left. Baumanreturned the ball 39 yards, and Harrington took a knee to run out the clock.
By then, the rain had stopped, and winds that were gusting up to 30 mph hadslowed.
'This one was in our hands, and it got taken right out,' said Beaverslinebacker Richard Seigler.
Smith, Oregon State's career leader in passing yardage and touchdowns, was20-for-38 for 252 yards in his last game. Ken Simonton ran for 84 yards,stopped short in his bid to become the fifth player in NCAA history to rush for1,000 yards four times. He finished with 971.
The Beavers, who went 11-1 last year and pounded Notre Dame in the FiestaBowl, started 1-3 but had won three of their last four to get within strikingdistance of a third straight bowl game.
Erickson fell to 1-2 in Civil Wars against Bellotti, however. This isErickson's second losing season in 16 as a college head coach.
'It's a disappointing season for us,' Erickson said. 'We had goals thatwere a lot higher than 5-6.'
The Ducks improved to 53-42-10 in the series, which began in 1894.
Even with the twin attack of Morris and Onterrio Smith, Oregon had troublerunning the ball in the first half, and faced several third-and-longsituations.
The Ducks found some breathing room late in the first quarter, but onlymanaged three points. Howry started the drive with a 27-yard punt return, andMorris ran around the left end for a 35-yard gain.
On third-and-4 from the Beavers' 21, Harrington was sacked, and Jared Siegelkicked a 44-yard field goal.
Smith went over the 1,000-yard mark with 30 yards, giving him 1,007. Morrishas 960 yards, giving Oregon a chance at two 1,000-yard rushers for the firsttime in school history.