No. 20 Ducks Fend Off Fresno State, 31-24
Sept. 9, 2006
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Kicker Paul Martinez scored on a 4-yard run on a fake field goal with 4:55 left and No. 20 Oregon avoided becoming Fresno State's latest upset victim by using big special teams plays to beat the Bulldogs 31-24 Saturday night.
After another narrow win against Fresno State, the Ducks (2-0) return home next week with a showdown against No. 15 Oklahoma.
They'll feel lucky to survive this one, which was a typically tight battle all night. With the score tied at 24 late in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs (1-1) appeared to stop the Ducks on third-and-goal from the 4.
Holder Brady Leaf then took the snap for the field goal and ran to his left, drawing two defenders before tossing the ball to Martinez on an option play. Martinez stumbled in from the 4 for the tiebreaking score.
Oregon's previous touchdown was also set up on a key play from a field goal after Fresno State tied it at 17 on Dwayne Wright's 1-yard run on the opening drive of the second half.
The Bulldogs appeared to seize the momentum when Bear Pascoe blocked Martinez's 36-yard field goal attempt. But instead of letting the ball roll dead and taking possession, a Fresno State player tried to recover the ball. The ball squirted loose and Matt Toeaina recovered at the 5 for the Ducks. Jeremiah Johnson ran it in on the next play to make it 24-17.
But Fresno State answered with a 74-yard drive to open the fourth quarter, started by a 40-yard run by Wright. Brandstater added a key 15-yard scramble on second-and-14 to set up his own 1-yard score that tied it at 24 with 10:57 remaining.
Johnson ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns and set up two scores with long punt returns as he starred in place of injured starter Jonathan Stewart.
Stewart, who sprained his right ankle after running for 168 yards last week against Stanford, made the most of his one carry against the Bulldogs by scoring on a 3-yard run in the first quarter.
Fresno State coach Pat Hill has never beaten Oregon in five tries, losing twice in overtime, by three points last year and by four points in 2002. He hoped that getting the Ducks at home for the first time would change the Bulldogs' luck but it didn't.
This marked the 28th game the Bulldogs have played against BCS conference teams in Hill's 10th season as coach, but it was just the fifth at home.
Dennis Dixon was 33-for-36 for 240 yards for the Ducks, adding a few key scrambles as well. Jaison Williams had six catches for 106 yards.
Dwayne Wright ran 29 times for 154 yards and a score for the Bulldogs.
Fresno State got the sellout crowd into a frenzy after just the first play from scrimmage when Ahijah Lane stripped the ball from receiver Jordan Kent and Dwayne Andrews recovered at the Oregon 45. That set up a 32-yard field goal from Clint Stitser that gave the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.
Johnson's 20-yard punt return set up his own 5-yard TD run late in the first quarter to make it 14-3 and his 27-yard punt return set up a 38-yard field goal by Martinez with 38 second left in the half to make it 17-10.
Brandstater struggled in the opening half, going 8-for-19 for 56 yards and an interception. Most of his completions were short balls, including a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Fairman early in the second quarter.
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