Ducks trample over Dawgs, 55-34
Wearing all-white helmets and uniforms for the first time, the Oregon Ducks looked a little like ghosts running around Husky Stadium on...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Wearing all-white helmets and uniforms for the first time, the Oregon Ducks looked a little like ghosts running around Husky Stadium on Saturday night.
And as far as the Washington defense was concerned, the Oregon running backs might as well have been phantoms.
"Half the time, I didn't know where the ball was," said Huskies linebacker E.J. Savannah.
Too often for the Huskies, it ended up in the end zone, as Oregon used a big finishing kick to survive a scare from the underdog Huskies and emerge with a 55-34 Pac-10 victory in front of 66,481.
Oregon used its sleight-of-hand, spread-option offense to pile up 661 yards, the third-most by a UW opponent, and 465 rushing, the second-most, against the Huskies, in outscoring Washington 24-3 in the fourth quarter to break a 31-31 tie. It was the second-most points ever scored against UW at home.
"It was disappointing to see them do that out here at Husky Stadium," said Huskies defensive tackle Jordan Reffett.
On several plays, the Ducks had everyone so bewildered that the Husky Stadium crowd roared, thinking the play was over, only to see the ball surface somewhere else.
"I've never seen a team run it that well," Savannah said.
Running it the best was Oregon junior Jonathan Stewart, a native of Lacey who had a happy homecoming with a career-high 251 yards on 32 carries. Backup running back Andre Crenshaw had 113 yards for Oregon and quarterback Dennis Dixon 99.
"I don't think there's a better offense in the country, right now," said Washington defensive coordinator Kent Baer.
The Ducks needed almost every yard, however, as the Huskies showed some grit in rallying from an early 14-0 deficit.
The Huskies got back in the game with explosive offense of their own, powered by the arm of Jake Locker. More than he has any game this season, the redshirt freshman threw deep, passing for a career-high 257 yards and tying a career-high with four touchdowns, including an 83-yarder to Anthony Russo. It was the longest passing play for UW since 2003.
Every time the Ducks looked poised to pull away in the first three quarters, Locker led a Huskies comeback, tying the score at 24 and 31 in the third quarter with TD passes of 43 yards to Louis Rankin and 38 to Marcel Reece, who caught two on the day.
Oregon scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to take a 41-31 lead, but the Huskies cut the lead to 41-34 with 5:58 left on a career-best 42-yard field goal by Ryan Perkins.
Willingham then elected to go for an onside kick. Oregon's Ra'Shon Harris recovered the ball at the 44. Oregon needed just three plays to drive for the clinching touchdown, a 13-yard run by Dixon with 4:52 left, then tacked on another score with 2:20 remaining.
Willingham said lack of faith in his defense wasn't what made him gamble. It was something the Huskies spotted as Oregon lined up on its kick returns, often leaving the front line 15 yards deep.
"We thought that was the best time we had all night [to try it]," he said. "We wanted to create something to give our team the best chance to win."
Instead, it was merely another loss for the Huskies, their fifth in a row, leaving them at 2-5 overall and 0-4 in Pac-10. Washington will need to go 5-1 the rest of the way to clinch a winning season and a bowl game.
"That's what we've got to do," said Willingham. "That's the goal."
It was also the fourth consecutive loss to the Ducks — tying the longest streak for Oregon in the 100-game history of the series — all coming by 20 points or more.
Since the Ducks went to the spread offense in 2005 they have gained 570, 454 and 661 yards against UW and averaged 44 points.
"I think we've got some issues," Willingham said of UW's defense. "Obviously, there were a lot of things that we didn't do and places that we didn't get to."
Seventh-ranked Oregon (6-1, 3-1) drove 61 and 80 yards the first two times it had the ball to take a 14-0 lead, with UW players and coaches saying it took some time to adjust to the pace of the Ducks' no-huddle offense.
"You just can't simulate that in practice," Baer said.
The Ducks had 334 yards at halftime, but the Huskies held Oregon to just seven points each in the second and third quarters.
"They wore us out in the fourth quarter, I think," Baer said. "But I think we're better than that. I really do."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Rushing past UW|
|Jonathan Stewart's 251 yards Saturday are the second most by an opponent at Husky Stadium:|
|322||Maurice Drew||at UCLA||2004|
|237||Thurman Thomas||Okla. St.||1985|
|222||Michael Bell||at Arizona||2003|
|* In Rose Bowl|
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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