Ducks Lose Thriller on Last Second FG

Glendale – The game came down to inches near the goal line. For Oregon, it was a 4th and goal at the Auburn goal but a great stop by the Auburn defensive front line kept the Ducks from scoring. Late in the game, Oregon's defense kept Auburn out of the endzone, but the Tigers were able to kick a winning field goal as time ran out to crown Auburn, king of college football with a 22-19 win.

(PHOTO) Oregon's Darron Thomas looks to pass during the first half of the BCS National Championship NCAA college football game against Auburn, Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

"I'm just really proud of my players," said Oregon's Chip Kelly of his team. "I love these guys. They've competed. They've done everything we've ever asked them to do. It is a special group of young men."

The game was a nail bitter right down to the last second. Auburn's Cameron Newton threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Michael Dyer was a huge thorn in Oregon's side as he rushed for 143 yards on 22 carries. Oregon's Darron Thomas nearly pulled off the win as he threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns. Jeffery Maehl finished his college career by pulling in nine passes for 133 yards, a touchdown and an extra point conversion. LaMichael James was kept in check as he rushed for 49 net yards.

Defensively, the Ducks were led by John Boyett's 11 tackles. Senior Kenny Rowe had four tackles for loss including a sack. Cliff Harris had an interception plus another interception that was overruled by review. Auburn's Mike McNeil led the Tigers in tackling, with 14 tackles.

Oregon scored first on a 10-play, 62 drive that culminated with a 26-yard field goal by Rob Beard. Auburn answered the Duck score with an eight play, 82 yard drive that lasted 2:13. Cam Newton hit Kodi Burns on a 35-yard strike for a touchdown and with the point after conversion Auburn was 7-3.

The Ducks came roaring back in four plays to score. Darron Thomas hit Jeff Maehl on an 81-yard strike that put the ball on the Auburn 12. Two plays later Thomas hit LaMichael James for an 8-yard TD pass play. The Ducks then faked the point after kick as holder Jackson Rice pulled the ball and ran left only to lateral on the option to kicker Rob Beard, who plunged into the endzone for 2-points and giving Oregon the lead at 11-7.

Auburn looked stopped on a 16-play, 68 yard drive when Newton threw an incompletion and Oregon took over the ball at its own 1. However, James was stopped in the endzone for a safety cutting the Duck lead to 11-9. Auburn would take the halftime lead of 16-11 with a six play, 66 yard drive when Newton recorded his second TD pass of the day on a 30-yard completion for score to Emory Blake. The PAT was good and the scoring for the first half was completed.

Scoring in the third quarter was sparse for both teams as the only numbers recorded was a 28-yard field goal by Auburn's Wes Byrum. For most of the 4th quarter it looked as if Auburn, holding onto a 19-11 lead would be able to run the clock out and win the game, but after a big hit by John Boyett, Newton appeared to be favoring his throwing shoulder. With only 4:50 left in the game, Casey Matthews stripped the ball from Newton and Cliff Harris recovered the loose ball.

Oregon moved the ball down field in one of the most exciting drives of the year. Thomas threw the ball six times, completing four including a 4-yard TD pass to James finishing off the 55-yard drive. The Ducks needed to go for two and Thomas hit Maehl in the back of the endzone to tie the game at 19 with 2:36 left in the game.

"I think our team thrives off each other," Kelly said of the drive. "It was five minutes to go in the game, and I thought our defense was doing a good job at least containing them. We were hoping they were going to come up with a big play. You watch how excited our offense is thriving off of what our defense did. Darron made a couple plays on that drive. LaMichael made a couple plays on that drive and Jeff comes up with a big catch for the two-point play. That's how this team works. They care so much about each other and they love each other is that they feed off each other."

On the ensuing drive, the Duck defense seemed to have Auburn's Michael Dyer stopped for little or no gain at the Auburn 40. However, the whistle did not blow and when Dyer rolled over the top of Oregon's Eddie Pleasant but was not down. Everyone in the stadium including the public address announcer thought the ball was dead. Dyer admitted after the game that he wasn't sure and that's why he hesitated as if the play was dead.

"At the time I wasn't really sure," Dyer said about the tackle. "All I knew was the whistle wasn't blowing and my coach and I continued to get more yards and keep the play going and keep the ball in the offense's hands."

Dyer gained 37 yards to the Oregon 23 with just over two minutes to play but he wasn't done doing damage to the Ducks' defense. With just 16 seconds left to go in the game, he ran 16 yards and again ran into Pleasant for what appeared to be another case of rolling over on top of the defender without touching his knee to the ground and into the endzone for a touchdown. This time however the play was ruled stopped at the 1-yard line after review. Newton tried once to bull his way across the goal line but lost a yard. Auburn called timeout and brought in Byrun, who kicked a point-blank field goal to win the game as the clock expired.

Oregon missed two great chances to score touchdowns. In the first half, Thomas was intercepted by Auburn's Zac Etheridge at the Auburn 14 stopping a 33-yard drive.

In the third quarter, the Ducks launched a 72-yard drive, but were unable to finish for a score but when Kenjon Barner was stopped at the goal line on a fourth and 1, the best opportunity of the night for a score was gone.

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