Off The Upright, Into The Loss Column

Overtime games usually come down to a play here or a play there. In the Ducks 17-14 overtime loss to the Stanford Cardinal, two such plays were blaring.

EUGENE, Ore.,- After a Zach Ertz 10 yard touchdown reception forced overtime, it was up to the Oregon (10-1, 7-1) offense to score points and put pressure on the Stanford (9-2, 7-1) defense who deferred possession.

The Oregon offense failed to gain any yardage, however, on three consecutive plays, bringing on place kicker Alejandro Maldonado for the go-ahead 42-yard field goal attempt. Having already missed a kick earlier in the game from the same distance, Maldonado had a chance for redemption.

Unfortunately his second kick hit the right upright and was no good.

"I love these situations, but obviously I didn't come through," he said following the loss.

Maldonado and senior Rob Beard have been battling for kicking duties all season, two weeks ago the underclassmen outperformed Beard in practice and was awarded the sole field goal kick responsibility.

Maldonado said he'd been "stroking the ball" during practice and was surprised it didn't carry over onto the field.

"I was playing really solid, that's why I won the job. The results weren't showing today," he said.

After the Ducks failed to score, Stanford gained possession needing only a single score to win. Junior safety Brian Jackson says the defense was aware of the situation and forcing a turnover was the only way a victory seemed likely.

The defense got their chance on second down, when quarterback Kevin Hogan scrambled and linebacker Kiko Alonso punched the ball free from Hogan's arms. Two Oregon defenders were nearest the ball, but senior linebacker Michael Clay was unable to corral it.

"I dove on it. I thought I had it in my hands it squirted out of my hands," said Clay, who had a career-high 20 tackles. "If we would've pounced on that fumble, it would've changed everything."

Two plays later Jordan Williamson hit a 37-yard field goal and Stanford left Autzen Stadium with an unthinkable victory.

In the most successful era of Oregon football, losses have been a rarity. Following the game, the team was quiet, Clay said, still trying to figure out what had just transpired.

"It's a surprise," sophomore corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu said. "Since I've been here, it's only been my third game losing. In my whole life it's my first time losing in overtime."

Despite the loss the Oregon defense played outstandingly, holding Stanford on fourth down conversions, forcing three turnovers and holding the Cardinal to just one score before the closing minutes of regulation.

"I think on our side of the ball we played very well," Jackson said. "Sometimes things just don't go your way."

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