Huff's Heroics Save Ducks In The Civil War

With their backs against the wall and just over a minute and a half to play, the No. 12 ranked Oregon Ducks were on the brink of cementing a disastrous November with a loss to rival Oregon State.

The Beavers (6-6,4-5), who hadn't beaten the Ducks since 2007 and were blown out at home by 42 points the previous week by unranked Washington, went ahead 35-30 on a 25-yard end around by receiver Victor Bolden, which was eerily reminiscent to the way James Rodgers knocked off the Ducks in double overtime in the '07 game.

The Ducks (10-2, 7-2) had to cover 83 yards and do something they haven't been accustomed too in recent years: win from behind. Enter, Josh Huff.

In his last game inside Autzen Stadium on Senior Day, Huff corralled the game-winning 12-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota with only 29 seconds left on the clock, sending 58,330 fans into delirium while ensuring the Ducks' sixth consecutive 10-win season with a 36-35 victory.

"All week I've been talking to Marcus about any time we're down, if we need a big play just look at me and I'm going to do what I can to get open and eventually get the ball in my hands and make it happen," Huff said.

It was an ending that couldn't have been written much better. Huff was maligned earlier this month for his comments about the Ducks not wanting to play in another Rose Bowl and again when ESPN cameras caught him in an emotional state during the final moments of the Ducks loss to Stanford.

On Saturday, he had nine catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter for Oregon to sneak out the victory. It was something Huff had dreamed about since he was drawing up plays in the backyard in his youth with his father and cousins.

"It finally came true," he said.

Huff's heroics became absolutely necessary for Oregon once Oregon State demonstrated it was not the same team that lost to Washington.

Quarterback Sean Mannion overcame an early interception and, with the help of a Beavers rushing attack that accumulated 231 yards against Oregon, helped the Beavers erase an early 14-0 lead for the Ducks. By halftime it was tied at 17, thanks to three Ducks turnovers, including two interceptions on back-to-back drives by Mariota.

It was then that cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu delivered a message to Huff.

"At halftime Ifo just told me 'it's going to come down to you,'" Huff said.

And he ended up being right.

The Beavers grabbed their first lead of the game on a Trevor Romaine field goal early in the third quarter. With the Ducks offense looking for a spark, Mariota found Huff over the middle for a 28-yard touchdown reception. When the Beavers responded in the fourth quarter on Tyler Anderson's four-yard touchdown catch, Huff came up with the go-ahead 12-yard catch and score on fourth down.

"It was a post route and I decided to cut it short because I saw Marcus in trouble, and he found me," Huff said. "I was able to make the play after the catch."

On the game-winning catch, Huff said his main thought was securing the ball. He also praised Daryle Hawkins for drawing the defense away from him on the route and allowing him to get open, something he had done for Hawkins on his 23-yard catch earlier in the drive.

"For him to return the favor and allow me to make the game-winning touchdown was big," Huff said.

The performance is likely to go down in Oregon lore in what was one of the most exciting Civil War games in history. For Huff, it was tough to put it all into words, but he did his best to describe his emotions.

"They're happy, I can tell you that," Huff said. "(It's) surreal. I didn't imagine my last game would come down like that."

The Ducks will now enjoy some time off before their bowl game. With a few weeks before bowl season the players will turn their attention back to their studies and their health in an effort to get ready for whichever team they play.

But, for now they'll enjoy the victory. And for Huff, he'll have a memory to last a lifetime.

"To leave out on the note I left out on is pretty amazing," Huff said.


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