Lights Out Lights On Ducks Win

A 23 minute power outage may have been just what the Oregon Ducks needed -- another break off the field. Oregon came back in the fourth quarter and beat Cal 21-17 in a game reminiscent of how the Ducks used to conduct business. Oregon trailed all the game until the last 47 seconds when Terrence Whitehead took a pitch on the option from Kellen Clemens and walked into the east end zone in front a the 29th consecutive sellout crowd of 57,511 win hungry fans at Autzen Stadium.

"It was a great call by Coach Ludwig," said sophomore quarterback Kellen Clemens. "We actually had the same play call a little earlier (a few plays before the touchdown) but I screwed it up."

Clemens can be excused for any miscue he had on the final drive because if there was ever a game that looked like a comeback engineered by a former Duck wearing No. 3 then this was it. The Ducks had struggled all game long to keep their offense consistent and when Cal scored early in fourth quarter to make the total 17-7 it looked like the power outage wasn't the only thing that was going to be out for the duration. Scoring two touchdowns in the final four minutes will have folks forgetting about losing to the Huskies last week.

The Bears had been able to effectively run and pass the ball all night long using the talents of Aaron Rodgers passing 15-of-27 for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Rodgers showing the tutoring of former Oregon offensive coordinator and current Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford. Rodgers picked away at the Ducks and to the credit of Oregon's defensive unit gave up no big explosion plays until Rodgers found running back Admichinobe Echemandu who took a screen pass and rambled 36 yards to Oregon's 3-yardline. The pass play would eventually lead to the Bears last score and seemed to be the final straw in Oregon's frustrating season. Echimandu was a thorn in the Ducks side all night with his powerful running style. He ended up with 65 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown. Even though he was relatively held down and under 100 yards of rushing, the 1,000-yard rusher demonstrated why he is so effective. Continually he found a way to make four yards out of nothing. Ironically, on the last offensive play of the game for the Bears, he suffered a sprained ankle.

Clemens started the game and on Oregon's first possession the Ducks moved the ball, but the Ducks could doing nothing more in 11 plays other than punt. Clemens was 1-of-5 in passing on Oregon's initial drive and missed a wide-open Demetrius Williams for a sure score. Oregon's offensive script called for Jason Fife to enter in the second quarter and he did. Even though the Ducks only had one possession in the first quarter. Cal was able to hold onto the ball for over 12 minutes of the first and finally pushed the ball into the end zone early in the second quarter. Fife entered the game and it seemed the Ducks found a new energy. Fife steered the Oregon offensive from their own 19-yardline and nine plays and 76 yards later the Ducks score and kicked an extra point to tie up the game at 7-7. Cal tacked on a field goal and the half ended with Cal leading 10-7.

Fife continued to be the quarterback through the third quarter and neither team could make any headway in the scoring department. Then with 14:40 showing on the clock the lights blinked and then went dark leaving the crowd wondering what was next. When play resumed after the 23-minute delay Fife had cooled considerably. Clemens then started warming up. Clemens came in and was able to drive the Ducks to a scoring drive with 4:19 left in the contest on a 31-yard pass to Tim Day. Cutting the score to 17-14, the Ducks needed the Oregon defense to come back on the field and get the back and they did by forcing the Bears to punt after three plays. The stage was set for some two-minute drill heroics and that's what happened. On the last scoring drive, Clemens hit Williams twice, once for 26 yards and once for nine yards. The Ducks were inside the Cal 5-yardline and scored with under a minute remaining. Clemens finished the night 9-of-18 for 117 yards, one touchdown and no interception. Fife was 8-of-16 for 107 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Williams had three catches 60 yards, while Samie Parker had six catches for 63 yards and one touchdown. Tim Day had four catches for 69 yards and one touchdown.

"Certainly Kellen Clemens came in and gave us a spark," said a relieved Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti.

The Bears had a final opportunity to make something happen with the ensuing kickoff. Rodgers managed to drive the ball to Oregon's 33-yardline and there he committed the only turnover of the game for either team when he threw the ball up and Oregon's Keith Lewis came down with an interception. Lewis is restricted from talking to media and when Kevin Mitchell was asked what he would say for Lewis regarding the game, Mitchell smiled broadly and said, "no comment." Mitchell did say that Lewis is a great player and that the Oregon defense was up the task of keeping the Ducks in the game.

Oregon needed this win badly. The game atmosphere was tense and it was as if the Duck fans were giving their team one last chance to prove themselves after four disastrous losses this season. Perhaps the lights going out in the fourth quarter was symbolic of a season that has had so many disappointments for a team that has looked for a spark somewhere to give them the energy and power to find success. The fans stayed with the team, and the Ducks played well and found some magic on a rainy night when the lights had seemed to go out on them for good. Maybe though the Ducks have discovered the spark they have sought all season long is, where it has always been -- within their own hearts

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