Finding the Love

Oregon defeated Oregon State in the 107th Civil War played at Autzen Stadium, 34-20 and the ingredient that had been missing earlier in the year may have been found by the Ducks. The game played before 58,102 was the crowing achievement of a saved season and perhaps the best played game for the Ducks all season. Despite the great efforts on the field, what may have really been the difference in the Ducks' win was the love shown to the team by their coach.

Kellen Clemens clearly established himself as the team leader with his ability to make players around him better and to make plays when he needed to do so. The redshirt sophomore was 11-for-25 for 125 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also added a special dimension with his scrambling and running ability. Clemens rushed for 78 total yards and ended the day with 64 net yards and one touchdown. Several times throughout the afternoon, Clemens escaped would-be Beaver tacklers to keep drives going and completely frustrate the Beavers and their No. 1 rated defense in the Pac-10.

"He threw a couple of passes that were great individual efforts and on some his scrambles, he showed his great athletic ability and great agility," cited Bellotti of Clemens' efforts. "He really became the captain of the ship, and kept this team rolling."

The Ducks had a shaky start to the game. After receiving the opening kickoff Oregon's offense did not appear ready or a match for OSU. The Ducks managed to lose ground in the initial series and when they gave the ball to the Beavers on a punt, things started looking a little grim. Oregon State's first scoring drive came off pinpoint passing by Derek Anderson and hard running by Stephen Jackson, exactly what Oregon did not want to happen. Jackson scored on a 3-yard run and it appeared that the Beavers were picking up where they left off against Stanford. That is until Oregon possession following the kickoff. Using a combination of running, passing and good decision making on the part of Kellen Clemens, the Ducks moved 66 yards in 11 plays to tie up the score based on a 15-yard screen pass to Terrence Whitehead. The Beavers got the ball back and started their engine back up. After the Beavers moved to the Oregon 35, their drive stalled and what should have been an easy field goal was muffed on a juggled snap by OSU's holder Carl Tobey. Tobey tried to make something good out of something going very badly and was ran out of bounds into the Oregon side of the field. A personal foul was called on the Ducks though it was a dead ball foul, enforced when the Ducks took possession. The call foretold what would happen on Oregon's drive, penalty flags a plenty but not on Oregon. The Beaver defense was called three times for a total of 40 yards. Demetrius Williams grabbed a Clemens pass and dashed to the end zone for a 19-yard play. The drive lasted six plays and drove 64 yards. Down 14-7, the Beavers could only muster a field goal in what was left of the first half.

The Duck defense seemed to arrive just in time to make life hectic for Oregon State's quarterback Derek Anderson. Anderson was sacked six times by the Oregon defenders, three times by Oregon's big No. 53, Igor Olshansky and three by defensive end Devon Long. Anderson finished the day 21-for-45, one touchdown and two interceptions. Olshansky ended up with nine tackles and a total of 35 yards for loss. Long had a total of four tackles and 15 yards for loss. Anderson had been the No. 1 ranked quarterback in the Pac-10 prior to the game, but he certainly was not the only weapon the Ducks were concerned with. Running back Stephen Jackson is already over the 1,000-yard mark for rushing this season, but against the Ducks he was held to 68 yards on 18 carries. Two of his carries accounted for 45 yards. The Ducks accomplished one of their major objectives of holding Jackson down and neutralizing his presence. A third weapon in the OSU arsenal is receiver James Newson, the No. 1 receiver in the Pac-10. Newson had five catches for 86 yards and no touchdowns. The Ducks had hit the trifecta in stopping the Beavers. The Ducks put constant pressure on Anderson, making a long day for the Beavers and their fans. Senior Steven Moore finished his career in Autzen off with two interceptions of Anderson passes late in the game to ice the victory for Oregon.

"The pressure (on Anderson) was due to the fact that we didn't run the ball well," said OSU's headman Mike Riley. "This was a big difference in the game."

Oregon enjoyed good field position most of the day and a principal reason was that was the emergence of Kenny Washington as a return specialist. For the second week in a row, Washington's return game was a major impact on the game's outcome. Washington returned two kickoffs for a total of 67 yards with the longest of 48 yards. OSU used squid and pooch kicks to keep the Oregon special teams off balance, but Washington, last week's Pac-10 Player of the Week for Special Teams was ready.

"We knew what to expect after the first (a squib kick) kickoff," said Washington.

Another surprise was the Ducks running game against a defensive team that had openly solicited Duck fans to become Beaver fans. Oregon rushed for 218 net yards. Terrence Whitehead led the way with 77 yards on 24 carries. Whitehead also had a pass reception for a touchdown. Washington had 61 yards on seven carries. Overall the Ducks had 343 yards of offense.

"We didn't have tremendous yardage," said Bellotti. "But we took advantage of good field position, executed well and put some good drives together."

The win assures the Ducks of at least a tie for third place in the Pac-10 race with their 8-4 season record and 5-3 record in the Pac-10 race. Oregon State still must face USC on December 6th. A win in Los Angeles for the Beavers would tie them with Oregon as their record now stands 7-4 for the season and 4-3 in the Pac-10,

"We will recover," commented Riley. "We have a great opportunity coming up."

Bellotti has said that the wins in November are the ones you'll remember. For a season that has been an emotional roller coaster ride, his words have been prophetic. Many thought the win over Michigan this season was the high-mark for the team because of the embarrassing losses to Washington State, Arizona State and Washington. Bellotti was most disappointed in the loss to Arizona State as he felt his team did not give its full effort. Though losing to Washington in Seattle was disappointing, he thought his team played hard. During Oregon's bye week, Bellotti traveled to Detroit to watch the Lions and former Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington play. It is no secret that the Lions are struggling this season, but Bellotti left the Motor City reminded of something very important in coaching and all relationships for that matter. Bellotti indicated that the Lions' players like his own need the support of their coaches.

"Players want unconditional love from their coaches," reflected Bellotti.

Oregon has a three-game win streak to end its regular season and Bellotti has mentioned he has taken the high-road in his approach to his player by giving them positive reinforcement -- giving them unconditional love and in return the players have found success. While this season may not be the one that will record the most wins, it may have been the season Mike Bellotti will look back on and reflect on the importance of his relationship to his team. Leaving on a winning note is positive but the true value of the lesson was learned a few weeks before the ball was ever kicked off on Saturday afternoon.

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