Cardinal snaps Ducks win streak.

Exploiting great field position created from two blocked punts, a pooch kick recovery and an interception, Stanford scored 21 unanswered points and beat Oregon at Autzen Stadium 49-42 in front of 46,021 fans on Saturday afternoon. The win snapped Oregon's nation leading 23-game home win streak. The loss also knocked the Ducks out of any serious hope for contending for the National Championship, slipping the Ducks to a 6-1 record for year. The Ducks are now 3-1 in Pac-10 play.

"I don't think it was what they did as much as what we didn't do," said Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti after the game.

Heading into the final quarter of the contest Oregon was holding a 14-point lead fueled in part by two terrific special teams play by Oregon. Keenan Howry returned a 69-yard punt for a touchdown in the third quarter, and that was followed later in the quarter when Onterrio Smith returned a kick off 96-yards for another touchdown. After that a series of blunders by Oregon's special teams allowed Stanford very good field position. On the fifth play of the fourth quarter, Oregon punter Jose Arroyo had his punt attempt blocked and Stanford found themselves on Oregon's 18-yard line. However, Stanford was unable to score from there and when they turned the ball over to Oregon on downs, Duck fans breathed a sigh of relief. That proved to be short lived as the Cardinal blocked Arroyo for a second time when the Ducks were unable to move the ball past their own 35-yard line. This time Stanford starting at the Oregon 19-yard line converted the turnover into a touchdown. With the lead cut the 42-35 favoring Oregon, Stanford Head Coach Tyron Willingham went to his bag of tricks and caught the Ducks special teams napping on the ensuing kickoff. The Cardinal kicker Mike Biselli pooch kicked the ball and Stanford's Colin Branch recovered the live kick on Oregon's 40-yard line. Six plays later Stanford scored and cut Oregon's lead to 42-41, but the Ducks felt a surge of momentum shifting their way when the extra point attempt by Biselli was blocked. The new found momentum for Oregon soon evaporated when Oregon's Joey Harrington was hit while releasing the ball on a pass, the wobbly football was plucked out the air by Stanford's Marcus Hoover at the Oregon 33-yard line. Oregon was then playing the clock realizing Biselli was well within his field goal distance and there was only 3:55 left to play in the game. Stanford played intelligently burning up the clock and when Kerry Carter bulled into the end zone with 1:15 to play things began looking much grimmer for the Ducks. Cardinal wide receiver Teyo Johnson out jumped Oregon's Rashad Bauman for the 2-point conversion and the Ducks trailed by seven, 49-42. With all Oregon time outs used up, Harrington was unable to pull out another victory, though with four ticks on the clock he did heave the ball into the end zone and it was batted away.

"Never have had two blocked (punts) in a game. Never had two blocked in succession," said Bellotti. "We just didn't get it done."

The loss over shadowed a great individual performance by Keenan Howry who had 338-yards of all-purpose yards. Howry not only scored on the 69-yard touchdown, he also had one return of 81-yards. Howry also scored two touchdowns on pass receptions with the longest being a diving 48-yard pass from Harrington into the end zone.

Harrington's campaign for the Heisman Trophy may have been stopped against Stanford. Harrington was 22 for 41 with 270 yards, three touchdowns but also had two interceptions. While Harrington was on fire in the first half of the game, his contribution in the second half was much different as Harrington was picked off twice and for the rest of the possessions Oregon was either forced to punt or ran out of downs.

The Ducks must now find a way to regroup, as they must take on Washington State next week in Pullman. Washington State the surprise of the Pac-10 this season now are the leaders in the Pac-10 conference.

"I have great confidence in this group of kids," said Bellotti. "I think they are resilient, tough, courageous and will come back."

For every end there is a beginning. The 23-game win streak is over, but there are four games left in the regular season and the Ducks start anew next week. Mistakes against a quality team in the Pac-10 leads to defeat, and against Stanford, Oregon made too many mistakes. The slings of taunts and harsh words will be directed toward the Ducks this week as those detractors who have hoped for Oregon's "luck" to run out will have something to gloat over. For what it is worth though, Duck fans had shown their colors proudly before the Stanford game, were still flying the green and yellow of the Duck Nation as they left Autzen Stadium after the loss. Oregon fans have seen a lot of winning football at Autzen Stadium, and in two weeks against Arizona State the team and the fans in green will be ready for a new string to start.


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