Ducks drops one in Norman

The heat, humidity and a great Oklahoma Sooners football team proved to be too much for the Oregon Ducks. Living up to its No. 2 ranking, the Sooners broke the game wide open in the second half and won 31-7. <br><br>Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens (11) gets set to throw as Oklahoma defensive end Dan Cody (80) rushes him Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004, during the first half of a game in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma is ranked number 2 in the current AP poll. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

"For about a half or three-quarters I was pretty proud of this team, they battled, (but) I don't think we battled in the fourth quarters," Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti told the Oregon Sports Network after the game. "I was disappointed in our performance."

Oregon, 0-2 for the season was trying to regain its form from an embarrassing loss at home last week to Indiana, 30-24, played Oklahoma very tightly in the first half of the contest and was tied 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Sooners, led by sixth-year senior Jason White managed to move the ball easily enough, but could only muster up a 10-0 halftime lead. The Ducks tried to make the second half more interesting and were able to score on a Kellen Clemens-to-Dante Rosario hook up of 30-yards, but it was too little. White, freshman running back Adrian Peterson and the Sooners went on in the second half to score three touchdowns and completely wear out the Oregon defense.

(Photo Right) Oklahoma running back Kejuan Jones (20) leaves Oregon cornerback Marques Binns (2) behind Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004, during the first half of a game in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma is ranked number 2 in the current AP poll. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

Peterson, playing just his third collegiate game, demonstrated just why he was the most sought after recruit out of high school last spring. The big 6-2, 210-pounder finished the day rushing for 185 yards on 24 attempts and scoring two touchdowns. His scoring runs were on 40 and 18 yard carries. White finished the day 17-for-23, 213 yards and one touchdown.

For the game the Ducks had a total of 314 yards of offense compared to Oklahoma's 418 yards. Oregon had 182 yards of passing and Oklahoma had 213 yards. Prior to the game Bellotti had hoped that the Oregon defense could stop Oklahoma's running game, but by the end of the contest there had been too much Peterson for the Ducks to handle. Oklahoma had a total of 222 yards of rushing. Perhaps one of the most telling statistics was the Sooners ability to convert third downs. Oklahoma ended up 9-of-12 third down conversion efficiency. The Ducks only managed 4-of-13 conversions on third down.

Oregon did have its opportunities to make the game more competitive. Four times Oregon was inside the Oklahoma 20-yard line, and four times the Ducks were turned away either by penalties or not being able to advance the ball for a score.

"The problems in the red zone to me are indicative of where we are at offensively right now," said Bellotti on OSN. "We moved the ball pretty good but did not finish the job."

(Photo Left) Oklahoma quarterback Jason White (18) looks for a receiver while offensive lineman Wes Sims (60) blocks Oregon defensive end Devan Long (92) Saturday, Sept. 18, 2004, during the first half of a game in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma is ranked number 2 in the current AP poll. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

If there were any positives from this loss it was the fact that many players saw action due to the hot, humid day in Norman and maybe that will be of benefit as the Ducks continue on this season. Bellotti mentioned a number of players including Jackie Bates, Darius Sanders and Marcus Binns as having a good day, and had special praise for Devan Long. Long sacked White and caused a fumble in the first half.

"We knew with the heat and humidity, (that) we would need to play a lot of people," Bellotti said on the post-game radio broadcast on OSN. "I think we did that today and I think we got dividends. Its going to pay returns for us down the road on both sides of the football but probably on defense more than anywhere else."

Injury-wise, Bellotti said that even though Aaron Gipson took a massive hit on a punt return that Gipson should be fine. Justin Phinisee pulled himself out in the first quarter due to an on-going hamstring problem he suffered last week. Everyone else on the roster should be available next week according to Bellotti.

The Oregon locker was probably not for the faint of heart heart after the game as Bellotti indicated he let his team know what he thought of their performance so far this season.

"I ripped them pretty good. I'm not very happy, not very pleased," said Bellotti on the air. "I think were a better team than we've shown in both weeks whether it be Indiana or Oklahoma. I'm frustrated that were not finishing plays on either side of the ball or finishing a game."

The Ducks will have a chance to put some positive momentum into their season next week against Idaho at Autzen Stadium. Oregon has not started a season 0-2 in 12 years, since the 1992 season when they lost to Hawaii, 24-21 and Stanford, 21-7. Oregon finished 6-6 in the 1992 campaign. If Bellotti's tongue-lashing has any effect, the Vandals of Idaho will be the first to know, but until then the Ducks are zero-and-two as a football team.


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