The Ducks are Falling, 28-13 to ASU

From the time the band first played the Oregon fight song, the crowd seemed more energized since the days of Joey Harrington, and in the first quarter of play it appeared the defense was fired up and the offense was moving the ball. Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti thinks he may have psyched his team up too much. Penalties, field position, lack of execution and inability to finish drives cost the Ducks again, to the tune of a 28-13 loss to Arizona State.

"Too many penalties, too amped up to start the game," said Bellotti. "That's probably my fault. We had a lot of intensity and it was unfortunate that it turned into some not-so-smart penalties."

For the first time in the season, Arizona State was unable to score in the first quarter of a football game, and statistically the Ducks looked as if the enthusiasm they carried out from the locker room would translate to success on the field. The Ducks had more yardage, 100 yards to four yards, held onto the ball longer, six minutes to nine minutes and more penalties, five to three. In the second quarter the Ducks settled down and sustained drives, but could only realize six points on two scoring opportunities while the Sun Devils scored two touchdowns on their chances. On the Ducks first scoring drive, the Oregon offense held onto the ball for over six and half minutes in a 15 play, 75 yard drive. Unable to move the ball past the ASU 5-yardline, Oregon settled for a Jared Siegel field goal of 22 yards. On the ensuing possession, ASU started off from their own 20 and had a combination of a Hakim Hill run of 27 yards and a 15-yard personal foul for grabbing the face mask tacked on end of Hill's run. Two plays later, Andrew Walter hit Jamaal Lewis for a 22-yard touchdown. Oregon again responded with an impressive drive of 11 plays and 57 yards, but again was unable to score a touchdown. Siegel hit his second field goal of 34 yards. ASU's second score of the first half was a Walter touchdown pass to Terry Richardson of 24 yards.

"The last touchdown (ASU), we broke down defensively and had a corner playing a trail technique and Walter then went over the top," explained Bellotti of the Walter's 24 yard scoring pass. "I felt we played well defensively, hold Walter to three completions in the first half, but the touchdowns were breakdowns in coverage."

The Sun Devils scored on their first possession of the third quarter in just over four minutes after receiving the kickoff and eight plays covering 86 yards. While it looked bleak for the Ducks, Oregon managed to mount a long, 88-yard drive of their own lasting nearly nine minutes and taking 15 plays. The drive culminated with a shuttle pass from Kellen Clemens to Terrence Whitehead of nine yards for the touchdown. ASU would score one more touchdown late in the fourth quarter to ice the game on a drive that lasted 10 plays covering 59 yards, ending with a Walter to Rudy Burgess touchdown.

Whitehead, the workhorse for the night had 23 carries for 98 yards and led the receivers with five catches for 45 yards and the touchdown. Clemens ended the night 17-for-31, 177 yards and one touchdown. Walter was 14-of-23, 164 yards and three touchdowns. Hill was the leading rusher for the game with 142 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown.

"Overall, I am pleased with our effort but not with our execution," Bellotti said. "I thought we battled against a good football team. We just made it too easy for them at times."

So what was the problem? Was it leadership among the team? Not according to Bellotti it is execution.

"I think our leadership is good, there are kids stepping up," said Bellotti. "They are doing a nice job in terms of enthusiasm and emotion. I am looking at our execution as what we need to improve primarily."

Whatever energy there was at the start of the game, it seemed to be lacking at the end. Bellotti still believes that his team has unity and will work this week to keep this season's hopes alive as they prepare for Washington State.

The Ducks travel to Pullman to try to avenge last year's devastating 55-16 loss to the Cougars. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. and the game will not be televised.

Notes:
Injuries: Marley Tucker, dislocated elbow, out six to eight weeks; Robin Knebel,sprained ankle, two days to two weeks (will know more tomorrow); Demetrius Williams, shoulder sprain, could be a couple days to a couple weeks (will know more tomorrow).

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