Playmakers Save The Day

Oregon rode the arm of Kellen Clemens to the tune of a 41-38 victory over Washington State. Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti said that when things looked the darkest is when he thought the Ducks would win.

Clemens finished the game with a personal best, 36 for 55 passing, for 437 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored three rushing touchdowns, including the final score that literally broke the hearts of Cougar fans everywhere. Trailing the entire game, the Ducks used a furious comeback in the fourth quarter to score 27 points in what could be one of biggest turnarounds in Oregon history. As the game wound down toward the final whistle, the cowboy from Eastern Oregon intensified his performance and refused to be defeated by the school in Eastern Washington. Going 16-for-21 for 200 yards and tossing all three of his touchdown passes, in addition to running for the final score, he was a man possessed – possessed with winning the Ducks first Pac-10 game. Clemens found a number of different receivers in the fourth quarter, and like last year's light's out game against California, Oregon seemed to have turned a corner in the season.

"The kids played hard and finished the game," said offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. (We) had some playmakers step up at key times and I'm happy for the players." (Click here for the complete Ludwig interview.)

Day, who had been hampered with the effects of surgery for a stress fracture in July, seemed to be back in the form he was last season when he caught Clemens pass for a the go ahead touchdown against California. Clearly having his best performance of the season, surprisingly, Head Coach Mike Bellotti was asked if going to Day was something that came naturally and he indicated that the coaching staff decided to force some things Day's way.

"He (Day) was in some in some routes and we just didn't find him or get the protection long enough to shake him loose," remarked a pleased Bellotti. "We sort of said ‘the heck with that lets call a few more designed plays to him in the second half where he was the primary receiver' and he responded very well."

Day finished the afternoon against the Cougars with eight catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns. While the Clemens-Day combination may have been the highlight of the fourth quarter, Demetrius Williams, who caught twelve passes for 126 yards despite playing with a turf toe injury, was the workhouse for the entire game. Williams kept a number of drives alive for the offense during the first three quarters of play. Along with Williams and Day, Bellotti also mentioned two other receivers as contributing and be playmakers. . Marcus Maxwell also had four catches for 40 yards and one touchdown. Freshman Cameron Colvin also contributed with three catches for 35 yards.

The running game kept pace with the passing game. The Ducks rushed for 252 yards, 166 of those from Terrence Whitehead on 22 carries. Clemens also rushed for a net of 36 yards and the three touchdowns, but was also sacked five times. The Ducks had a total of 646 yards offense to WSU's 374 (143 yards rushing, 231 yards passing.)

The Ducks started the game off by receiving the kickoff, and three plays later they punted. Just as soon as Washington State's quarterback josh Swogger got his hands on the ball, he hit Jason Hill for a 39-yard touchdown strike and it look like the Ducks were in one more game of a very long season. Swogger ended up the day with impressive statistics. He was 13-for-36, 231 yards, three touchdowns but was picked off by Oregon defenders on two occasions. Bellotti, who called for defensive playmakers also was pleased that Cornerbacks Justin Phinisee and Aaron Gipson responded with their efforts on the field. While the Ducks did give up too many big plays, particularly against the run, they did show a significant improvement, particularly when freshman cornerback Jackie Bates came in.

"You have to respond," said Bates of defense's attitude after giving up the big touchdown passes. "And we did."

After the game, the team was spontaneous as they sang the Oregon fight song. There may have been an additional amount of emotion directed to some who may have doubted if this team could do more than beat Idaho. While the will still have their work cut out for them they look much improved and more confident than they have all year long. The ducks are home against Arizona next week looking for win No. 2 in the Pac-10 race, a contest Oregon still feels very much apart of.

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