The Duck Find Charm in Sevens

Seven is a very unlucky number particularly if it represents the number of turnovers a team commits in a football game, and on Saturday at Autzen Stadium it was the Washington Huskies giving up the ball. The Huskies had four balls intercepted and lost three fumbles on the way to losing to the Oregon Ducks 31-6 in front of 58,101 fans who shouted for more blood over their arch-rival.

Oregon's Terrence Whitehead carries the ball for a touchdown as Washington's Derrick Johnson, left, attempts to make a tackle in the fourth quarter Saturday, Oct. 30, 2004, in Eugene, Ore. Oregon won, 31-6. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

"Our defense did an awesome job, not only scoring the touchdown, but turning away several touchdown opportunities for Washington. Getting turnovers, interceptions, it made the difference in the game. We were ball hawks in the secondary and our defensive front played very well taking the run away."

The Oregon offense was very effective in the first half of play and put up 17 points and the Duck defense only allowed one Washington field goals going into halftime with a 17-3 lead. Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens was impressive with 14-for-22, 105 yards of passing and two touchdowns in the first half. Terrence Whitehead continued his hard running with 81 yards in the first half on 17 carries. The second half however, the Oregon offense went into hibernation until late in the fourth quarter and it was a strong defensive effort that put the game on ice for the Ducks, who now improve their record to 5-3 for the season and 4-1 in Pac-10 play. Washington drops 1-7 for the season and 0-5 in the Pac-10. Clemens finished up 21-for-34, 122 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Whitehead had his third 100-yard game in the last four with 122 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown.

In the second half, the Ducks stepped up their pressure on Washington quarterback Casey Paus, recording two sacks and intercepting the man who lit up Oregon last year in Husky stadium, with four interceptions – one for a touchdown. The Washington offense was as anemic as advertised particularly the running game. Oddly enough though, Paus was able to start some momentum with his passing. He ended up the contest going 14-for-36, 211 yards, four interceptions but no touchdowns. Washington finished the day with a paltry 45-yards rushing. A frustrated Washington head coach, Keith Gilbertson summed up the futility of the Washington offense.

"I'm sick of it," said Gilbertson. "It's a nightmare that we keep reliving. Week after week, we are able to get down there, and we can't find a way to score. It's exhausting. We've gone two weeks without a touchdown."

Oregon defensive end Chris Solomona led the way for the men in green with his second career interception and his second career interception for a touchdown. With 4:12 left in the game, Paus was again feeling the pressure of the Oregon 4-man pass rush that has been partially responsible for the upsurge in interceptions for the Webfoots as of late. Paus fired up a pass toward Washington running back Kenny James but Solomona, standing on the Washington 10 got in the way. The ball popped up in the air after Solomona tipped it and he came down with the ball. It was just a matter then of walking into the end zone to the roar of the Oregon faithful. Solomona's pick was the last of the great day for the pass defense. Aaron Gipson had an interception in the third quarter. Gipson has had at least one interception in three of the last four games. Demetrius Spates recorded his first career interception also in the third quarter. Maybe the biggest play in the game was déjà vu of a day 10 years ago and nearly on the same spot on the field. Oregon's inability to move the ball in the third quarter allowed Washington the opportunity to keep their offense on the field. The Huskies mounted the most serious scoring attempt late in the third quarter when Craig Chambers caught his third straight 30-yard plus pass to put the ball on the Oregon 1. The Ducks stopped Sheldon Samson for a 4-yard loss as the quarter ended. On the first play of fourth quarter, the Huskies ran an out pattern. Reminiscent of Kenny Wheaton's pick of Damon Huard's pass in 1994, Ramone Reed read Paus correctly and snatched the ball out of the air and the ball changed directions.

"In my opinion that was the biggest play of the game," related Bellotti of Reed's interception. "They had all the momentum, they were down on the five of six-yard line and his interception seemed like a touchdown to me. It seemed like such a huge momentum shift and difference in points. I had already talked to Nick (Allioti) about the fact that if they score they are going for two. That was a huge play."

The Ducks also recovered three fumbles.

Oregon's first score was off an 80-yard, 13-play drive that ended with a 16-yard pass from Kellen Clemens to freshman Cameron Colvin. It was Colvin's first collegiate scoring reception for the former high school 5-star recruit. With 15 seconds left in the second quarter, Colvin got his second touchdown reception on a crafty 55 yard, 10-play drive that gave the Ducks a 17-3 lead. Colvin ended the day with six catches for 45 yards and the two scores. Tight end Tim Day also had six catches for 46 yards. Wide receiver Demetrius Williams re-injured his toe and only had one catch for seven yards. Bellotti said that Williams would to rest his toe and the game decision for California will be made later on in the week.

"When you lose your leading receiver it makes a difference," Bellotti mentioned. "Demetrius, of all the kids that did not play tonight, I think he's going to need to rest quite a bit this week and he'll be a late week decision as to his availability for the California game."

Whitehead's touchdown came late in the game on a 30-yard run. Jared Siegel had one field goal of 46 yards in the second quarter to complete the Oregon scoring,

Devan Long was the Ducks leading tackler on Saturday. He made a total of 12 tackles (eight solos and four assists) and also recorded a sack. With that sack, Long moved into fourth on the Oregon career list with 19.5, passing Reggie Jordan (1993-96), Matt Brock (1985-88) and Steve Baack (1981-83) all of whom had 19 career sacks. Long also had a pass break up, a forced fumble and quarterback hurry. JD Nelson had six tackles, two break ups and a quarterback hurry. Jerry Matson also had six tackles including three for loss. Haloti Ngata continued to be a terror to opposing offensive lines with four tackles and a forced fumble. Chris Vincent recorded a fumble recovery while on special teams. Ryan Gilliam also had a fumble recovery, as did Matt Toeaina. Punter David Dittman was very respectable with eight punts, averaging 38.3 yards and a long of 52 yards.

Next week the Ducks are going to have to produce more offense than they did against a weak Washington on Saturday. While the Ducks confidence has been greatly bolstered by winning four straight games, all their foes have been on the bottom side of the Pac-10 race. Next week the toughest Pac-10 opponent on the Ducks schedule will meet on California's home turf. Oregon has been up to the task over the last few weeks, but next week a team with a former Oregon offensive coordinator as its head coach, Jeff Tedford are waiting for the Ducks.

"California is a very good football team and they're playing at a high level right now," observed Bellotti. "They have an explosive offense and their defense, which I think is the most improved aspect of that program is their defense. Tomorrow will be our day to watch them on film, and obviously we will probably see some recognizable schemes."

Oregon started the season off in fall camp with high expectations. Those aspirations were dashed in a loss at home to Indiana and then the following week a reality check of just where the Oregon program is fell hard on the floor of Oklahoma's stadium in a decisive loss. Now, after four straight wins, the Ducks are the team they thought they would be in fall camp and next week they will have an opportunity to face one of the elite team in the California Bears. The Duck defense is up to the task. Oregon's offense has sputtered and in the game against Washington, the Ducks were unable to score a point in the third quarter. Like on a table in Las Vegas, seven can be a very unlucky number and for sure in Berkeley next week, any turnover by Oregon could be snake eyes.

A.J. Tuitele suffered a concussion, but should be available next week. Williams is the most serious of Bellotti's concerns about playing against Cal.

Saturday's crowd of 58,101 is the 35th consecutive sellout at Autzen Stadium.

Clemens moved into seventh place on UO career total offense with 4,891 yards and UO career passing yards of 4,613, passing Tony Graziani (1993-96) in both categories.

The Huskies have not scored a touchdown since the third quarter of their 29-14 loss to Oregon State, a span of nine quarters.

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