Ducks take Montana 47-14

Eugene, Ore. -- Paul Martinez has eased every Duck fan's mind about whether Oregon has a field goal kicker. Martinez set an Oregon and stadium record on Saturday by kicking six field goals in Oregon's 47-14 whipping of Montana in front 58,168 fans, the 37th consecutive sellout of Autzen Stadium. Martinez was perfect on all six of his attempts and for the second week in a row, the junior has tied the school record for single-game field goal attempts.

Not that Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti will turn down Martinez's hot kicking streak, but if Bellotti had his druthers, he'd rather have touchdowns instead. For the second week in a row, the Duck offense has managed to find the redzone but converting the great field position has not been such an easy task. Oregon managed to score 11 times against Montana, but six were by field goals, four by touchdowns and one by a safety.

"We don't necessarily want him to lead the nation in field goals and we need to convert more extra points," said Bellotti of Martinez's effort against Montana. "But we'll take it."

Montana, a Division I-AA, team runs a similar offense to the Ducks and that may have it's up and downs. First, the Oregon defense is used to seeing the spread offense and have a pretty good idea how to defend it considering they practice against it everyday. Secondly, of course the same can be said for Montana's defense too. While the Ducks were efficient moving the ball, recording 21 first downs, and 426 yards of total offense, Montana was limited to seven first downs and 144 yards of total offense. The Ducks also led in one of Bellotti's most watched statistics – turnover-to-take away ratio. Oregon had two interceptions by the same two players that recorded picks last week, Aaron Gipson and Rodney Woods. The Ducks also recovered two of Montana's fumbles. Oregon did not give up an interception but lost two fumbles, one when a lateral from Kellen Clemens bounced off Terrence Whitehead. Montana was able to recover and throw its sole scoring strike of the first half on the ensuing change of possession play.

"Being on the plus side of turnover margin is always a good thing," observed Bellotti. "Besides that one Dennis Dixon interception last week, which I don't really count, we haven't turned the ball over on offense all year and that's a huge thing for us."

The game started off spectacularly enough with an 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by freshman Jonathan Stewart. Stewart picked up a pooch kick at his own 18-yardline, swept right and simply out ran the Montana defenders to the goal line. Even though the point after hit the upright, the stadium noise that erupted because of Stewart's run carried through the following kick off and created so much confusion it caused an errant snap. Stewart's day ended in the first half when he found himself on the bottom of a pile and he suffered a sprained ankle. Bellotti is hoping that Stewart's injury is not too bad, as he will be needed in the weeks to come.

"He got a little tired on that opening kick return," Bellotti said of Stewart's kick return. "It showed his great combination of speed and athleticism and we are going to need that as the season progresses."

After Stewart's kick return though, the first half was all about the Ducks getting into the redzone and being unable to take advantage of the field position. After Stewart's initial touchdown, the Ducks scored one more touchdown and five more field goals, by Martinez. Demetrius Williams scored in the second quarter on a 17-yard pass from Clemens and Martinez had good kicks of 26, 40, 38, 37 and 42 yards in the first half.

The Ducks gave up a score in the second quarter when senior cornerback Aaron Gipson misjudged a pass and leaped too early and landed back on the ground as the ball soared into Montana's Jon Talmage's hands in the Oregon endzone.

In the second half, the Ducks defense dominated the Montana offense, yet the Oregon offense seemed to be more like a team running through practice than one playing a game. It was if the Ducks were trying to get their offense ignited and they ended up having to punt once, lost a fumble, turned the ball over on downs twice (once in the waning moments of the game), scored two touchdowns and kicked one field goal. Montana gave up a safety, punted three times, gave up an interception, missed a field goal and scored a touchdown with a little over five minutes left to play when the game was completely out of reach.

Clemens was 24-of-40, 275 yards and two touchdowns and for the second straight game he had no interceptions. Clemens also rushed for seven yards on 12 carries. Dennis Dixon came into the game during the third quarter and threw a touchdown pass of 39 yards to Kyle Weatherspoon. Dixon was 1-for-1 passing for 39 yards. Dixon rushed the ball five times for 16 yards. Brady Leaf was 2-of-5 for 25 yards. While Houston was unable to sack a Duck quarterback last week, Montana sacked both Clemens and Leaf this week.

"It was nice to see Dennis Dixon get on track with that great pass to Kyle Weatherspoon," Bellotti mentioned. "I thought that was an excellent football play as a whole."

Demetrius Williams was the leading receiver for the Ducks with five catches for 93 yards and a score. Weatherspoon had three catches for 49 yards and a score. James Finley grabbed three balls for 37 yards and Time Day and Dante Rosario both had three catches (26 and 27 yards respectively).

Terrence Whitehead was the leading rusher with a net of 36 yards on 18 carries. Whitehead was tagged for a minus 14 yards on the missed lateral. Terrell Jackson had five carries for 16 yards. Whitehead, a senior was not pleased with the Oregon rushing game. The Ducks ended up with a total of 87 net yards.

"We've got to pick it up a lot," said Whitehead. "I got the ball more today. I just have got to make more plays with it."

Defensively, Anthony Trucks, who had nine total tackles, led the Ducks. Darius Sanders started the game on fire with three tackles for loss, and ended up with a total of four tackles. Haloti Ngata had a total five tackles including one tackle for loss, one forced fumble (that lead to the safety), one fumble recovery, one break up and a sack.

"I challenged Haloti (Ngata) a little this week and he responded well," indicated Bellotti. "Darius Sanders had many key tackles, and it was good to see Aaron Gipson and Rodney Woods get some big interceptions in the secondary."

Next week, the Ducks face a ranked opponent in Fresno State and according to Bellotti, Oregon will have to get a whole lot better than today.

"They are a ranked Division I team and they are known to play well on the road, so that is certainly a tough game for us," admitted Bellotti. "We are going to have to work hard this week to get ready for them."

While beating Montana was expected, perhaps it was Clemens that summed up the season the best to this point.

"I am unsatisfied with this win," said Clemens. "First of all, we have to run the ball better. We didn't get enough first downs. There were too many field goals. But we are 2-0."

Kickoff for the Fresno State game is scheduled for 4 p.m. next Saturday at Autzen Stadium. The game will be carried on TBS.

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