Ducks demolish Huskies 45-21

Eugene, Ore. – Oregon overcame two early fumbles and came roaring back in dominating fashion both on offense and defense to beat arch-rival Washington 45-21. The Ducks outclassed the Huskies in all phases of the game and set a record for pass completions in the process. Also in the process the Ducks appear to recapture something from the past – a sense of unity and friendship, similar to that found in teams from the past.

(PHOTO ABOVE) Oregon's Kellen Clemens (11) looks for the pass against Washington in the fourth quarter in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005. Oregon beat Washington 45-21. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

"It's a great win," said Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti of the game. "The way we started off made it an even better win. We give them the ball twice at the beginning of the game, turning it over twice. That's not the way you want to start a big game, especially a rivalry game. I thought our defense really played well."

The game started off on the wrong foot for the Ducks when on the very first possession of the game, senior quarterback Kellen Clemens hit James Finley for a routine 3-yard gain, but Finley lost the ball on Oregon's 40 and the Huskies recovered. However, revealing the kind of team it is, Washington was unable to do more than take three snaps before having to punt the ball. The ball was placed on the 20 after the touchback and on the first snap of the second Oregon possession, Clemens and senior running back ran Terrence Whitehead ran into each other and the ball ended up on the turf again, this time at the Oregon 19. Washington took over and on its first snap, a holding call moved the ball back to the Oregon 26. After this inauspicious start, quarterback Isaiah Stanback threw a 26-yard strike to Sonny Shackleford and with the point after conversion the stunned Autzen Stadium crowd of 58,269 (the fourth largest in stadium history) was quieted with the 7-0 Washington lead. But that was the high point for Washington today. After that, the Ducks spread offense did whatever if felt like.

Clemens directed the offense quickly on the next drive and within a couple of minutes of what the best the Washington offense could offer, the game was tied at 7.

Clemens had a record day by completing 36 passes on 48 attempts for 425 yards, four touchdowns no interceptions or sacks. The 36 pass completions set a new stadium record surpassing 33 completions by Paul Pinegar of Fresno State (2005) and Ty Detmer of Brigham Young in 1990. The Oregon offense was so dominating that it racked up a total of 570 yards, including 146 yards rushing and 424 yards passing.

Clemens was able to spread the wealth around with his throws. Senior wide receiver Demetrius Williams had 5 catches for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns before sore ribs forced him to the sidelines. Finley wound up with 7 catches for 67 yards, Whitehead had 7 grabs for 59 yards and Jaison Williams had 5 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. If that wasn't enough, Cameron Colvin had 4 receptions for 63 yards and Tim Day emerged with 2 catches for 27 yards. In all, 13 Oregon receivers were credited with a reception.

"We were not able to control their passing game," said Washington head coach Ty Willingham. "It was very disappointing."

The spread offense was continually moving forward as evidenced by the fact the Ducks only punted twice. Clemens was in complete command of his throws and when ever he needed to find someone he could, his receivers were holding onto the ball and offensive line was protecting him all day long.

"He's a lot more comfortable than he has been in the past, but as receivers we have to step up and make plays and it helps his confidence," said Demetrius Williams of Clemens. "Our offensive line is playing awesome and they're the ones out there giving Kellen protection.

The Oregon running game is alive and well, even if there isn't one individual rusher with over 100 yards for the day. Whitehead continually ate up the Washington defense in racking up 44 yards on just 11 carries. Jonathan Stewart got into the act and picked up his fifth touchdown of the year (third rushing score) with a 17 yard run in the third quarter. Stewart had a total of 38 yards on 6 touches while fellow freshman Jeremiah Johnson had 38 yards on 3 runs. Clemens had 22 yards on three keepers to go along with all the gaudy passing numbers and Terrell Jackson had two carries for 11 yards. Brian Paysinger also had a carry for 11 yards on a wide receiver end around that resulted in a touchdown. Whitehead taking his position as the senior and being the leader has had an influence on the other backs.

"Terrence Whitehead continues to make plays," observed Bellotti. "I also like the play of that young group of running backs. Terrence has done a great job of mentoring. He's in their ear telling them things all of the time. Looking at Jonathan Stewart, Jeremiah Johnson and Terrell Jackson, they're doing some great things and contributing."

Defensively, the Ducks continue their week-to-week improvement and today was very evident of that. Oregon held Washington to a total of 238 yards net of offense. The Huskies could only muster up 117 yards of passing and 121 yards of rushing. Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was a monster inside as he continually crushed the Husky protective pocket surrounding Stanback. The Washington signal caller was sacked four times today, losing 23 yards in the process. Devan Long recorded two and half sacks, with Anthony Trucks recording the other sack and a half. Rover Patrick Chung was the leading tackler for the day with 11 tackles (4 solo, 7 assisted) and had an interception. Ngata, besides pushing the offensive pocket around also recorded 7 tackles (3 solo, 4 assisted) including one tackle for loss.

"Haloti Ngata compressed that pocket all day and our defensive line played great," Bellotti said. "To contain Isaiah Stanback, a very dangerous athlete and (an) improving football player, was big for us today."

The defense has steadily improved over the course of the season and one of the reasons why according to Long is the sense of closeness the team has for each other.

"Our team is just clicking," said Long. "Our team is so close as friends, we all have each others' back. We could be down 24-7 and we still know that we would win. That's the same kind of feeling that we had on the Fiesta Bowl team."

The Ducks' special teams were relatively quiet today as the only time they were called out, other than the two punts was a 30-yard field goal Matt Evenson made in the third quarter.

While the Huskies now drop to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Pac-10, the win for Oregon was big. First the win means that the Ducks now have a winning season, as the Ducks' record is now 6-1, 3-1 in the Pac-10. Secondly, Oregon demonstrated again that it could come back from early adversity and win. Thirdly, the type of football the Ducks are playing can only reinforce the confidence of the players as they head into the final four games of the regular season.

"We have been a different football team since halftime of the Stanford game," claimed Bellotti. "We're playing with a greater intensity and a greater enthusiasm. That emotion needs to be our twelfth man on the field; we just have to keep it under control."

For Willingham, he will have to take the positives from the game including a couple of drives in the fourth quarter and build on that. However, for the Ducks and their fans, anytime they can beat Washington is a good day and in a rivalry that is important for bragging rights. Willingham would have liked to made the rubbing a bit softer for the fans back home in Seattle.

"I think it's a great rivalry," remarked Willingham of the Oregon-Washington series. "I don't think we lived up to our part today."

The Ducks though, clearly held their end up.

Oregon travels to Tucson next week to take on the Arizona Wildcats. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Stats from the University of Oregon Athletic Department's official site,

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