Sophomore quarterback Dennis Dixon started in place of injured Kellen Clemens and had a touchdown pass to Demetrius Williams in the first quarter. According to Oregon's head coach Mike Bellotti Dixon took a hard hit that may have affected some of his decision-making later in the game. Bellotti was upbeat though about what can be done to improve Dixon's play.
"He got shaken up early on the first touchdown pass, he got hit pretty hard and that caused him a little hesitation," said Bellotti of Dixon's play. "We can change some things of his reads this week. His foot speed and ability to make things happen are there."
Dixon was 15-for-26, 139 yards, the touchdown and one interception. However, 103 yards of Dixon's passing total was recorded in the first quarter and the touchdown catch by Williams was for 24 yards. Williams' TD catch was his ninth of the season, the most since Keenan Howry (9) in 2002, and Williams is now just two short of the all-time single season record of 11.
(PHOTO RIGHT) Oregon's quarterback Brady Leaf (16) throws the winning touchdown pass to teammate James Finley (not shown) during overtime against California, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005, at Autzen Stadium, in Eugene, Ore. Oregon defeated California, 27-20. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Oregon was able to bring in back up quarterback Brady Leaf in parts of the second half and in the overtime period to secure the win and keep the Ducks hope of reaching a BCS bowl alive. Leaf threw a touchdown pass to James Finley in overtime and it was the first scoring pass for both the thrower and receiver in an Oregon uniform. While it might appear there could be a quarterback controversy, but according to Bellotti, Dixon is the starter. However Leaf has earned the right to playing time and obviously the Ducks had that in the back of their mind when overtime became a possibility.
"It was Coach (Gary) Crowton trying to get us both into the situation," said Leaf about the plan of using both he and Dixon in the game. "They told me to be ready. They said I might get a series or two."
Leaf finished the game going 9-for-13, 93 yards and the touchdown pass to Finley. Finley had six receptions against Cal for 47 yards with a long of 18. Senior running back Terrence Whitehead was the leading receiver with eight catches for 72 yards. Dee Williams had three catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Tim Day also had three grabs for 33 yards along with wide receiver Cameron Colvin's three catches for 28 yards. Jaison Williams and Garren Strong both had a catch.
Oregon's James Finley is tackled by California's Harrison Smith after catching a pass in overtime Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005, at Autzen Stadium, in Eugene, Ore. Oregon defeated California 27-20. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Bellotti was impressed with the talent Finley has added to the Ducks this season. Surprisingly, it took nine games into the season before Finley recorded his first touchdown. For the season he 39 catches for 397 yards and the one touchdown. Finley has been the type of receiver this season that seems to always be in the right place in the right time and in the critical overtime period he had two catches to help ensure the Oregon win.
James Finley and his two catches in the overtime really were key," said Bellotti of Finley's performance. "We know that he brings that ability to the table."
Whitehead was the workhorse again for the Ducks on Saturday. Along with his 72 yards of receiving, Whitehead had over 100 yards of rushing with 119 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. With his rushing total against Cal, Whitehead moved to fifth all-time on the all-purpose running list, passing Bobby Moore (1969-71/3,898) with 4,043 career all-purpose yards. The 119 yards of rushing was also Whitehead's tenth 100 yard game, second-most in school history behind Saladin McCullough, Sean Burwell and Derek Loville's 11 (100-yard game performances).
Oregon's Terrence Whitehead runs over Califonia's Tui Alailefaleula (55) in the first half Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005, at Autzen Stadium, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ryan Gardner)
Whitehead's rushing touchdown came in the third quarter when he took a handoff from Leaf and scampered 18 yards for the score. The touchdown was Leaf's career touchdown drive.
Oregon will travel next week to Pullman, Washington to take on the Washington State Cougars (3-6, 0-6). The game will be carried on Fox Sports Net with a kickoff scheduled for 7:15 p.m.