Green prevail 26-17

Eugene, Ore. -- The Oregon Ducks held the annual spring football game on Saturday with the Green squad prevailing 26-17 over the white. The team had been split into two squads for the game that concluded the 15-practice session schedule. Oregon's head coach Mike Bellotti was pleased with the defensive effort in the game but thought the offense was somewhat spotty even though a number of players had good individual efforts.

(PHOTO) Dennis Dixon (10) scrambles for 22 yards during Oregon's 2006 Spring Game. (photo by Chris Wilson)

"I was very pleased with the defense," said Bellotti of the scrimmage. "I think that anytime you get turnovers, that's exciting."

The green defenders intercepted three Brady Leaf passes and also was given credit for seven sacks while the white had two, but it should be noted that both quarterbacks donned a red jersey signifying no contact. Still though Bellotti was not excited about the offense's sense of urgency controlling the football.

"They (the offenses) certainly moved the ball up and down the field, but again I don't think you can win the game if you turn the ball over," observed Bellotti.

For the day Dixon was 14-for-25, 114 yards and one touchdown to Garren Strong for 31 yards. Leaf was 19-for-31, 285 yards and a touchdown to Jaison Williams for 38 yards.

Strong was the leading receiver for the green with five catches for a total of 73 yards. Jonathan Stewart also had five catches for 12 yards. Jeremiah Johnson was the leading pass receiver for the white with five grabs for 79 yards. Williams had four receptions for 62 yards followed by Dante Rosario's three for 37 yards. James Finley picked up two nabs for 13 yards and Kyle Weatherspoon was credited with two receptions 57 yards.

The headman was happy with the running game for good reason. Jonathan Stewart was electric at times and finished off the afternoon gaining 74 net yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Not to be outdone, Jeremiah Johnson had 56 yards on 11 carries. Terrell Jackson had a respectable 32 yards on eight carries while Andiel Brown ran for 32 yards on six carries. Dixon also had 58 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Defensively Jameel Dowling was the leading tackler for the green with eight tackles (6 solo, 2 assists) including a tackle for loss and two break ups. Terrell Ward and Jackie Bates both had eight tackles and Victor Filipe recorded three TFLs. Matthew Harper picked off two passes for the green and Jairus Byrd was given credit for the third interception.

"Matthew Harper made some big-time plays on defense, I'm pleased," Bellotti said of the junior transfer. "I'm excited to talk about him because he's been a play maker all spring and he's a first time player in the system and the program."

Matt Evenson hit a 20-yard field goal in the first quarter for the green and Morgan Flint was successful on a 26-yard attempt for the white. Flint also missed one attempt of 31 yards. Brandon Bair also blocked a punt for the white.

The good news is that there were no injuries in the game. Bellotti clearly was happy with that fact as he and his staff now turn their attention to the 2006 season that starts on September 2nd against Stanford.

"Overall nobody was hurt and that's a tremendous positive thing," explained Bellotti. "Now we are going to go full force into next season starting on Monday and the kids know what they need to work on."

Attendance for the game was estimated at 6,880 although many left at halftime. The first half of the game was ran with a game clock, meaning the clock stopped on all dead balls. The second half went by much faster using a running clock of two 15 minute quarters.

There were a number of questions coming into the spring workouts regarding the Ducks. Could Oregon find a replacement for Haloti Ngata and would the quarterback question raised when Kellen Clemens broke his ankle last season be resolved? During the spring drills the defense received the consistent praise of the head coach and it is clear that Dennis Dixon will be the starting signal caller next fall. Another thing that was made clear in the spring is that the Oregon running game with Stewart, Johnson and Jackson is real and very potent. Between now and the start of fall camp, the Ducks will return to weight room a bit more clear on what is expected of them and what they are capable of doing.

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