Ducks Roll on PSU 55-12

Eugene, Ore. -- The Oregon Ducks (6-2, 3-2) did what was expected on Saturday at Autzen Stadium by defeating the Portland State Vikings, 55-12. The win ensured Oregon of bowl eligibility and also helped salve the sting of last week's loss to Washington State.

(PHOTO) Jeremiah Johnson (24) lead Oregon with 86 yards on 17 carries and a career high 3 touchdowns in the Ducks 55-12 victory over Portland State. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

"I think just the confidence that we can execute the offense, defense and special teams," said Bellotti of the win. "We handled the football well, and got turnovers. We got a lot of pressure on their quarterback. After a couple of plays early, I thought that we did a very good job against the run. I think just the confidence that we are back on track as a team."

The Ducks did everything they wanted to do with the major exception of injuring running back Jonathan Stewart. Stewart suffered a strained abdomen in the first quarter on a play that has Mike Bellotti fuming. After exchanging possessions, the Ducks had the ball on their own 45 and Stewart took a handoff from Dennis Dixon, running to the left side of the line. After picking up five yards, Stewart was forced out of bounds by Portland State's Charles Manigo. However, instead of ceasing contact with Stewart, Manigo continued pushing even though both players were well over the sideline. The two ended up going over a bench and when the smoke cleared, Stewart remained on the ground. No flag was thrown, and that has Bellotti hopping mad.

"(It) happened 10 yards out of bounds," said Bellotti of the playing that caused Stewart's latest injury.

Bellotti indicated that he would make a complaint to the Pac-10 conference about the play and his concerns for his players' safety.

While it was expected that Stewart would see plenty of playing time this week in view of his performance at Washington State last week, it turned out Jeremiah Johnson did most of the work. Johnson finished the day carrying the ball 17 times gaining 86-yards net and scoring three touchdowns. Stewart ended the day with two carries for eight yards.

The Ducks were completely dominant on offense as expected and finished the game with 431 yards of total offense (196 rushing and 235 passing), running more plays (75-54) while having less time of possession (30:14 to 29:46). For the fifth time this season, Jaison Williams had over 100 yards of receiving. The big sophomore had eight catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Williams now is tied with Damon Griffin (1998) and Pat Johnson (1997) for the most 100-yard games in a single season.

"Any win is a great win for us, but we need to stay focused and get ready because next week is a big step," said Williams of the PSU win. "Washington is a good team."

Dennis Dixon overcame some initial nervousness by throwing 13-for-23, 150 yards and a touchdown. Brady Leaf saw considerable playing time and finished up 4-for-9, 34 yards and rushed for one touchdown of 3 yards. Freshman Nathan Costa saw his first time on the field today.

(PHOTO RIGHT) Nathan Costa (7) completes his first collegiate pass while leading the Ducks on a 98 yard touchdown drive in 9 plays. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

"It felt great," said Costa of his playing time. "It just felt great to get in there and move the team down the field like that."

Costa was 3-for-3 for 51 yards and also engineered a 98-yard scoring drive in nine plays. He also rushed for 14 yards.

"It felt really good to see the ball spin perfectly into their hands like that," Costa said of his first career passes. "Everything seemed to fall together."

While Costa burned up his red shirt year with the appearance, the coaches had planned it all out. Bellotti indicated that the staff had wanted to insert Costa into games earlier in the year but the opportunity did not fully develop until today.

"Coach Crowton told me early in the week to be ready because I would see some action," Costa explained. "My parents flew in for the game, my coach from high school was here so it was just great timing."

One other first was reached today when walk-on running back Andiel Brown crossed the goal line for the first time in his career. Brown saw most of the carries in the fourth quarter and in the drive that was engineered by Costa and started on Oregon's 2, the Ducks moved to the Viking 7, second and goal. Costa took the snap and handed the ball to Brown who moments later racked up the touchdown.

(PHOTO LEFT) Andiel Brown (27) raises a fist after scoring his first collegiate touchdown on a 7 yard run in the 4th quarter.(Photo by Chris Wilson)

"It was amazing," said a joyful Brown in the post-game interview room. "Everything was happening so fast and against Idaho (Brown's first career game) it was moving so slow motion because it was my first time ever playing, it was like a dream-state…It felt surreal."

Defensively, the Ducks had to overcome some mistakes as the defensive line had problems staying on their side of the line of scrimmage until the ball was snapped. The Ducks were flagged five times for offsides. Overall, Oregon had eight penalties. As annoying as the penalties were for the coaching staff, they had to be happy with the number of sacks (5) and the turnover ratio in which the Ducks took possession of the ball with three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Oregon did not turn the ball over today.

Blair Phillips was again the leading tackler with eight (three solo) including two tackles for loss and a half sack. Darius Sanders had five tackles (four solo) including two sacks. David Faaeteete had a sack and a half while Nick Reed accounted for the fifth sack. Ra'Shon Harris saw his first playing time of the year and had two tackles (one solo) and pass break up.

A.J. Tuitele, Willie Glasper and Jairus Byrd all had interceptions. Tuitele returned his pick 26 yards for a touchdown.

Paul Martinez kicked field goals of 48 and 34-yards.

The Ducks fulfilled one of their pre-season goals of becoming bowl eligible by recording the sixth win of the season. Even though Portland State is a 1-AA team, the Vikings played hard during the contest. Next week is homecoming and the Ducks will entertain the Washington Huskies in a game that will go a long way in determining where Oregon will end up in post-season play.

Any win is a good win, and after the disappointing loss last week in the Palouse, the win over Portland State could not have come at a better time.

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