Thud...Ducks Dropped in Las Vegas Bowl

Las Vegas, Nev. – You only thought that Oregon's loss to Arizona in November was the biggest disappointment of the year. That's until the Ducks took the field against BYU in Sam Boyd Stadium in 15th Annual Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl. Mistakes, poor defense and over coaching made it a joyful experience for the Cougar faithful – and something else for the Ducks as the men in green lost 38-8.

(PHOTO) A dejected Jonathan Stewart walks off the field at the Las Vegas Bowl on December 21, 2006. (Photo by Marty Martindale)

"We didn't play very well," said Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti of the defeat. "We got out coached, out played, out hustled. We did not win the battle at the line of scrimmage."

Oregon only managed a total of 260 net yards of offense while giving up 548 yards to BYU. The Ducks got off to a bad start on the first play of the game when a designed flea-flicker blew up after Jonathan Stewart took a hand off and tossed the ball back to Brady Leaf. Leaf looked down field but was unable to get the ball off and was sacked. The Duck demise however came in the second quarter when Oregon gave up 17 points and BYU took complete control of the game. Oregon managed only 73 yards of total offense but managed to punt the ball six times in the first half. Neither starting quarterback Brady Leaf or back up Dennis Dixon could must up any action for the shell shocked Ducks and about the only thing that was interesting about Oregon's effort was the new greenish helmets unveil at the game.

For the game Stewart gained a net of 41 yards for the game but for the season he fell a painful 19-yards short of a 1,000-yard season.

"There are certain times they (opponents) have taken him out of the game we have to figure out ways to keep him in, Jeremiah (Johnson) at the same time has done some good things," said Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton of the Ducks anemic running game. "I've got to find ways to have other options for Jonathan so people can't take him out of the game."

Receivers failed to get open, and when they finally did the offense line failed to keep Leaf protected and he was sacked a total of four times. The second half was little better as Oregon was unable to sustain drives and gave up anther BYU touchdown to make the score 24-0. The opening play of the fourth quarter saw Dixon revert back to his old tricks of throwing interceptions all one could do was wonder when freshman Nathan Costa would make an appearance.

Oregon simply could not do anything right. Even during the joint media conference held on Wednesday, the Ducks arrived dressed casually while the BYU players were dressed in suits. The night before the game, Oregon's players were not sequestered but allowed to roam around the casinos of Las Vegas with a cursory curfew time to be back in their rooms.

"We'll take the blame," said center Enoka Lucas of the team's performance. "We lost it."

To add insult to injury, BYU's Curtis Brown ran wild on Oregon and the Ducks in the second half. Not that it made much difference as Oregon could stop Beck's passing game either. Brown finished the night with 120 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.

Dixon finally hooked up with Brian Paysinger on 48-yard touchdown pass that may have been intended for Jordan Kent. Jeremiah Johnson ran into the end zone for a 2-point conversion. After an unsuccessful on-side kick, the Ducks defense watched as the BYU offense marched off a three play drive of 49 yards last one minute and eight seconds and put up seven more points after the PAT making the score 38-8.

Bellotti had created a bit of stir on Wednesday when he indicated he did not think that BYU would be among the elite of the Pac-10. Asked after the game if his opinion changed he said he felt the same way with a condition.

"Well right now we didn't play like a mid-level Pac-10 team," replied Bellotti. "But no, my opinion has not changed."

Some of the notable misses besides Stewart coming up short for a 1,000 yards season was Jaison Williams failing to catch a pass. For the year, Williams had 68 catches for 968 yards.

BYU's John Beck was clearly the most valuable player of the game with 375 yards on 28-of-46 effort with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His favorite target Jonny Harlin had nine catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

The loss dropped Oregon's once promising season to a mediocre 7-6 record while BYU improved to 11-2 for the year. BYU was more directed and wanted the win more than the Ducks. After the game though there was little Bellotti could do in terms of addressing the root causes of Oregon's dismal end of the 2006 season. Injuries such as the one that took defensive tackle Matt Toeaina out of the game hurt the Oregon effort but Bellotti said that was not an excuse as others should have stepped up the man the loss.

"Come back next year," responded Bellotti to the question of what he has to say to Oregon fans and boosters about Oregon football. "We'll be better."

Jordan Kent sprained his toe in the closing moments of the game according to Bellotti.

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