Too Much Talent Prevails

Stanford, Calif. -- At halftime, many wondered if some bad memories had started creeping back into the conscience of the Oregon Ducks. After all, the Ducks had blown a 21-3 lead and were looking at the wrong end of a 31-24 score. When the final gun sounded though, Oregon was a 55-31 victor over Stanford.

(PHOTO) Dennis Dixon scores to make it 21-3 in the first quarter of Oregon's 55-31 win over Stanford. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

"We sort of had a gut check at half, we talked a lot about character and not about pointing fingers," said Oregon's Mike Bellotti of the game. "We talked about making sure we got better at what we did."

The second quarter of the game was the worst stretch the Ducks have played all year. In fact it was too reminiscent of the 2006 Ducks, the team that lost its last four games. Turnovers, penalties and mental mistakes drew shutters from onlookers and it was "on no, here we go again."

However, when the Ducks turned the Cardinal back on the first series of the second half and forced a punt, it was a sure sign something good was about to take place. In 9 second-half possessions, the Cardinal punted five times, turned the ball over on downs twice, fumbled and had a pass intercepted. Meanwhile the Ducks scored four touchdowns and a field goal.

"Each side of the ball fed off each other," Bellotti said of his offensive and defensive units. "The defense stopped them and the offense got it going, and the defense loved the fact that the offense scored points, and again I loved all of that."

Dennis Dixon was as calm as could be. Perhaps it was what he learned from baseball this summer -- that even if you have a bad at-bat, you have to come back ready to hit the ball the next time you are up.

And hit it he did.

Dixon finished the night throwing 27-of-36, 367 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also picked up 37 yards running the ball and a rushing touchdown.

"As an offense you always want to score, but sometimes it's not like that," admitted Dixon about his team's performance. "A lot of turnovers today, and it's something that hurt us last year and everyone has that moment in their mind and says, 'hey we can't have this happen again."

Dixon's main target against the Cardinal was Cameron Colvin, who had eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. Colvin, who has sometimes been overlooked the last couple of seasons, but due to the injury to Brian Paysinger this week in practice, Colvin's name was called to step in and be the man and he answered quite nicely.

"When somebody goes down like Brian, he was an excellent receiver, somebody has to step up and Cameron did that today," said Dixon of Colvin's effort.

Jaison Williams also was a 100-yard plus receiver with a total of 113 yards receiving and two touchdowns including one of 50 yards in the fourth quarter. Ed Dickson has become a favorite of Dennis Dixon and the Dixon to Dickson combination netted 55 yards on three catches and a touchdown.

The Ducks had a total of 589 yards of offense, including 268 yards of rushing. Jonathan Stewart did most of the damage as he had his second straight 150-yard day finishing with 160 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Stanford coincidentally had 161 yards total rushing for the game. Jeremiah Johnson showed no signs of a tight hamstring that limited his action last week as he had 14 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Ducks stopped the Cardinal from scoring in the second half even though they seemed a bit rattled during the second quarter. Jerome Boyd was the leading tackler for Oregon with 11 tackles (seven solo) and was part of a massive pile that stopped a 4th down conversion by Stanford when there was literally an inch to go for a first down. Patrick Chung had eight tackles (five solo) and an interception. Even though the Oregon defense gave up 119 yards of rushing to Anthony Kimble, most of that damage was done in the first half of play. In the second half, Stanford could not get untracked.

"We came out and played against a very good team and showed what we can do," said Stanford quarterback T.C. Ostrander. "I'm not doubting our effort, I thought we played really hard, but great teams make plays in the end and we were not able to do that."

Ostrander was outstanding throwing 262 yards on a 22-for-44 effort and had two touchdown throws. He also had one interception and the Oregon defense was able to sack him three times. Mark Bradford had six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, while Richard Sherman also had six grabs for 63 yards. Kimble had six catches too for 42 yards. Stanford finished the game with a total of 402 yards.

Oregon's special teams had a roller-coaster night. On one hand, Stewart had 150 yards in kick returns. Matt Evensen was 2-for-3 in field goal kicking, making a 26-yard and 34-yard attempt, but he missed a near pointblank shot of 21 yards. Andiel Brown nearly returned a punt for a touchdown going 60 yards, but he also fumbled a punt and that turnover led to Stanford scoring points. Kimble had 170 yards of kick returns, way more than Bellotti wants to see his special teams give up.

"I'm not happy about the way we played on special teams," fumed Bellotti after the game. "We did have some big plays, but we also had some big plays go against us. We kick off a lot. It's a fact of life when you score a lot points."

What was striking though about Oregon, even with only four games under its belt, was when some adversity in the form of Stanford roaring back to score 28 second half point and take the lead, the Ducks though a bit flustered didn't let it bother them too long. After halftime the team in white jerseys, green pants and green helmets came back in a very professional and workman like manner. They efficiently moved up and down the field and finished drives off with points.

Stanford is a much-improved team from last year. Jim Harbaugh obviously has his team excited about playing football, and for a while it was clear that the Cardinal thought they had a chance of winning. Even the Stanford students stayed around until the very end of the game hoping their team would flare up with another quarter like they had in the second. Harbaugh thought his team's performance in the second quarter was the best he's ever seen.

"I thought our team fought very hard, I probably haven't seen a better second quarter in my entire life," Harbaugh said of the game. "I thought our offense made a lot of plays and created a lot of opportunities for our team. We just need to come out and play better in the second half of games and execute better and we'll continue to improve."

Duck fans may have seen it differently and thought it was the worst they'd ever seen. However, just like in baseball, Dixon and his teammates came back up and knocked one out of the park on the way to going 4-0 in the season and 1-0 in Pac-10 competition. Stanford is now 1-2 for the season and 0-2 in Pac-10 play.

"Feels great," Dixon said of the win over Stanford. "It's a Pac-10 opponent. We can only go up and we've got to continue to do this."

Next week, the Ducks will have to have all their skills about them as they take on a top-10 team in the form of the California Bears at Autzen Stadium. It could be one of the games folks will talk about for a long time and maybe there is still another curve ball up Dixon's sleeve just for that game.

First half summary


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