Out of Gas and out of the Race.

Despite being handed two touchdowns, an inept Oregon offense and an out-manned Oregon defense fell to the Washington State 32-21. The game demonstrated why November is when the pretenders are separated from the contenders as Oregon found itself in poor field position all afternoon and the only rays of hope for the Ducks were based on miscues on the part of the Cougars.

Oregon quarterback Jason Fife had a tough outing as he threw several passes into the turf or over threw his receivers. Fife was 16 for 35 and 192 yards, one touchdown and one interception Perhaps Fife could have found a rhythm had his receivers found ways to catch the ball rather than to drop it.. George Wrighster was one of the few bight spots. The big tight end caught four passes for 75 yards. Keenan Howry also made a valiant attempt to make plays - unfortunately for him and the Ducks there were too many Cougars and too few breaks.

Oregon's only touchdown drive in the game came in the second quarter and interestingly it was Jason Willis scoring his first collegiate touchdown reception. Howry managed to keep his streak of consecutive games with a reception alive at 45. Howry finished up with three catches for 49 yards while Willis had four grabs for 35 yards and the touchdown.

The Cougar defense was especially vicious led by defensive tackle Rian Long. Washington State managed to put pressure on. Oregon also was bit penalties having 11 calls against the men in green for 133 yards.

Onterrio Smith was a nightmare for the Cougars last year, but obviously Washington State was intent on not making the same mistakes as they did a year ago and they found ways to contain Smith. Smith finished the afternoon with 64 yards rushing - his lowest output of the year. Meanwhile WSU's Jermaine Green had 180 yards on 25 carries.

Defensively, the Ducks ran out of gas in the late going of the game. Overall Oregon seemed to hold its own against quarterback Jason Gesser and the trio of tall wide receivers for WSU (Devard Darling, Mike Bush and Jerome Riley.) The Duck defense scored twice against the Cougars - once on a take away by Steven Moore in the first quarter and then Kevin Mitchell picked off a Gesser screen pass in the third quarter for a second defensive touchdown.

Realistically though, Oregon never stood much of a chance of winning the game against WSU. Gesser was too experienced and his Cougar teammates too hungry to let an opportunity to win escape them. Even though WSU failed three times to take full advantage of tremendous field position in the third quarter, it was only a matter of time before the hammer of gloom and despair would pound down on the Ducks and their fans. Oregon only trailed at halftime 17-14 and surprisingly let into the fourth quarter 21-20 resulting from Mitchell's interception and WSU being only able to realize three points of three possessions. However in the fourth quarter the Ducks finally were able to pin the Cougars deep in their own territory (3-yardline) but while all it did was challenge the Cougars to show great heart and what resulted was a 97-yard touchdown drive. That drive seemed to take all the competitiveness out of the Ducks. WSU ended up with 467 yards total offense compared to Oregon's 252 yards.

Oregon now has no chance of repeating as Pac-10 champions and must find a way to win the remaining two games of the year in order to have a win record in the Pac-10 race. Oregon's record now stands at 7-3 for the season and 3-3 in the Pac-10. Next week the Ducks can seek to assure themselves of at least finishing the Pac-10 season with four wins when they face the Washington Huskies at Autzen Stadium


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