Ducks Comeback for 44-41 Double Overtime Win

Tucson -- It's hard to call what happen a miracle because if you listen and believe what Oregon Ducks players and coaches say, coming back in overtime is something that is a result of attention to detail and finishing. Oregon pulled out a 44-41 win over Arizona to cinch at least a share of the Pac-10 Championship and with a win over Oregon State next week – a trip to the Rose Bowl.

(PHOTO) Jeremiah Masoli (8) breaks two tackles as he plows into the endzone for the 44-41 double overtime win over Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009. (Photo by Chris Wilson)

"It was a whole team effort that we put together," observed Jeff Maehl. "Being down 10 points in the fourth quarter and coming back and them scoring so quick like that, and for us to put a drive together at the end, it just shows the true character of our team."

Character and lots of it were needed in the fourth quarter as the Ducks had found themselves 17-14. At the start of the final stanza and with the Wildcats pushing the lead to 24-14 and a packed house of 57,883 screaming fans, it looked like all of Oregon's hard work was going to go for naught. However, the Oregon offense led by Jeremiah Masoli moved the ball on a 10 play, 79 yard drive that was finished off when Masoli ran the ball in from the 1. The Ducks got the ball back on the next drive when the Duck defense held UA to 3-and-out and when Arizona punter Keenyn Crier kicked the punt out at the Arizona 45 the Ducks were back in business. Oregon couldn't put the ball into the endzone but Morgan Flint booted a 43-yard attempt and the game was tied. Momentum seemed to be in Oregon's camp.

But not for long.

On the next drive it took Nick Foles only one snap to find Juron Criner for an explosion play amounting to 71 yards and a touchdown and Arizona seemed clearly in the drivers' seat.

The Wildcats got the ball back after Oregon's offense sputtered on the ensuing possession and started a drive from the Oregon 44 that look for all intent and purposes to be lights out for the Ducks. That's until Talmadge Jackson III step up and picked off a Foles pass in the end zone.

With 3:11 left on the game clock, one of the most remarkable comebacks in Oregon history occurred. Aided by a completion of nine to Maehl, two runs by Masoli of 2 and 6 yards, then a follow up run by James of 7, Oregon was back near midfield. Masoli then hit Jamere Holland for 13 then Maehl again for 4. Unfortunately a false start moved the ball back to the Arizona 46. After missing D.J. Davis, Masoli handed off to James and the flashy freshman rolled off 18 yards to the Arizona 28 (with 1:06 left on the clock.) Masoli missed Davis again but found Maehl for 6 but it brought up third and four at the Arizona 22. Oregon called timeout and play was resumed Masoli linked up with Maehl again for seven and a first down. With just 13 seconds left to play Masoli connected with Davis for 7 putting the ball on the Arizona 15. With 8 seconds remaining Masoli found Ed Dickson in the endzone and with Flint's PAT, the game was tied at 31. UA ran the few remaining seconds off the clock and the game went into overtime.

"We knew we could move the ball on them effectively, we just put the pieces together on that final drive," commented Maehl.

Oregon lost the coin toss in the first overtime but again James was called upon and he responded by running for 21 yards. Two plays later Masoli hit Maehl for his second touchdown of the game and now Arizona had to respond with a touchdown. It took the Wildcats eight plays but they managed to score on a Foles-to-Criner hook up.

On to the second overtime.

This time the Oregon defense held firm and Arizona was 3-and-out but Alex Zendejas was good from 41. Arizona 41, Oregon 38.

On Oregon's possession it was a big pass from Masoli the Dickson covering 23 yards and Oregon was 2-yards away from the win. It took three tries but when Masoli dove in for the touchdown it gave all the scoring Oregon needed, and the Ducks celebrated the 44-41 win.

"The play took a while to develop but found me streaking up the sideline by the numbers and I had to go up and make a catch," described Dickson of the big catch in the second overtime. "I knew I was going to get hit (but) I had to make a catch."

Masoli finished the game going 26-for-47, 284 yards, three touchdowns, he also rushed for 61 net yards on 16 carries. James had 117 yards on 19 carries. Maehl had 12 catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Dickson had five grabs for 63 yards and a score. Lavasai Tuinei had four catches for 60 yards.

"He's an exciting kid and just coming into his own as a wideout," said Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly of Maehl. "He came in as a DB and we asked him to move and he did it for the sake of the team."

Masoli did fumble twice but according to James it was just a matter of coming back.

"He was incredible, he never got down even after those two fumbles," said James of Masoli. "He just stayed poised and led us to a win."

Foles had a fantastic game throwing for 314 yards on a 30-for-46, four touchdowns and one interception. Criner had 93 yards on five catches and three touchdowns while William Wright had the third touchdown reception among his five catches for 73 yards. Arizona also scored one rushing touchdown by Nick Booth on a 1-yard plunge. Greg Nwoko had 16 carries for 58 yards and was Arizona's leading rusher.

"This was a real tough loss, especially for the kids. We made a great effort, especially on defense, had the right plan, but we came up short. We definitely lost some momentum in the fourth quarter, and Oregon made some key plays down the stretch."

Defensively Spencer Paysinger led Oregon with eight tackles (seven solos) including a tackle for loss. Ward also had eight tackles (six solos). Eddie Pleasant had two sacks among his six tackles. Blake Ferras also recorded a sack. Arizona's Devin Ross was game's leading tackler with 11 (nine solos).

Morgan Flint's field goal of 43 just barely made it over the goal post, but it did. He also kicked five PATs. Zendejas had two successes (47 and 41) but missed the easiest one of 24.

All season long Kelly has not talked about bowl games or rankings, now with the last game that will decide the Rose Bowl his reaction was typical.

"It will be fun," said Kelly after asking how Oregon State had done Saturday (OS beat Washington State, 42-10.) "We're fortunate that we will be home too. It's an unbelievable experience to be at Autzen but it should be a great game."

Kelly went on to say that every week this season has been a great battle against great team and now the season comes down to the last game, the Civil War. The winner gets the Rose Bowl. If Oregon should lose the Civil War, the Ducks would make a return trip to the Holiday Bowl. Oregon State's fate should it lose would have to be determined by the outcome of Arizona's remaining games with Arizona State and USC.

An ugly incident occurred following the conclusion of the game when Oregon cheerleader Katelynn Johnson was struck in the head by an object thought to be a plastic water bottle. Johnson was taken to a local hospital for observation after she apparently fainted. Following the conclusion of the game many water bottles were thrown from the stands at Oregon players and personnel as the Ducks attempted to leave the field. At least one individual was arrested however it is unknown if the suspect had thrown the bottle that struck Johnson.

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