Oregon's hopes of a National Championship wilted in the face of a stiff Stanford defense on Saturday…
Ducks Quest For BCS Title Ends in Overtime
Stanford played a hardnosed defense that stymied the Oregon offense at every turn. The two teams were tied at halftime at seven each but it was clear that the team that had the freewheeling offense all season long was not going to score at will against Stanford.
"It is tough losing but it is not always going to go your way and that's life; that's football," said Chip Kelly of the game. "It hurts everyone so badly because they have all put so much into this. It is times like these that you wish you would have the right words to say to take the pain away but there are no words to do that."
Oregon scored in the third quarter on a De'Anthony Thomas six-yard run and with the PAT held a 14-7 lead and despite winning the turnover-to-take away ratio, the Ducks could not capitalize on the Stanford miscues. Stanford's Kevin Hogan was picked off once by Erick Dargin and Cardinal lost two fumbles, yet the Ducks could not produce points off the turnovers. Oregon had only one explosion play and that did not turn out the way Oregon would have liked.
In the first quarter Mariota broke off a 77-yard run but while running toward the endzone, Thomas was running along looking for someone to block, unfortunately, neither Mariota nor Thomas saw Devon Carrington coming in on the angle to knock Mariota out of bounds.
With 6:28 left in the game, Stanford started a 12-play drive that covered 78 yards and ended when Hogan found Zach Ertz in the endzone. Initially the play was ruled incomplete but a review was made and the play was ruled a touchdown. Following the PAT, Oregon had one more opportunity but as had been case for the most of the game, Oregon was unable to move the ball and was forced to punt. Time expired and the game went into overtime. Stanford won the toss and elected to go on defense. The Ducks went three and out in overtime when Marcus Mariota's pass to Josh Huff went incomplete. Alejandro Maldonado's attempt hit the upright and bounced back into the endzone and it was Stanford's ball. Even though the Cardinal was unable to move the ball more than five yards, Jason Williamson was good from 37 yards out and the Cardinal celebrated the win.
"I learned a lot, this was my first overtime I've ever played in," remarked Mariota. "I feel like as a team we grew tonight, we just have to come back Monday and work."
For the game, Stanford dominated the total offense for both teams was nearly identical with the Cardinal having the slight advantage with 411 yards to the Ducks' 405. While Stephan Taylor was the workhorse for the Cardinal rushing for 161 yards on 33 carries, Oregon spread the rushing yardage between Mariota (89 yards) Kenjon Barner (66) and Thomas (43). Mariota also had 207 yards on 21-of-37 passing and one touchdown to Keanon Lowe in the first half. Hogan had 211 yards on 25-of-36 with one TD to Ertz. Both signal callers gave up an interception.
"Our kids keep fighting," observed Stanford's David Shaw of his team. "They keep fighting all the way to the end. We knew when we were getting into the fourth quarter that we were going to give ourselves the chance to win. That's what our guys did."
Lowe was the leading Duck receiver catching five passes for 51 yards and the TD. Colt Lyerla had for catches for 54 yards while Huff also had four receptions for 50 yards.
Defensively, Oregon was led by Michael Clay (20 tackles, 10 solos) including one and half tackles for loss. Clay was also credited with a quarterback hurry. Kiko Alonso recorded nine tackles (eight solos) including one TFL and he also forced a fumble. The Duck forced a total of three fumbles and recovered two, one by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (he also forced two of the fumbles). Boseko Lokombo had the sole sack for the Ducks.
Shayne Skov was the leading Cardinal tackler with 10 tackles (seven solos). Trent Murphy sacked Mariota for Stanford's only sack, however the Cardinal had a total of nine TFLs. A.J. Tarpley had the sole pick of Mariota.
Maldanado missed two field goals in the game, one in the third quarter from 42 yards out and the last one in overtime from 41 out.
"My practice this week was exceptional so to have a game like this is a shock to me," said Maldonado after the game. "I am still replaying it over and over in my head, but I have to rebound and put this one behind me and get ready for Oregon State."
Next week the Ducks go into the Civil War hoping that Stanford stumbles against UCLA for a chance of hosting the Pac-12 Conference Championship game.
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