Husky Notebook -- High-Flying Ducks Ponder Rose Bowl
A sign fluttered in the stands at Autzen Stadium during the Washington game. It seemed so senseless.
"I looked up and saw, `The Ducks are Pasadena bound,' " said Dameron Ricketts, the sophomore wide receiver for Oregon. "I thought, `that's nice, but it's never really going to happen.' "
The Ducks (3-1 in the Pac-10) pushed themselves squarely into the Rose Bowl race by beating Washington yesterday. They play Arizona here Saturday.
"I don't know if anybody can stop us now," said Ricketts. "This was a very, very big win."
A win next week by the Ducks, of course, could play strongly into Washington State's hands. The Cougars hold the only win over Oregon. In any kind of multiple tie, however, Arizona has the advantage because it has never been to the Rose Bowl. Oregon, which hasn't gone since 1958, is still the most recent. The Cougars haven't gone since 1931.
Penalty hurts Huskies
The Huskies' first chance to capitalize on a Duck turnover was nullified by a penalty. Herman O'Berry, fielding a punt, was stripped by Tony Parrish. The Huskies recovered the fumble, but referees ruled Parrish did not give O'Berry enough room to catch the ball. The Huskies would have had the ball on the Oregon 35.
Lost chance for Ducks
On the Ducks' ensuing drive, a misplay by freshman receiver Patrick Johnson cost them a touchdown. Johnson, a sprint champion in high school, had cornerback Russell Hairston and the rest of the Husky secondary beat to the middle of the end zone. O'Neil's pass, which was catchable, slipped through the leaping Johnson's hands. The Ducks settled for a 45-yard field goal by Matt Belden, extending their lead to 17-13.
Washington had a fourth-and-one on its 28 when punter Geoff Prince turned in what was perhaps the strangest play of a bizarre game. Late in the third quarter, Prince dropped a low snap and recovered in time to punt the ball. Instead, Prince ran left to open field and stumbled before gaining 13 yards and a first down. But the offense sputtered and Prince ended up punting again four plays later.
"I would have had to punt with my left foot," Prince said. "Coaches tell you you're an athlete, not just a kicker. I saw an opening and decided to go for it."
Kaufman's first quarters
Napoleon Kaufman's first-quarter rushing yardage in the past three games: 48 yards on five carries (Oregon), 34 yards on five carries (ASU), 103 yards on six carries (San Jose State). His 37-yard gain yesterday, which he almost broke for a touchdown, came with a minute left in the first quarter.
Kaufman's best carry: a 5-yarder in the second quarter on which he bounced outside off a defender before dragging safety Jeff Sherman five yards to the sideline.
Janoski's great catch
Best catch: Dave Janoski's 43-yarder late in the second quarter. He broke off his pattern, going deep down the left sideline, as Huard scrambled out of the pocket. Closely covered by Herman O'Berry, Janoski leaped with his back turned to the end zone, catching the ball as he fell. Patrick Kesi bought quarterback Damon Huard extra time and might have gotten away with a holding penalty. The ball was spotted on the Duck 13. John Wales later converted a 29-yard field goal.
Referee takes tumble
Best special-teams play: In the second quarter, Tony Parrish, covering on a punt, leaped 2 feet in the air at the goal line, keeping the football from bouncing into the end zone. He tumbled backward, knocking down a referee. The ball was spotted at the Oregon 2. The Ducks moved 7 yards before punting.
Huard was approached by a hostile Oregon fan after the game. Huard said he considered escalating the confrontation, but decided against it.
-- Kaufman came into the game averaging 140.6 yards per game on artificial turf, 81.7 yards per game on natural grass. . . . His 25-yard kickoff return in the second quarter was only his fifth of the season and his first since returning one against Miami on Sept. 24.
-- The Huskies had more punt-return yardage yesterday (63) than they had the entire season (46).
-- Oregon has played three nationally ranked opponents in the past four weeks. No. 14 Arizona visits Autzen Stadium next week, a rare treat. Before Washington, the Ducks had played 13 of their previous 15 ranked opponents on the road, including the past six in a row.
-- Mark Gregg, Oregon's starting center, left the game in the first half with a sprained knee.
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