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November 14, 2005

Ducks stay in BCS hunt, barely

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SPOKANE, Wash. - For the second time in as many weeks, Oregon was in a wild game with its fate hanging on the shoulders of two sophomore quarterbacks. And once again, the Ducks walked away the winner after a last-second score.

Starter Dennis Dixon directed a 14-play, 73-yard drive that ate up 5:14 after Washington State had come back to tie the game, and Paul Martinez nailed a 19-yard field goal with 1 second left to give Oregon (9-1, 6-1) a 34-31 victory Saturday.

The win helped the Ducks move up one spot to No. 10 in this week's AP college football poll and keeps alive the their hopes for Bowl Championship Series consideration.

"It was a great win. It was another example of pride and poise, and very good execution down the stretch," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "I was really pleased with our young quarterbacks. They both made plays and contributed to this victory."

Dixon and backup Brady Leaf have kept the Ducks on their winning ways since Kellen Clemens suffered a season-ending broken ankle Oct. 22. It was Leaf who threw the winning touchdown pass in overtime last week in Oregon's 27-20 win over California.

Against WSU, Dixon completed 16 of 22 attempts for 197 yards and a TD. Leaf was 12-for-17 for 99 yards and a TD.

Both quarterbacks played a part in getting three quick third-quarter TDs to turn a 21-10 Washington State lead into a 31-21 Oregon advantage.

Leaf connected to James Finley on an 8-yard scoring pass to cap an 80-yard drive.

After Darius Sanders picked off Alex Brink's pass, Leaf handed off to Cameron Colvin, who ran 23 yards to make it Oregon 24-21.

Loren Langley's missed field goal late in the quarter gave the Ducks the ball on their own 32. One play later Dixon connected with Jordan Kent for a 68-yard scoring pass to put Oregon up 31-21.

After Brink hit Troy Bienemann with a 3-yard TD pass, Langley connected on a 45-yard field goal to tie it at 31-31 with 5:15 remaining, setting up Dixon's last successful drive.

Washington State (3-7, 0-7) faces the prospect of going winless in conference this season. The Cougars travel to Seattle to take on Washington in the Apple Cup next weekend.

The loss in Martin Stadium overshadowed another record-setting performance by WSU running back Jerome Harrison, who rushed for 143 yards on 28 carries and scored on a 28-yard run and a 34-yard pass from Brink.

Harrison set a Pac-10 record with 13 consecutive 100-yard games, passing J.J. Arrington of California, who set the mark of 12 last season.

Harrison also set a WSU record for yards rushing in a season, surpassing the mark of 1,637 yards set by Rueben Mayes in 1984. Harrison has run for 1,693 with one game remaining.

Brink threw three TD passes, completing 22 of 33 attempts for 283 yards. He also threw two interceptions. It was the fourth game the Cougars lost this year after being ahead or tied at the half.

Oregon ends its regular season at home next week in the annual Civil War game against Oregon State.

For more coverage of the Oregon Ducks, check out DuckSportsAuthority.com.

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