Ducks keep Jake Locker in check for 44-10 win
The Ducks dominated UW for a 44-10 victory. It was Oregon's fifth straight over the Huskies, the longest streak for the Ducks in the 101-game history of the series.
Seattle Times staff reporter
EUGENE, Ore. — New year, same result, and ultimately a story getting far too old for the Washington Huskies.
UW, in what is being viewed by many as a make-or-break season for fourth-year coach Tyrone Willingham, unveiled a roster with 24 true or redshirt freshmen and a revamped defense that opened in a 3-3-5 alignment.
But while the Huskies hung tough for a while, the Ducks dominated the second half to pull away for a 44-10 victory at Autzen Stadium for their fifth straight over the Huskies, the longest streak for the Ducks in the 101-game history of the series, which dates to 1900.
The loss was especially bitter for the Huskies as they hoped an offseason to prepare for the Ducks might put them in better position to end the streak.
The Huskies also appeared to catch some breaks when Oregon starting quarterback Nate Costa was injured two weeks ago, and then when his replacement Justin Roper had to leave the game in the second quarter. Oregon was also without starting left tackle Fenuki Tupou, suspended on Friday.
But ahead only 14-10 at halftime, the Ducks dominated the second half with quarterbacks Chris Harper and Jeremiah Masoli splitting time. Each was seeing his first collegiate action — Masoli a sophomore JC transfer and Harper a true freshman — but they led Oregon to 30 unanswered points in the second half.
The second-half meltdown by the Huskies was another distressing continuation of an old trend for UW, which was outscored 244-163 in the second half a year ago.
Oregon led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, but UW came back behind the arms and legs of Jake Locker to cut the lead to 14-10.
Oregon led 24-10 early in the fourth quarter when UW had a fourth-and-three at the Ducks' 46. A Locker pass fell incomplete and the Ducks scored two plays later on a 48-yard pass from Masoli to Jaison Williams and the rout was officially on. Oregon scored again a few minutes later on a 25-yard pass from Masoli to Jeff Maehl to send fans streaming for the exits and the Huskies hoping they aren't in the early stages of yet another losing season.
Oregon has won each of the five games in the series by 20 points or more, the last four with Willingham as Washington's coach.
The young Huskies — there were 10 true freshmen on the travel squad — showed signs of stage fright early on, falling behind by two touchdowns less than 10 minutes into the game.
Oregon scored easily the first time it had the ball. Jeremiah Johnson gained 48 yards on an option play to take it to 4-yard line, then scored on the next play to put the Ducks ahead 7-0 with 10:20 left. UW played the drive with three linemen and three safeties, part of new defensive coordinator's Ed Donatell's attempts at revamping a Husky defense that was among the worst in school history last season.
The Ducks scored again on their third possession, Terence Scott taking an inside screen pass 60 yards for a score on a third-and-10 play.
UW was forced to punt its first four possessions, and the Ducks appeared ready to turn it into an early rout when they took over at the Husky 26 following a six-yard punt by Jared Ballman.
But Oregon receiver Jeff Maehl dropped a pass on third down that would have given the Ducks a first down, and Matt Evensen then missed a 31-yard field goal attempt.
The Huskies then came to life, a 16-yard pass from Locker to true freshman tight end Kavario Middleton setting up a 35-yard field goal by Ryan Perkins to make it 14-3 with 12:15 to play.
Oregon was moving again when Quinton Richardson picked off a Justin Roper pass at the Washington 40.
UW then put together its best drive of the half, moving 60 yards in 13 plays and 6:23 to score on a 1-yard run by Paul Homer on third-and-goal.
Locker keyed the drive with runs of 17, 11 and 7 and also completed three of four passes.
Willingham said in his halftime radio comments that he thought his players had not adjusted to the speed of the game in the early going.
"It's very difficult to simulate in a practice session, so I think getting up to the pace of play, both offensively and defensively, was important for us," he said.
Willingham also lamented UW's inability to run the ball conventionally, saying "we're still deficient in our run game."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies