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Ducks kick away national championship dream
EUGENE Stanford used a controversial touchdown in the final minute of regulation, a sturdy defense, the Ducks' inability to kick field goals or move the ball consistently, a fumble recovery on offense in overtime and then at OT field goal Saturday night to spoil No. 1-ranked Oregon's dream of a national championship.
The 13th-ranked Cardinal won 17-14 with a 37-yard field goal in the first round of overtime at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon fell to 10-1 overall, 7-1 in the Pac-12, failing to win the Pac-12 North Division title.
The Ducks will try to regroup next Saturday, Nov. 24, in the Civil War game at Oregon State.
Stanford won the overtime toss and gave Oregon the first crack. The Ducks wound up with third-and-9 from the 24, and Mariota threw incomplete Â in one direction, as receiver Josh Huff broke the other way. So Alejandro Maldonado came on to try a 41-yard field goal, and it hit the left upright and bounced back into the end zone Â no good.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan fumbled running on second down Â but the Cardinal managed to beat several Ducks to the recovery. After one more run, Stanford's Jordan Williamson got his three-pointer to go just inside the left upright.
In regulation, Stanford fumbled away some chances. The Ducks took advantage of one fumble and went ahead 14-7 on a 95-yard drive, capped by De'Anthony Thomas' short touchdown. The Ducks recovered another fumble with Stanford threatening.
But the Cardinal (9-2, 7-1) held down the UO offense, running back Kenjon Barner included.
It was 7-7 at halftime Â a surprising defensive battle through the first 30 minutes. Stanford did its job, making it a shorter game, which helped the Cardinal compete with the high-flying Ducks.
Strong defense continued in the second half. After a Stanford punt, the Ducks faced 95 yards to the end zone, but calmly went downfield in their no-huddle uptempo offense, picking up large chunks of yardage, with QB Marcus Mariota completing six passes. He hit Will Murphy for a first down on third-and-10. Mariota hit Colt Lyerla for 17 yards on third-and-4. Josh Huff reached high for an 11-yard pass from Mariota.
Thomas capped the 16-play drive (3:20 of clock time) by scooting in for a 6-yard TD run, and Oregon pushed ahead 14-7 with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
The game seemingly continued to get away from Stanford. On a first down, QB Kevin Hogan hit Kelsey Young for 12 yards, but the receiver/running back coughed up the ball, with UO's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu forcing and recovering at the Stanford 39. But a holding penalty hurt UO's possession, and \Maldonado missed a 42-yard field goal attempt, wide right.
Later, Stanford forced another UO punt, and went on the move from its 49. Stepfan Taylor ripped off an 18-yard run as part of his 100-yard night, but he fumbled, and Oregon's Erick Dargan. It was Ekpre-Olomu's sixth forced fumble of the season.
The Cardinal made it interesting, marching behind Taylor's runs to the UO 26. On third down, the Ducks stopped Remound Wright short of the fourth down. And then Jordan Williamson missed a 33-yard field goal attempt with 8:05 left.
With 6:28 left, the Cardinal got the ball back at their 22, and began to move. Soon, Stanford had a first down on the Oregon 21. With 2:17 left, the Cardinal went for it on fourth-and-1. They got it up the middle, getting a new set of downs at the 10.
On first down, Zach Ertz caught a 10-yard pass in the back of the end zone. The pass was ruled incomplete, but the call was overturned after a lengthy officials' review. The score, with the PAT, tied the game at 14-14 with 1:35 remaining.
Oregon took the ball at its 22, and got a pass-interference call on Stanford on third-and-10. Then came a completion for a first down and a 2-yard run by Mariota to the Oregon 49 with 57 seconds remaining. Stanford stuffed a run by Barner, and Mariota threw incomplete long. On fourth-and-9, Oregon punted into the end zone, giving Stanford an opportunity with 36 seconds to go. The Cardinal chose to settle for overtime.
Defenses showed well in the first half, with Oregon gaining 231 yards and Stanford 213. Mariota had a 77-yard run (with Thomas inexplicably running with him, rather than blocking somebody), but the Ducks couldn't capitalize, as they punted three times and Stanford stopped them twice on fourth down.
The Cardinal owned a 20:16 to 9:44 advantage in time of possession, but punted four times.
After Mariota's run on UO's second drive to the visitors' 15, the Cardinal stopped Mariota on fourth-and-2.
Led by Hogan, the Cardinal drove 93 yards on 15 plays and 7:01 of clock time, and went ahead on Hogan's diving 1-yard TD run.
Another UO punt followed and, on the next drive, Mariota threw high in an attempt to Lyerla on fourth down.
Stanford had a great opportunity on fourth-and-1 at the UO 41, but Hogan, on a fake run, threw short to an open tight end Ryan Hewitt.
The Ducks took the ball and scored quickly a 22-yard Mariota-to-Keanon Lowe pass, a 9-yard Barner run and a 28-yard Mariota-to-Lowe TD passing play.
More punts, and then Hogan sailed a pass, intercepted by Dargan. But Mariota, after a 3-yard run loss where he fumbled into the hands of offensive lineman Kyle Long, returned the favor, being intercepted by A.J. Tarpley with only a few seconds remaining in the first half.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
STANFORD 0 7 0 7 3 -- 17
OREGON 0 7 7 x 0 -- 14
STANFORD Kevin Hogan 1 run (Jordan Williamson kick) 12:39
OREGON Keanon Lowe 28 pass from Marcus Mariota (Alejandro Maldonado kick) 3:26
OREGON De'Anthony Thomas 6 run (Maldonado kick) 6:35
STANFORD Â Zach Ertz 10 pass from Hogan (Williamson kick) 1:35