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CHEERS, MARCUS

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTOS JAIME VALDEZ - Mikala Souza,left, John Abreu and Matt Bush celebrate after Ducks' quarterback Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy at the Blitz sports bar in the Pearl District.The Duck Store on Northwest Couch Street was crowded with holiday shoppers last Saturday, but those who were looking for Marcus Mariota’s No. 8 jersey were out of luck. The store had sold out.

The University of Oregon quarterback, who has become almost larger than life to Duck fans, was on everyone’s mind — the Heisman Trophy presentation show was due to begin soon in New York City.

“You can’t help getting excited about it,” said Patrick Taylor. “We’re really proud of Marcus.”

His wife, Sheri Taylor, is a Beaver, but as a first-grade teacher in Gresham, she is a big Mariota fan.

“He’s a good rolemodel,” she said. “We need athletes who are good people.”

At 4:50 p.m., just before the Heisman ceremony, the Duck store was suddenly empty, as if everyone had made a beeline for their television.

Up the street at Blitz Pearl sports pub, a crowd has gathered to watch the historic announcement. The sound on the TVs is turned off, but people watch intently.

In the group are Mikala Souza, John Abreu and Matt Busch — three friends who hail from Mariota’s native Hawaii. Their eyes rarely leave the screen.

“Whenever someone from Hawaii makes it big, you rally around him,” Souza says.

At 5:50 p.m., the audio at Blitz switches from the Trail Blazers game to the Heisman ceremony, and the place is silent as everyone waits to hear whether Mariota will become the U of O’s first Heisman Trophy winner.

Then Mariota’s name is announced. Cheers erupt. Glasses clink together. You can feel how special the moment is to these fans.

“It’s awesome,” Abreu says. “A boy from Hawaii finally winning the whole thing. He’s such a humble guy. He deserves it.”

Mariota receives a few hugs, then makes his way up to the stage inside the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.

“I don’t have the words right now,” Busch says.

The pub is silent again as Mariota delivers a heartfelt acceptance speech and weeps as he thanks his parents.

When the speech ends, everyone watching claps. It’s as if they believe Mariota can hear their applause. It’s almost as if they were in New York, too, sharing the moment.

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