Heroic Ducks refused to be beaten
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Sports
QB Dennis Dixon cool under pressure in UO's shocking comeback
EUGENE -A few Oregon players caught an interview on the radio last week, with some guy talking about fantastic finishes for the Ducks. It was Joey Harrington.
Last Saturday, emerging star quarterback Dennis Dixon even may have eclipsed the former Duck great in the fantastic finish department with his heroics in a 34-33 win over Oklahoma. Dixon scrambled for a touchdown and hooked up with Brian Paysinger on the decisive scoring play that catapulted the Ducks to an amazing victory.
Pressure? What pressure?
'I love it. Why live? This is what you live for,' says Dixon, whose 3-0 Ducks have the week off before playing at Arizona State on Sept. 30. 'The pressure, the clock, so much going on in my head … you just have to sit down and relax and take it play by play.'
Dixon had 341 yards passing and accounted for three TDs. Coach Mike Bellotti continues to be impressed by many things on his team, including his dual-threat junior QB, who is 6-0 in regular-season starts.
'Dennis Dixon certainly came of age,' Bellotti says. 'You talk about the best quarterbacks in the country and he deserves to be mentioned.'
Similarly, it appears that aspiring star Jonathan Stewart has passed the Bellotti Toughness Test. With injured backup Jeremiah Johnson unavailable, Stewart carried 23 times for 144 yards and a short score. He also caught four balls for 33 yards. All, he says, while still nursing a 'throbbing' sore right ankle that had kept him out at Fresno State.
Says Bellotti, not facetiously: '(Stewart) has proven to the world that he can play when not 100 percent. I'm appreciative of that.'
Not to be outdone, Jaison Williams caught nine balls for 177 yards - with only one drop that may have been catchable. The Ducks greatly needed that because injuries depleted their revolving-door receiving corps.
It helped that injured Garren Strong chirped in Williams' ear throughout Saturday's game.
'He's like my older brother, a mentor type,' Williams says. 'He keeps me sane, keeps me relaxed. Lets me know when I'm messing up or doing great, but he doesn't let me get ahead of myself or modest. It's tremendous motivation. I'm also very appreciative of the offensive line.'
Max Unger, Josh Tschirgi, Enoka Lucas, Palauni Ma Sun and Geoff Schwartz played their second consecutive complete game up front. In more than 210 plays, they have missed only three offensive snaps. Talk about durability and stamina.
And, surprise, surprise, the Ducks continue to utilize tight end Dante Rosario, who had six catches for 46 yards against the Sooners.