Oct 27, 2001
By JOHN K. WILEY
Associated Press Writer
PULLMAN, Wash. - Onterrio Smith ran for a school-record 285 yards and scored three times as 11th-ranked Oregon beat No. 14 Washington State 24-17 on Saturday.
Smith, who had 26 carries, broke the 1971 Oregon record of 249 yards set by Bobby Moore - now known as Ahmad Rashad.
Smith combined with Maurice Morris for 423 yards rushing and the Ducks had 446 overall, breaking the team record of 403 yards against California in 1960. Smith also had 342 all-purpose yards to break the school record set by Moore in 1971 and matched last week by Keenan Howry.
What was supposed to be a battle of the top quarterbacks in the Pacific-10 Conference became a showcase for the running backs of Oregon (7-1, 4-1) and the Ducks' defense, which staved off a fourth quarter comeback try by the Cougars (7-1, 4-1).
The Cougars threatened to tie the game in the final seconds, but Jason Gesser threw three consecutive incomplete passes from the Oregon 8 as time expired.
Oregon's win threw open the Pac-10 championship race, as the last remaining undefeated teams were beaten Saturday. No. 4 UCLA lost to No. 20 Stanford.
Smith scored on runs of 8, 41 and 73 yards as the Ducks rolled up 565 yards of offense and limited the Cougars to 394, nearly 100 yards less than their 492 yard average.
Gesser completed 17 of 37 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. He had only 50 passing yards at halftime as the Ducks sacked him twice and pressured numerous throws. Oregon's Joey Harrington completed 14 of 26 passes for 119 yards.
Jared Siegel hit a 22-yard field goal for the Ducks.
Oregon took a 7-3 halftime lead as the Ducks held Cougars' offense in check.
Smith's 73-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Ducks the margin of victory.
Dave Minnich, returning just three weeks after knee surgery, scored on a 1-yard run to cut the Ducks' lead to 17-10 with 11:28 remaining in the fourth.
After connecting with Mike Bush on a 63-yard pass play, Gesser hit Jerome Riley on a 15-yard scoring strike for the Cougars' final score, making it 24-17 with 4:25 remaining in the fourth.
Drew Dunning hit a 34 yard field goal for WSU.
The Cougars kept the Oregon kick return specialists in check. The Ducks gained 21 yards on five punt returns and 57 yards on three returns of kickoffs. Oregon had averaged 17 yards per punt return.
Morris carried 19 times for 138 yards before leaving the game with a left hamstring injury at the end of the third period.
Washington State's scoring duo of wide receivers Nakoa McElrath and Mike Bush were limited to less than 100 yards apiece. McElrath finished with 7 catches for 87 yards, while Bush had 95 yards on 4 catches.
The Ducks won their fourth consecutive game against the Cougars, including the last two at Martin Stadium.