Cougs Outlast Oregon, 24-13
October 4, 1997
EUGENE, Ore. - Washington State exercised patience and persistence to outlast the Oregon Ducks 24-13, keeping their undefeated season alive (5-0, 3-0) and handing the Ducks their second loss of the season (3-2, 1-2).
In the first quarter, a normally prone Oregon defense held the potent Cougar offense to 30 yards of total offense with only one first down, on the final play of the quarter. Oregon's offense, meanwhile racked up 122 yards of total offense in the first quarter, but could not find the endzone nor the uprights.
On their first possession of the game, Oregon marched to the WSU 18 yard-line, but the Cougar defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt which was blocked by Gary Holmes. Holmes came through again on Oregon's second possession, nabbing a tipped Jason Maas pass in Washington State territory for the interception.
While statistics suggested otherwise, the first quarter ended in a 0-0 tie. WSU was on their way to the endzone on the first possession of the second quarter when Michael Black coughed up the football at the 21 yard line of Oregon.
After a quick defensive stop, the Cougs regained the ball at their 43. On second down and 15, Ryan Leaf scrambled free and rumbled 21 yards for the first down. On the next play from scrimmage Leaf found a fully extended Shawn McWashington, whose diving 38-yard reception brought WSU three yards short of Oregon's goal line.
Michael Black leaped into the endzone after an Oregon penalty and the Cougs went up 7-0. Oregon would try to answer, driving from their 36 yard line to the Washington State 15 yard-line. Two penalties pushed Oregon back and on fourth down and 23, Maas lofted a ball into the endzone which Dee Moronkola intercepted in front of Patrick Johnson, holding the Ducks and giving the Cougar offense one more try in the half, with less than two minutes remaining.
The WSU offense capitalized. A 25-yard pass to Chris Jackson and a 38-yard run by Black carried the bulk of the load, setting up a six-yard scoring scamper by Black.
At halftime, the Cougars were up 14-0. Oregon refused to go quietly, driving 65 yards on their first possession of the second half, to set up a 32-yard Joshua Smith field goal.
After the Cougars were forced to punt, Oregon took the football from their 33, to the WSU 14 yard-line. Then, the swarming Cougar defense forced a holding penalty, an intentional grounding penalty, and thus an Oregon punt.
Having dodged a bullet, Leaf and the offense looked to create more breathing room. The Cougars brought the ball 69 yards, to the Oregon 12, when Leaf found McKenzie for the 12-yard scoring reception.
With one quarter left to play, the Cougs were up 21-3. In the fourth quarter, Oregon made one final surge. The Ducks waddled to the WSU eight yard-line, but were held to a field goal, making it 21-6.
On their next possession, the Oregon offense went 43 yards in eight plays and found the endzone for the first and only time of the game on a 31-yard reception by Tony Hartley.
With the game now 21-13 with over six minutes remaining, Washington State needed to score or eat-up the clock to keep the win alive. The Cougs marched 66 yards in 12 plays, forcing Oregon to take its final timeouts. Rian Lindell then punched a 28-yard field goal through the uprights to put the Cougs up 24-13 with 3:33 left to play, securing a Cougar victory.
WSU's leading scorer, Black, carried for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Leaf passed for 226 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Steve Gleason led the defense with 12 tackles, 10 of them solo efforts. Todd Nelson wrapped up nine and Dorion Boose had eight, two of which were for losses.
WASHINGTON STATE 0 14 7 3 24 OREGON 0 0 3 10 13
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