Ducks Top Cougars, 51-29 in Pullman
October 10, 1998
PULLMAN, Wash. - Oregon jumped out to a 24-0 lead and never looked back, beating WSU 51-29 to move to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in Pac-10 play.
A Homecoming crowd of 37,196 watched the Cougs lose for the first time at Martin Stadium in nine games and drop to 3-3 on the season, 0-3 in conference action. Oregon proved it was ready to rumble on its first play from scrimmage when Akili Smith tossed a 38-yard pass to Damon Griffin that brought the Ducks into Cougar territory.
While a slew of penalties actually forced the Ducks to face first-and-30 during the drive, Oregon's offense was unfazed, tacking its first touchdown on the board with a 5-yard rush by Reuben Droughns. The Ducks' defense followed with a quick stop, letting only 34 second slip off the clock, before Oregon regained possession and started its second scoring drive.
This time it took only five snaps before Droughns found the endzone for the second time and Oregon had a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Oregon's defense stopped the struggling WSU attack once again to set up a Kareem Anderson punt that Michael Fletcher returned 61 yards for a touchdown.
When the final first-quarter seconds slipped off the clock, Oregon had a 21-0 lead and possession at its 41 yard line. Although the Cougars could not stop the Ducks completely, this time they forced a 46-yard field goal by Nathan Villegas to trail 24-0 with 13:33 to play in the first half.
Finally, WSU's offense responded, putting together a nine-play 71-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown dive by Jeremy Thielbahr. With WSU on the board at last, 24-7, the Cougar defense stopped Oregon before it could muster a fifth consecutive score.
But Oregon would prove to have too much firepower. Smith's 14-yard pass to Reuben Droughns and a 5-yarder to Chad Chance put the Ducks ahead 38-7 at halftime. Dee Moronkola opened the third quarter with a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but the Cougars' hopes for a miracle comeback were not to be realized.
WSU did outscore the Ducks 22-13 in the second half, but the offensive outburst proved too little too late. Droughns punished the Cougs for 217 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, adding a 14-yard touchdown reception from Smith. It was the first time since 1995 that WSU had allowed a rusher to reach the 200-yard milestone, but it was the third time this season Droughns had passed the mark.
Moronkola proved to be the Cougars' most potent threat, amassing 221 yards and one touchdown on five kickoff returns and handing Smith his third interception of the year. Steve Birnbaum and Paul Mencke split duties at quarterback for the Cougs to total 151 yards in the air on 17-of-32 passing. Kevin Brown led the WSU running attack with an even 100 yards.
WASHINGTON STATE 0 7 14 8 29 OREGON 21 17 6 7 51
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