2008 Civil War Oregon at Oregon State, Part II: The Best Duck Game Ever

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2008 Civil War Oregon at Oregon State, Part II: The Best Duck Game Ever

Author's Note: This is Part II of IV. Part I looked at the 112 year running history of the Civil War between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. While not intended as the definitive authority on the history, it is intended to provide greater details and an over view of this great rivalry between two of the State of Oregon's oldest public institutions of higher ed.

Part II recounts the greatest Civil War game played by Oregon to date. Part III focuses on the greatest Civil War win by the Beavers. Part IV will provide the author's breakdown of the upcoming game and his prediction of the outcome.

The Civil War is upon us. There is no neutral ground. Duck or Beaver, those are the only choices available.

It is at this time in November each year that Ducks and Beavers recall with fond memories past victories in the Great Civil War rivalry. While any win in this annual ritual is hard fought and deserving of bragging rights for at least the coming year—there are some wins that are more equal than others. 

The 2005 Civil War broke all records and at least for the moment, is considered by many Oregon Duck fans the greatest Civil War Game ever played. If by chance you missed it, here is a recap of the 109th Civil War game and some sense of what it was like.

A famous annual writing contest for composing the world's worst novel requires that entrants began with the line: "It was a dark and stormy night." Saturday, November 19th, 2005 at Autzen Stadium, was dark, but it wasn't stormy. No, it was worse. It was cold and foggy. It got even foggier as the game progressed.

It was so foggy by the end of the game, the Fox Sports Network-West 2 television cameras were unable to view the action on the far side of the field or to follow the ball as it was thrown through the air. Everyone had a difficult time following the action as it moved up and down the field.

Coming into the game Oregon was ranked 10th in the BCS, AP Top 25 and 11th in ESPN.com's Power Rankings with a 9-1 record. The Ducks had won their first three games, (Houston 38-24, Montana 47-14 and Fresno State 37-34) and lost to USC 45-13. They then won the next six: Stanford 44-20, Arizona State 31-17, Washington 45-21, Arizona 28-21, Cal 27-20 and Washington State 34-31. 

A win against the Beavers would make for only the second time that Oregon had chalked up 10 wins in a season. Also on the line for Oregon was the opportunity to go the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl, a BCS Bowl for the PAC-10 Champion.

Kellen Clemens was the Oregon senior Quarterback starting the 2005 season. In the course of seven and one-half games he racked up impressive numbers across the board. The standout from Burns, Oregon established a career completion percentage of 60.9 percent, a school record.

Clemens' 61 career touchdown passes fell only one shy of Danny O'Neil's school record of 62 from 1991-1994. Through eight games Clemens led the PAC-10 and ranked fifth in the nation in total offense (329.3 avg) while rating 16th nationally in passing efficiency.

The Oregon faithful were very concerned about the Quarterback situation going into the Civil War that cold and foggy November evening. Head Coach Mike Bellotti had announced that a little known sophomore named Dennis Dixon and better known sophomore, Brady Leaf, brother to Ryan Leaf would be sharing the snaps.

While Leaf had played in all 10 games that season, Dixon had only played in the last two and one-half games since Clemens was injured in the Arizona game.

The 109th Civil War was the final appearance at Autzen Stadium for 15 seniors, two of which didn't play because of injuries but were recognized by the Ducks. The 13 seniors playing or suited up in the game were:

DE Justin Andrews (San Pedro, CA) CB Justin Phinisee (Downey, CA)

QB Kellen Clemens (Burns, OR) OL Ian Reynoso (Seal Beach, CA)

TE Tim Day (Las Vegas, NV) ROV Demetrius Spates (Oceanside, CA)

CB Aaron Gipson (Fontana, CA) SS Anthony Trucks (Antioch, CA)

DE Devan Long (Anacortes, WA) TB Terrence Whitehead (Los Angeles, CA)

TB Niles MIttasch (Eugene, OR) WR Demetrius Williams (Pittsburg, CA)

CB Rodney Woods (Littlerock, CA)

Of the senior players, six, went on to play in the NFL: Clemens, Day, Phinisee, Trucks, Whitehead and Williams.

For HC Mike Bellotti it was his 11th Civil War as Head Coach. Oregon State Head Coach Mike Riley was completing his second season in 2005. It was, and continues to be his second stint as the Beavers HC. The Beavers came from behind to defeat the Ducks in 2004 at Reser Stadium, and then went on to convincingly trounce Notre Dame 38-21 at the 16th Annual Insight Bowl.

Here's the wire story game recap, Courtesy of SportsNetwork, Copyright 2005:

Eugene, OR -- Dennis Dixon threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns and Terrence Whitehead scored twice as the 10th-ranked Oregon Ducks defeated the Oregon State Beavers, 56-14 at Autzen Stadium in the 109th Civil War.

Jonathan Stewart returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and Aaron Gipson had a 60-yard interception return for a score for Oregon (10-1, 7-1) which has won seven straight. Whitehead ran the ball 12 times for 81 yards and had 20 yards receiving for the Ducks.

Yvenson Bernard carried the ball 33 times for 128 yards and a touchdown and Ryan Gunderson completed 22-of-43 passes for 179 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions for Oregon State (5-6, 3-5), which finished the season with two straight losses.

Oregon got on the scoreboard just 2:37 into the game after Gipson intercepted a Gunderson pass and returned it for a touchdown to give the Ducks a 7-0 lead.

The Ducks made it 14-0 just under six minutes later after Dixon connected with Whitehead for a 14-yard touchdown to cap a 10-play, 94-yard drive.

Oregon State cut the Ducks' lead in half after Bernard slammed in from two yards out on the first play of the second quarter, capping a 15-play, 60-yard drive to make it 14-7.

Oregon responded by marching 58 yards in 10 plays, culminating in a two-yard scoring plunge from Whitehead to help the Ducks re-establish a two-touchdown advantage.

The Ducks upped their lead to 28-7 after Stewart twisted his way in from one yard out to finish off a 77-yard march with just over three minutes left in the first half.

Oregon continued to pour it on after Stewart returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown to push the Ducks' lead to 35-7.

The Beavers pulled within 35-14 with 6:46 remaining in the third quarter after Gunderson hit Josh Hawkins with a two-yard touchdown pass to cap a 12-play, 66-yard drive.

But Oregon responded on its next two possessions. Dixon found Demetrius Williams on a six-yard touchdown pass with just over three minutes left in the third quarter to make it 42-14. After Dixon hit Jaison Williams on a 66-yard strike, the Ducks had a comfortable 35-point fourth-quarter advantage.

Jeremiah Johnson capped the scoring after he scampered in from two yards out with 5:52 left in the game to push Oregon's lead to 56-14.

Game Notes:

Mike Hass had 10 receptions for 107 yards for the Beavers...Oregon leads the all-time series 55-44-10...Oregon has won six straight in the series at Autzen Stadium and Oregon State has won four in a row at Reser Stadium, including a 50-21 win last year (2004). The 110th Civil War will be played on November 25th, 2006.

The 12-game slate next season has pushed the game to after Thanksgiving. The last time the game was played post-Thanksgiving was in 1982...Gunderson made his first collegiate start Saturday...With the loss, Oregon State failed to become bowl eligible for the first time in four years.

The 2005 Civil War marked the beginning of the Dixon era at the University of Oregon and he is now a rookie in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kellen Clemens is in his third year at the New York Jets. Clemens reportedly still drives a pickup with a bail of hay in the back.

With the win Oregon moved up to seventh in the next week's BCS Standings. Oregon went on to play in the Holiday Bowl on Thursday 29th and lost to Oklahoma 17-14. The Ducks' final AP Top 25 ranking for 2005 was 12th, and the same in the USA Today Poll.

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