2008 Civil War Oregon at Oregon State, Part III: The Best Beaver Game Ever
Author's Note: This is Part III 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 overview of this great rivalry between two of the State of Oregon's oldest public institutions of higher ed.
Part II recounted 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.
While 2005 ended up being all about Green and Yellow, the next year was very different in just about every respect.
First, the game was played on Friday, Nov. 24, at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. Unlike the previous year at Autzen in Eugene, the weather was almost perfect for a football game, with one notable exception—it was pouring down rain. The temperature recorded a high of 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit for the day. Visibility was about nine miles with an average wind speed of about 11 mph.
Going into the game, Oregon was ranked 24th in the BCS Standings but not ranked in the AP Top 25 or the USA Today Poll. Oregon State was listed in the Others Receiving Votes for that week by the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Poll. The Polls and Rankings were once again very confused that November.
Oregon was 7-4, 4-4, coming off a 37-10 loss to Arizona 6-5, 4-4, the previous week, while OSU 7-4, 5-3, chalked up a 30-7 win over Stanford 1-10, 1-7, that same Saturday. Winning the Civil War would determine the invitation to a better, bigger, warmer bowl.
The following were the Oregon State seniors playing their last game at Reser Stadium in 2006. Each was recognized prior to kickoff:
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP)—In the pouring rain, Alexis Serna hit his 40-yard field goal and began leaping all over the field in victory, pumping his fists.
Serna has made some tough, pressure-packed kicks before, and he was last season's Lou Groza Award winner for the nation's best kicker.
But this was the Civil War.
Less than a minute later, Oregon State's defense came through and blocked a potential game-winning field goal by the Ducks. The Beavers won the 110th edition of the Civil War 30-28.
"We're certainly proud of our kicker. I can't say enough about him," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "He's a part of our great story through the years."
Oregon's Matt Evensen, put in after kicker Paul Martinez was ineffective, attempted a 44-yard field goal with 20 seconds left, but Ben Siegert knocked it down and the home team won this in-state rivalry for the 10th straight season.
"That's a difficult one to swallow in that we came back and gave ourselves an opportunity to win and our kicking game let us down," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said.
Dixon did not play.
Leaf led a fourth-quarter drive, capped by a 26-yard scoring pass to Jordan Kent and a QB keeper for a two-point conversion, that put the Ducks (7-5, 4-5 Pac-10) ahead for the first time in the game, 28-27.
Oregon State (8-4, 5-3) took the ball down to the Ducks' 22 and settled for Serna's rain-soaked 40-yarder in a driving rain. It proved to be enough.
"I just hit it and I was hoping it snuck through the left upright, and it did," Serna said.
Matt Moore completed 16 of 22 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown for the Beavers, who have won six of their last seven games.
Serna made field goals from 49, 50, and 40 yards.
Leaf completed 25 of 42 passes for 274 yards and a score. He was intercepted once.
The game went sour for Oregon on its very first series. Dante Rosario's fumble was recovered by Oregon State's Brandon Hughes and the Beavers went on to score on Moore's 11-yard pass to Jason Vandiver.
Oregon tied it at seven on Jonathan Stewart's two-yard scoring dive with 2:19 to go in the first quarter.
Oregon State pulled back ahead with Serna's 39-yard field goal.
Leaf was intercepted by Oregon State's Derrick Doggett, who returned it 34 yards for a touchdown to put the Beavers up 17-7.
Serna just barely cleared a 50-yarder to make it 20-7.
Oregon narrowed it on Stewart's 22-yard scoring run to open the second half, but his Oregon State counterpart, Yvenson Bernard, answered with a 6-yard TD rush.
Stewart rushed for a two-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter that made it 27-20. The extra point was blocked. Then Leaf found Kent in the end zone and got the two himself for an Oregon lead with 3:07 to go.
"People can say we give up or quit, but that's never been the circumstance," Leaf said. "You watch the fourth quarter of this game and you know every kid was giving it everything they had, and you have to respect that."
Nearly constant rain made the field slippery, and there were a few stumbles and dropped balls on both sides.
Moore called Serna a "stud."
"We knew if we got down there he would put it through for us and he did," Moore said. "He was clutch all day."
Evensen had made one prior field goal this season. When asked about switching kickers for the possible game winner, Bellotti replied: "Well, Paul made one kick, one extra point and missed two field goals and an extra point. So yeah, I made the change and it was totally my decision."
On his block, Siegert said the ball snapped, and he put his head down and pushed. Something hit his helmet.
"I knew it had to be the ball," he said. "At that point, I knew it was over."
Oregon's last win at Reser Stadium was back in 1996, when the Ducks won 49-13. Oregon holds the overall lead in the series 55-45-10.
AUTHOR'S GAME NOTES
Two Beavers captured Pac-10 Player of the Week Honors for their performance in the Civil War, Defensive Tackle Ben Siegert and Kicker Alexis Serna were named U.S. Bank Football Players of the Week.
The following week OSU went on to play AP Top 25 Hawaii (10-2) and came home with a 35-32 win. The win placed the Beavers in the BCS Standings and the AP Top 25 at number 24, but only number 25 in the USA Today Poll.
It also earned OSU a spot in the 73rd Sun Bowl, where the Beavs played Missouri on Dec. 29 on CBS at El Paso, Texas. The Beavers won, 39-38. Their final BCS Standing was number 21.
Of the 11 graduating OSU seniors playing in the 2006 Civil War, four went on to the NFL and are still playing in the 2008-09 season.
Matt Moore is a quarterback with the Carolina Panthers, Adam Koets is with the New York Giants, Sabby Piscitelli is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Joe Newton is with the Seattle Seahawks.
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