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Bears slip away from Ducks.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

BERKELEY, Calif. - After all that, almost was all Oregon had to show for all its efforts.

No win, though the Ducks stood helmet to helmet with fourth-ranked California for 3 1/2 hours of football that kept 65,615 - often off their seats and standing - in Memorial Stadium until the final second.

No solace, either, from a one-point defeat.

`They battled. They played hard. We just didn't win,' UO coach Mike Bellotti said. `There are no moral victories. It doesn't get us where we want to go.'

Still a win short of even being bowl eligible, the Ducks were a tackle, a deflected pass and ultimately, yes, a catch short Saturday of upsetting the Golden Bears, who breathed a sigh of relief and grabbed sole possession of second place in the Pac-10 with a 28-27 triumph.

`We let a few (chances) slip out of our fingers,' UO rover Justin Phinisee said. `If we could have them back, we'd take them back, no doubt about it.'

No do-overs, here. So the Ducks didn't get a rekick on the extra point that Jared Siegel bounced off the upright of a goal post. They couldn't make J.J. Arrington turn around and start over, though his 26 carries for 188 yards certainly offered all the looks at No. 30 that the Ducks should want.

And finally, there was no down left after the 33rd pass of the day from Kellen Clemens fell to the artificial turf, after UO senior Keith Allen couldn't secure the football at the Cal 23-yard line with 1:39 left.

`You always take ownership over things you do, and I feel like I let the team down,' Allen said. `I just dropped it.'

The Ducks had taken possession of the football with 4:20 left at their own 23, after Cal's Tom Schneider was wide right with a 40-yard field-goal attempt, his second miss of the game.

Clemens converted consecutive third downs, with a run of his own and a pass to Kyle Weatherspoon, and Oregon reached the Cal 41-yard line on a 10-yard holding penalty on the Bears.

First- ... second- ... third-down passes all fell incomplete, leaving the Ducks facing fourth with 1:44 left. The options were try again for the first down, or let Siegel attempt a 58-yard field goal, one yard from his career long, and into a slight breeze.

Bellotti considered a 55-yard attempt `at the outer edge' of a reasonable attempt. `I'd feel more comfortable at 52 or 53,' he said.

Minus Oregon's two leading receivers - wideout Demetrius Williams and tight end Tim Day - due to injuries, the Ducks needed a playmaker. Who better than Allen, who had made the 38-yard reception on fourth down at Stanford to set up the winning score two weeks earlier?

Allen was open, and if Oregon hadn't gained another yard, it would have set up a 40-yard field-goal attempt for Siegel, 5-of-8 this season from 40 yards or closer. With a timeout and a hundred seconds, Oregon wouldn't have had to settle for that.

`I beat the (defensive back) real bad, so I was thinking about going to the end zone for my first touchdown,' Allen said. `It just didn't happen.'

Clemens and Maxwell ran downfield to offer an encouraging word. Other teammates followed suit on the sidelines and in the dressing room.

`I'm just out there to make plays like everybody else,' Allen said. `I don't want it to affect me for the next game, so I'm movin' on, just like the team is.'

Up next is UCLA, a game behind the third-place Ducks (4-2 in the Pac-10, 5-4 overall) but like Oregon still one short of the six wins required for bowl eligibility. Where are the Ducks after this disheartening defeat?

`No one's down, this was a game we probably should have won,' UO tailback Terrence Whitehead said. `Everybody is up right now and ready to go.'

That's exactly how the Ducks opened their upset bid Saturday, scoring on three consecutive possessions in the first quarter, though it only earned Oregon a 20-14 lead.

`I think they were shocked at how fast we came out,' Clemens said.

The Oregon quarterback had three touchdown passes in the first 11 minutes, two to Day and another to fullback Dante Rosario, who lined up on the play as a tight end himself and slipped down the sideline uncovered.

Clemens hit Marcus Maxwell for a seven-yard touchdown with 2:17 left in the first half and Oregon led 27-14.

A lesser team might have been on the ropes. Cal came swinging back. On three passes from Aaron Rodgers to Geoff McArthur, the Bears went 75 yards in six plays, and the UO lead was reduced to six points at halftime.

Oregon had put up 302 yards of total offense on the Pac-10's best defense, and still the margin clearly wasn't enough.

Cal's only score of the second half was the second touchdown pass from Rodgers to McArthur, with 13:25 left in the game. Schneider's extra point provided the margin of victory as the Ducks were blanked in the second half.

After that superlative first half of offense by the Ducks, Oregon netted only 57 yards in the final two quarters, a season low for a half, and 26 of those came on the final drive.

`They controlled the ball, kept it away from us,' Bellotti said of Cal having possession for 21:20 of the final 30 minutes. `We just didn't execute the way we should have.'

There were missing Ducks, and missed opportunities. And there was Cal.

`It's obviously going to be tougher in the second half,' Allen said. `Teams make adjustments, and it gets to be nitty-gritty time.'

It's now there for the Ducks' season ... just as it was almost there Saturday.


California's J.J. Arrington breaks away from Oregon defenders for some of his 188 rushing yards in the Golden Bears' 28-27 victory over the Ducks. C a l i f o r n i a 2 8 , O r e g o n 2 7 Keith Allen gets up slowly as Cal's Tim Mixon celebrates Allen dropping the fourth-down pass.
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Title Annotation:Sports; California rallies past Oregon in the second half to take possession of second place in the Pac-10
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 7, 2004
Previous Article:Springfield's bold move.
Next Article:Thin line between victory and defeat trips Oregon.

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