Ducks poised to seize Pac-10 crown

2009-10-31T22:10:00Z Ducks poised to seize Pac-10 crownBy Jesse Sowa, Albany Democrat-Herald Corvallis Gazette Times
October 31, 2009 10:10 pm  • 

EUGENE - The kings of Pacific-10 Conference football might soon be giving up their crowns.

USC, with all its talent, could do little to slow the Oregon offense Saturday. The seven-time Pac-10 champs had no answer.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and the Ducks piled up 613 yards in No. 10 Oregon's 47-20 win against the No. 4 Trojans at Autzen Stadium to stay alone on top of the Pac-10 standings with four games remaining.

The shocking result leaves Oregon (7-1, 5-0) in control of its own destiny en route to a potential Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl berth. USC (6-2, 3-2) is now two games back in the standings.

"They're kind of the benchmark that everybody is shooting for," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "To beat USC, it's tremendous because of the reputation that football program has."

It was score-for-score throughout the first half, but it was the Ducks who took control in the last two quarters. Oregon outscored USC 23-3 in the second half.

The Ducks scored on their first four possession of the second half. A Morgan Flint field goal with eight minutes remaining in the game made it 44-20. Flint added another field goal late.

On the biggest of nights so far this season, Masoli and the Oregon offense came up huge.

Masoli was 19 of 31 passing for 222 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 164 yards and a score on 13 carries.

"You can't say enough about the O-line play and how they handled themselves tonight," Masoli said.

Redshirt freshman running back LaMichael James rushed for a season-best 183 yards on 24 carries.

"I don't really care about statistics," James said. "I don't care if I have two yards. If we win, I'm happy."

The Oregon defense and special teams didn't produce the plethora of game-changing plays they had in the Ducks' first seven games. But they did enough to slow down the Trojans, particularly in the second half.

USC could manage just three points and 136 yards in the second half.

The Trojans, carried by their defense throughout their conference championship run, had appeared to be vulnerable earlier in the season. Oregon had no problem finding the weaknesses.

USC led the conference and was fifth in the nation in rushing defense at about 80 yards per game entering Saturday's contest.

But Oregon had almost doubled that average by halftime with 158. And the Ducks continued to roll in the second half. Oregon finished with 391 rushing yards.

The teams traded field goals to start the game.

USC scored first on a Jordan Congdon 28-yarder and Oregon answered with Flint from 33 yards. Flint's kick was set up by a 77-yard kickoff return by Kenjon Barner.

The Ducks went ahead on their next drive, capping a 13-play, 78-yard possession with a 3-yard Masoli run.

Back and forth they went.

USC came back to tie it, set up by Oregon receiver Jeff Maehl's fumble as the Trojans took possession in Ducks territory. Quarterback Matt Barkley hit Rob Johnson with a 3-yard touchdown pass.

Oregon answered with a 6-play 56-yard drive that Andre Crenshaw finished with a 1-yard touchdown run to go back ahead 17-10 with 8:39 left in the second quarter.

The teams traded touchdowns before halftime, first with USC on a 4-yard pass from Barkley to Williams. Oregon took just four plays to go 80 yards, with Masoli hitting Jamere Holland for a 19-yard touchdown pass to give the Ducks a 24-17 halftime lead.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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