Defense stands tall in victory

2010-12-04T23:30:00Z Defense stands tall in victoryBy Jesse Sowa, Albany Democrat-Herald Corvallis Gazette Times
December 04, 2010 11:30 pm  • 

CORVALLIS - Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti admitted he was disappointed that his unit gave up a touchdown in the closing minutes of Saturday's Civil War in Reser Stadium.

But he expected to get over it quickly, given the Ducks' 37-20 win against Oregon State likely meant a berth in the BCS national title game.

"A little quicker than I have before," Aliotti said. "I didn't want to give up that touchdown."

Aliotti, in his fifth different decade coaching at Oregon, could feel OK about Markus Wheaton's 12-yard reception for a score because his defense allowed the Beavers six total points on two second-half drives in which OSU was inside the Oregon 10.

"I think it's always key when you can trade threes for sevens," Allioti said. "We did it last year when we went to the Rose Bowl."

For the second straight season, the Ducks held the Beavers to field goals while the Oregon offense was scoring touchdowns on the other end of the field.

OSU scored on consecutive possessions, but both ended with Justin Kahut field goals. Oregon sandwiched those drives with touchdowns, and the Ducks turned a 16-7 halftime advantage into a 30-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

"We never want to give up the touchdown. We'll take the three over the six," cornerback Cliff Harris said. "You never know how much the play you make is going to have an effect on the game until the game is over. Looking back on it now ... I would say those were tremendous jobs."

The Ducks set the defensive tone on the game's first play from scrimmage.

Linebacker Casey Matthews hit OSU quarterback Ryan Katz, who stayed on the ground before walking off a short time later.

Katz returned for the Beavers' next drive, and Oregon kept the pressure on.

The Ducks sacked Katz three times and many other times had someone closing in.

Katz finished 23 of 40 passing for 224 yards with three interceptions and two touchdowns.

"That's what you have to do in a game like this," defensive tackle Brandon Bair said of getting pressure. "If you let somebody sit and throw the ball, they're going to get some passes and it's going to be hard to beat a team like that."

After Harris' lost fumble on OSU's first punt, the Ducks made big plays on special teams as well.

Maybe none bigger than Michael Clay's 64-yard run on a fake punt in the third quarter.

Oregon was headed toward giving OSU its second possession of the second half. But the Ducks coaches saw something they liked in the Beavers coverage.

Clay took the snap straight up the middle to the Oregon State 8 on a play that originated from the Oregon 28.

Three plays later, Darron Thomas passed to D.J. Davis for a 19-yard touchdown to put the Ducks ahead 23-7.

"When you're on the road, you're trying to create momentum," special teams coach Tom Osborne said. "That play, if it doesn't work, they're going to get the ball at the (28)-yard line. To our players' credit, they did a great job executing the play, and that was a huge play for us."

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

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