Philomath High's hardcore football fans know how muddy Clemens Field can get this time of the year. Remember that first-round state playoff victory a few years ago over Junction City, a low-scoring affair on a slippery home gridiron?
Well, it should come as no surprise, then, that a muddy Clemens Field had a lot to do with a 10-6 victory by Washington over Oregon State on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 8, 1968.
Excuse me? Washington vs. Oregon State at Clemens Field in Philomath?
Yes, it's true, but it wasn't the Huskies and Beavers you're thinking about. It was a game between the Pups and the Rooks — the names that the Washington and Oregon State freshman teams went by back in those days.
Washington's victory was considered to be an upset. The Pups entered the contest with a winless record while Oregon State was undefeated. But the Rooks fumbled 12 times — yes, you read that correctly — 12 times, although only lost five. But if you add in four interceptions, Oregon State had a total of nine turnovers. Heck, the Rooks even had a punt that landed 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
It's actually amazing Oregon State only lost by four points.
"The game, moved to Philomath to preserve Parker Stadium for the varsity game, was a battle of mistakes. The field, drenched by several days of rain, was a sea of mud by the second half, making the pigskin an elusive pellet that popped loose from the ball carriers 18 times during the contest," Gazette-Times sports editor Jack Rickard wrote in his game account.
Oregon State had a 15-3 edge in first downs and a 214-98 advantage when it came to total yards.
"All of the scoring came in the first half," Rickard wrote. "After that the two teams slipped and slid around, usually looking for the football in the mud."
OSU quarterback Steve Endicott had the most difficult time of it by fumbling the ball six times and throwing three interceptions.
One of those picks cost OSU the game.
"Endicott didn't enter the contest until the second quarter," the G-T reported. "His first pass try was disastrous. Trying to throw a screen pass when the receiver was obviously covered, the ball wound up in the arms of Husky defender John Fox's arms. He dashed 41 yards untouched to paydirt."
Oregon State's touchdown came on a 17-yard TD pass from Endicott to tight end Roger Kinder.
Freshman football's days were numbered in the following few years. In 1972, the NCAA made a decision to allow freshmen to be eligible to play on varsity teams. Based on the reporting of results in the newspaper, it appears that the final Oregon State Rooks games were played in 1974.