7:00 PM ET, October 22, 2005
Arizona Stadium, TUCSON, AZ
TUCSON, Ariz. (ESPN.com news services) -- With Kellen Clemens, the heart of Oregon's offense, on the bench with a broken ankle, the Ducks' defense took over.
Linebacker Brent Haberly returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and No. 15 Oregon beat Arizona 28-21 Saturday despite the Ducks' top two quarterbacks being knocked out of the game on consecutive possessions.
"It looks as if Kellen fractured his ankle tonight and will have surgery [Sunday], so he'd be lost to us for the remainder of the season," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti told GameNight on ESPN Radio on Saturday night.
Haberly couldn't believe when he saw the ball come out of Mike Bell's arms.
"I was going to put a hit on him, and then I saw the ball," Haberly said. "My eyes lit up, and I grabbed it. I saw the quarterback [Willie Tuitama] out of the corner of my eye, and I knew I had to make him miss, and I did."
Blair Phillips, another linebacker, had a sack and recovered another fumble late in the game to stop Arizona's final scoring threat, and safety Anthony Trucks, the Pac-10's defensive player of the week two weeks ago, had 11 tackles, 2½ sacks and forced a fumble.
Special teams also were big for Oregon (7-1, 4-1), which had two punt blocks and a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown by Justin Phinisee.
The Ducks won for the fourth straight time since losing to No. 1 Southern California. They also won their seventh in a row over the Wildcats (1-6, 0-4).
Haberly's score 2:46 into the fourth quarter came after the Wildcats knocked out Clemens, the third-best passer in school history, and backup Dennis Dixon on consecutive possessions in the third.
Clemens was unable to put weight on his left ankle after a hard sack by Arizona's Copeland Bryan with about eight minutes left in third, and coach Mike Bellotti didn't expect the team leader back until the postseason.
"There's a slight chance he'll be back for a bowl game," Bellotti said.
Brady Leaf, a sophomore used primarily as a holder, was ineffective at quarterback most of the fourth, but after Phillips' recovery of Bell's second fumble on the Oregon 34, he completed a 10-yard pass to Demetrius Williams and a 17-yarder to Terrence Whitehead for crucial first downs to run out the clock.
Leaf finished 5-for-10 for 53 yards and an interception.
Oregon built a 21-0 lead in the first quarter on Clemens' 54-yard pass to Cameron Colvin, Phinisee's long punt return and a 4-yard run by Jonathan Stewart.
Tuitama, his redshirt season ended with four games to go out of coach Mike Stoops' concern with the offense, went 18-for-34 and two TD passes and an interception in his debut. He had four passes dropped.
"We had fundamental mistakes and need to correct them," Stoops said. "We need to learn to catch, and that will help us win games."
Bell had a season-high 158 yards on 20 carries, but his two lost fumbles sent the Wildcats (1-6, 0-4) to their fifth consecutive loss.
The Wildcats came back to it at 21-all after Tuitama came in for sophomore Richard Kovalcheck, the starter of 11 straight games. Tuitama passed 12 yards to Travis Bell for one score and 17 to Mike Thomas for another. Between those two scores, Mike Bell bolted 50 yards for a TD that produced a 21-14 halftime score.
The Ducks, at ease playing smash-mouth or big-play football behind an offensive line averaging 321 pounds, took the easy route to their three-touchdown lead.
Oregon scored 4:36 in when Colvin caught a short pass from Clemens at midfield, wriggled out of a tackle and ran untouched the rest of the way to the end zone.
The Ducks made it 14-0 on Phinisee's punt return for a score -- the first against Arizona since LSU's Skyler Green had one two years ago -- and added the third TD with 54 seconds left in the quarter on Stewart's run one play after Clemens passed 57 yards to Williams.
But the second quarter belonged to Arizona.
Tuitama replaced Kovalcheck after Kovalcheck committed his fifth turnover (third interception) in five quarters and led the Wildcats on an 80-yard drive helped by Bell's 20- and 18-yard runs. Tuitama capped the drive with his pass to Travis Bell with 12:31 left in the second.
Bell broke free up the middle and scored with 4:52 to go, but Arizona squandered a chance to tie it after picking up a first down at the Oregon 30 with about a minute left.
Trucks changed the momentum by sacking Tuitama for eight yards on first down, and Tuitama threw two incompletions before Stoops decided to punt with 26 seconds left.
"There are no 'should haves," Trucks said. "You either do or you don't. They made some plays and we made some plays, and we came out on top."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Blair Phillips recovered another fumble late in the game to stop Arizona's final scoring threat.
Gameball goes to... Arizona LB Brent Haberly, who returned a fumble 34 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Stat of the game... 2: Oregon QBs Kellen Clemens and Dennis Dixon were knocked out of the game on consecutive possessions.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-16||8-20|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||1-3|
|TD||10:24||CAMERON COLVIN 54 YD PASS FROM KELLEN CLEMENS (MATT EVENSON KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||2:46||JUSTIN PHINISEE 69 YD PUNT RETURN (MATT EVENSON KICK)||14||0|
|TD||0:54||JONATHAN STEWART 4 YD RUN (MATT EVENSON KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 63 yards.
|TD||12:31||TRAVIS BELL 12 YD PASS FROM WILLIE TUITAMA (NICHOLAS FOLK KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||4:52||MIKE BELL 50 YD RUN (NICHOLAS FOLK KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||8:11||MICHAEL THOMAS 17 YD PASS FROM WILLIE TUITAMA (NICHOLAS FOLK KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||12:14||BRENT HABERLY 34 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (MATT EVENSON KICK)||28||21|