Nov. 21, 2009
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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -Jeremiah Masoli tied it with a touchdown pass to Ed Dickson with six seconds left, then won it with a 1-yard run in the second overtime as No. 11 OREGON defeated ARIZONA 44-41 on Saturday night and took a big step toward the Pac-10 title.
Masoli threw for three scores and ran for three more as the Ducks rallied from a 24-14 deficit early in the fourth quarter.
The Ducks (9-2, 7-1 Pac-10) will earn a Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl berth with a victory over No. 20 OREGON State in a winner-take-all Civil War on Dec. 3 in Eugene.
Nick Foles threw four TD passes for ARIZONA (6-4, 4-3), which was eliminated from Rose Bowl contention.
After Masoli hit Jeff Maehl for a 4-yard score on OREGON's first overtime possession, Foles hit Juron Criner with a 3-yard strike to tie it at 38-38.
Alex Zendejas kicked a 41-yard field goal to give ARIZONA a 41-38 lead in the second overtime. But OREGON answered quickly.
Masoli hit Dickson for 22 yards, and three plays later the quarterback bulled over from a yard out.
OREGON tied it at 31-31 when Masoli hit Dickson in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard score.
That came after another minor miracle for the Ducks. OREGON had tied it at 24-24 midway through the final quarter on a 43-yard field goal by Morgan Flint - a line-drive kick that hit the crossbar and bounced through the uprights.
ARIZONA took a 31-24 lead midway through the fourth quarter on a 71-yard screen pass from Foles to Criner, who outraced the defense to the end zone, fighting off two defenders over the final 10 yards.
ARIZONA appeared ready to run the clock out on its next possession. But OREGON's Talmadge Jackson III picked off a pass in the end zone, giving the Ducks one last shot.
They took over at their own 20 with 3:11 to play. With red-clad ARIZONA students ringing the sidelines, Masoli guided the Ducks downfield in 15 plays and 3:05, scoring with six ticks to spare.
Under pressure all night, Masoli ran for two scores and threw for two more in regulation.
On a 70-degree night in the desert, Wildcats faithful packed ARIZONA Stadium for one of the bigger games in school history. But this was a matchup few had circled in September.
The Wildcats were picked to finish eighth in a preseason poll of reporters regularly assigned to the conference. OREGON, meanwhile, seemed adrift after opening with a 19-8 defeat at Boise State - a loss that made national news when tailback LeGarrette Blount punched a Broncos player after the game and was suspended for the season.
Blount was reinstated this month, but the Ducks' ground attack didn't miss a beat with freshman LaMichael James, who entered the game with an OREGON freshman-record 1,193 yards.
OREGON had scored at least 40 points in six of seven Pac-10 games, including its last four, and the Ducks looked unstoppable on the game's opening possession. They marched 74 yards in nine plays, with Masoli snaking 14 yards up the middle to give OREGON a 7-0 lead.
Masoli made it 14-0 with another big play early in the second quarter. Masoli spun out of a sack, scrambled to his right and pegged the ball to Maehl, who caught it in the midst of three defenders and then dove into the end zone for a 9-yard TD.
Five plays later, Foles lobbed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Criner, who snatched the ball away from cornerback Cliff Harris in the back corner of the end zone.
ARIZONA stuffed OREGON on its next possession, and the Wildcats went 37 yards in 49 seconds, drawing within 14-10 on a career-long 47-yard field goal by Alex Zendejas as the first half ended.
ARIZONA took its first lead, 17-10, on an 8-yard run by fourth-string tailback Nick Booth five minutes into the third quarter.
The Wildcats made it 24-14 early in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard strike from Foles to William Wright 1:03 into the final quarter.
The Ducks responded with a 10-play, 79-yard march that took only 2:54. Masoli walked in from a yard out to whittle the deficit to 24-21 with 10:57 to play.
Nick Foles in Interview Room
Arizona Head Coach Mike Stoops
"This was a real tough loss, especially for the kids. We made a great effort, especially on defense, had the right plan, but we came up short. We definitely lost some momentum in the fourth quarter, and Oregon made some key plays down the stretch."
"We practiced well all week, which is all you can ask from our guys. I wish that this wasn't the outcome, but we have to move forward now, just turn the page and move on."
"We did really well tonight with getting Oregon out of their comfort zone. They've got a very good quarterback, and that is definitely what makes the difference. We just couldn't stop them in the fourth quarter. We made some very good plays and took control in the third, but it's very hard to explain how to control an offense like theirs."
About No. 8 Nick Foles... "Nick had a tremendous game tonight. He made a bunch of great throws into some really tight windows. It was a tight game all they way, and we just came up short. There's really no one to blame for the loss."
"It's really hard that we've been just one play short these past couple games. We got so close, but we just have to look at the big picture. Our players and coaches did exactly as asked. It's unfortunate that we could have gotten a different result tonight."
About next week's rivalry game... "Arizona State is a good rivalry game. We've been through a lot of tough losses, and now we just have to bounce back for this next contest. These kids are very resilient; they'll come back from this for next week."