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Ducks are done in by mistakes

WASHINGTON ST. 55, OREGON 16: Ducks self-destruct early, turning over the ball seven times in the first half, nine overall.

Associated Press
Published September 28, 2003

EUGENE, Ore. - When Washington State saw Oregon start to panic early, the Cougars knew they had the Ducks.

Matt Kegel threw three touchdowns and steadily guided the Cougars, who took advantage of seven-first half turnovers to win 55-16 Saturday.

Oregon grabbed national attention last week after a 31-27 victory over Michigan, but mistakes cost them Saturday. The Ducks had nine turnovers and two punts blocked.

"I could see it in their eyes," Washington State safety Jeremy Bohannon said. "They could see they were playing a tough opponent. We tried to turn the intimidation factor around on them."

Washington State, the defending Pac-10 champion, went to the air and appeared to confuse the Ducks, who had successfully stopped Michigan's vaunted rushing game.

"We were still thinking about the Michigan game, and I really don't think we were really fired up," receiver Samie Parker said. "Everyone is usually fired up in the locker room, but we were really quiet today. We were just kind of waltzing around, and I don't think we were ready to play."

Kegel completed 13-of-33 for 242 yards for the Cougars, who also got a pair of scoring runs from Jermaine Green. The Cougars' only loss came Sept.6, when they blew a 19-0 lead and lost 29-26 in overtime at Notre Dame.

"We believed in ourselves and good things happened for us," Kegel said about the change. "It was the Cougars day."

Washington State, coming off a 23-13 victory over New Mexico last weekend, struck first with Kegel's 41-yard touchdown to Sammy Moore midway through the first quarter.

Drew Dunning added a 41-yard field goal to make it 10-0, and the Ducks rotated in quarterback Jason Fife to spell starter Kellen Clemens.

But Fife's first pass was intercepted by Bohannon, and on the Cougars' first play from scrimmage Kegel hit Devard Darling with a 38-yard TD to make it 17-0.

It was the first interception thrown by an Oregon quarterback this season, and one of seven the Ducks' two QBs would have for the day.

The Ducks appeared to swing momentum near the end of the first half when Keith Lewis blocked a Washington State punt for a safety. Lewis has blocked a punt in each of his past three games.

But Oregon's renewed energy was snuffed when Fife's long pass to Parker bounced off the receiver's chest in the end zone. Parker took his anger out on a defender for a 15-yard personal foul, and Fife's pass was intercepted on his next throw.

Kegel responded, marching the Cougars downfield to set up Green's 1-yard touchdown run.

"They were getting frustrated," defensive lineman Jeremy Williams said. "They were out there, working hard and we kept getting to them and swatting their passes."

The Cougars went up 31-2 when cornerback Karl Paymah tipped a pass from Clemens to Parker into the hands of Virgil Williams, who ran the interception back 40 yards for a TD.

A blocked Oregon punt that Bohannon ran back 4 yards into the end zone made it 38-2 for Washington State at halftime.

Oregon finally found offensive success with Terrence Whitehead's 4-yard scoring run early in the second half. Green's second touchdown came from 23 yards out with 2:05 left in the third, but Oregon quickly answered with Clemens' 26-yard TD pass to Demetrius Williams to make it 45-16.

Kegel added a 13-yard TD to Troy Bienemann, and Dunning kicked a 45-yard field goal for the final margin. Oregon's tandem of Fife and Clemens, who entered leading the Pac-10 in passing efficiency, threw five interceptions in the first half.

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