Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27, 2011
Three Plays That Made the Difference: Civil War

In the final regular season game of 2011, the Ducks needed a victory in the Civil War to advance tot he Conference Championship Game. Rivalries are usually very closely contested. Between 1997-2006 the Ducks and Beavers had traded off home victories. OSU ended that streak with an overtime 38-31 victory over a depleted Ducks squad down to a 5th string quarterback. The Ducks, though, returned the favor the next year spoiling the Beavers bid for a Rose Bowl berth en route to a 65-38 win. 2009 was closer, but the Ducks again took a Rose Bowl berth away from the Beavers. Last season and this season saw the Beavers attempting to take something away from the Ducks for a change, but they were unable to do so. This year, the final score is closer than the game really turned out as the Ducks won 49-21, but make no mistake, the Ducks dominated this game from the beginning.


1st Quarter, 14:38
The Beavers opened the game with a 15 yard penalty. After a nice 14 yard gain on 1st & 25, Sean Mannion dropped back to pass and threw a very early interception to Michael Clay. Mannion, a freshman with a strong arm, was attempting to make a play early, but made a mistake misreading coverage and threw over the middle to a spot occupied by four Duck defenders. 
The Ducks won the toss and deferred. After the interception, the Ducks marched in for an early touchdown. The Ducks had successfully changed the possession game to their favor. Though it would be the second quarter before they scored again, this play set a defensive tone and let the Beavers know that it was going to be a long day and they were really going to have to work for every inch on this day.


2nd Quarter, 11:58

During the first quarter, the Ducks dominated the Beavers statistically, but were unable to turn defensive stops into touchdowns after the first drive. The Ducks had held the Beavers to 49 yards on 19 plays, just 2.6 yards per play. The Ducks led just 7-0, though, and strange things happen in rivalry games.

After a short run on first down, Sean Mannion dropped back to pass, without much pressure, Mannion was able to wait for Jovan Stevenson coming across from the right to left side. Taking advantage of broken coverage by the Ducks, Stevenson burst up the left side of the field for a 58 yard touchdown. Suddenly, the game was tied and Beaver Believers thought that the impossible had become a realistic opportunity to ruin their hated in-state rivals season just as the Ducks had done in 2008 and 2009.


2nd Quarter, 8:30
After the Beavers had tied it up, the Ducks looked to be in for a dogfight. But the Ducks took over at their own 21 and methodically marched down the field. After a brilliant third down run of 19 yards by De'Anthony Thomas took the ball inside the Beavers 20 yard line, Darron Thomas made a play fake to De'Anthony on the next play and threw a soft pass over the middle to David Paulson for the go-ahead touchdown. It was a lead the Ducks would never relinquish again. Oregon would go on to a 42-7 lead early in the fourth quarter before they would substitute liberally with everyone who was not red-shirting this season.

There were many other very important plays in the game, but these three stand out as important not only because of what they did for the outcome of the game, but because of what they will make others game plan for in the next two games.


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