Monday, October 01, 2007

Oregonian: Ducks report Bellotti: Players can handle tough loss


In a dramatic Pacific-10 Conference battle, the California Golden Bears (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10) took advantage of four Oregon turnovers, including a fumble out of the end zone in the final seconds, in a 31-24 win over the Ducks (4-1, 1-1).  In a game that started slowly -- Oregon led 10-3 at the half -- and played before the largest crowd to watch a football game in Oregon (59,273), the Bears used the receiving brilliance of DeSean Jackson (11 catches, 161 yards) in getting their first win at Autzen Stadium in 20 years.  The game will be remembered for the Ducks' final lunge for the goal line that came up inches short.

Quarterback Dennis Dixon, who had bounced back from throwing his first two interceptions of the season, hit Cameron Colvin near the left sideline for an apparent touchdown.

But as Colvin reached the ball toward the goal line, it was knocked loose by Cal's Marcus Ezeff and bounced out of the end zone for a touchback. The play was reviewed, but the call was not overturned.

The fumble:

Replays appeared to prove the call correct on Colvin's fumble, but it was a case of perhaps the most punitive rule in football: If the ball goes out at the 1-yard line, the Ducks keep possession; as it was, Cal was awarded the ball on the 20-yard line.  "It seems a very harsh penalty for somebody in possession of the ball for 99 yards or whatever it may be," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said.

Bouncing back:

Bellotti said he is happy with the team's mental outlook after the heartbreaking ending to a game that had obvious ramifications on the season.  "In general, the players' attitude is good, it's disappointment and frustration, but it's very positive," Bellotti said. "No finger-pointing, no anything, just coming together."  Asked if there was a moral victory, playing what is now the No. 3 team in the country so close, Bellotti said not really.   "If they're the sixth team in the country or the third team in the country, then we're fourth or seventh, we're half an inch away or six inches away from tying it up and winning the game," Bellotti said. "But that isn't the case. The reality is that we lost, and the unfortunate thing is that we contributed to our demise in a sense, and we have to live with that for a couple of weeks."  Oregon is idle this week before taking on Washington State at home on Oct. 13.

Injury report:

Just assorted dings, with the painful exception of linebacker A.J. Tuitele, a proven big-game player and one of four season-long team captains, voted on by the players.  Tuitele will have surgery early this week on a broken left foot and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. He had a stress reaction in the foot before Saturday's game, and he had to leave during the first series.


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