Share “OU wonders: What happened?”

By John Helsley Published: September 17, 2006
EUGENE, Ore. — As Nic Harris retreated to the sideline Saturday, just beaten for the game-winning touchdown, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables pleaded with Harris for answers.

"What happened," Venables screamed. "What happened?"

What indeed.

Call it a collapse.

Oregon erased a 13-point deficit with two touchdowns 26 seconds apart, pulling off an unlikely rally to a 34-33 win and setting off those left from a crowd of 59,269 at Autzen Stadium.

OU led 33-20 after Garrett Hartley's fourth field goal with 3:12 remaining. But the Ducks scored their first touchdown two minutes later, then quickly struck for the game-winner after recovering an onside kick near midfield. Reggie Smith's 57-yard kickoff return gave the Sooners a shot, but Hartley's 44-yard field goal try was blocked as time expired.

"That was an amazing game," said Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart, who ran for 144 yards and a touchdown. "We believed. We believed in each other."

The Sooners couldn't believe the ending, leaving them at 2-1 and in need of an emotional rescue.

"We weren't supposed to lose the game," said OU linebacker Rufus Alexander. "That's the way we feel, our whole team and coaches."

Oh, it happened. In stunning fashion.

The Sooners trailed 13-6 at halftime, but took control in the second half behind the strong running of Adrian Peterson, who piled up 166 of his 211 rushing yards after intermission.

OU's defense had been doing its job, too, holding Oregon scoreless in the third quarter and mostly in check until the final minutes.

Then the Sooners sunk.

The drives seemed nearly uncontested:

• Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon went 4-for-4 passing for 51 yards and added two runs for 22 yards, including a 16-yard scamper for the touchdown that pulled the Ducks within six at 33-27.

• Following the onside kick, Dixon was 2-for-2 passing for 38 yards.

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