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No. 11 Oregon 14, No. 20 Arizona 10
Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. -- Oregon is only halfway through the Pac-10 season, but the Ducks' defense is ready to book the trip to Pasadena.

Marshaun Tucker
Oregon's Marshaun Tucker grabbed a first-quarter TD pass from Joey Harrington as the Ducks grabbed sole possession of the Pac-10 lead Saturday.

Joey Harrington threw two first-half touchdown passes, and Oregon's defense made the points hold up as the 11th-ranked Ducks earned a 14-10 victory over No. 20 Arizona on Saturday night to take control of the race for the Rose Bowl.

"I'm not even going to lie -- I'm thinking about the Rose Bowl," defensive tackle Jason Nikolao said. "Go get your tickets; we'll meet you down there."

Oregon (6-1, 4-0 Pac-10), the only unbeaten team left in the conference, won its 19th straight home game by holding Arizona to just 17 rushing yards on 32 carries.

"We knew that the most physical team would win," Ducks cornerback Steve Smith said. "I guess we were more physical."

The Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) didn't fare much better with quarterback Ortege Jenkins. He was sacked eight times, and a second-quarter interception led to a touchdown that put the Ducks ahead 14-0.

Despite their inability to sustain a drive, the Wildcats gave themselves a chance to win by driving to the Oregon 36 in the final minute. Jenkins completed three straight passes for 44 yards to Brad Brennan on the drive, which began at Arizona's 10.

Jenkins couldn't connect on four straight passes, however, and the Ducks had good coverage. On fourth-and-10 from the 36, Jenkins threw it up for grabs in the left side of the end zone as time ran out, and Ryan Mitchell knocked it away.

"We won on our strength tonight," said coach Mike Bellotti. "When it came down to the end of the game, I said, `Let's win it with our defense.' That was an unbelievable effort."

Arizona fell to 0-5 under coach Dick Tomey at Autzen Stadium, the only Pac-10 stadium in which he's never won during his 13-plus seasons with the Wildcats. Arizona hasn't won here since 1986.

"This hurts like hell," Tomey said. "It really hurts because we put ourselves in a position to win. That was just a tough-gut game between two outstanding defenses."

Oregon's home winning streak is the second-longest in the nation, behind Florida State's 33 games. The Ducks also have won nine straight Pac-10 games overall.

"We've put ourselves in the driver's seat, but we also have a bull's-eye on our back," Bellotti said.

The Ducks had trouble running the ball as well, but junior transfer Maurice Morris kept plowing ahead and moving the chains. He finished with 114 of Oregon's 137 rushing yards.

Harrington was 9-of-22 for 123 yards -- only 33 of which came in the second half. Jenkins was 15-of-31 for 200 yards.

The victory put Oregon in position to decide its destiny for the Rose Bowl, which it last appeared in after the 1994 season. Arizona, which never has been to the Rose Bowl, must hope the Ducks stumble in their final four conference games.

Oregon improved to 10-10 against Top 25 teams under Bellotti. Since the beginning of 1993 season, Arizona and Oregon have been the best two teams in the conference; both are 59-31 over that span.

The Ducks got all the offense they needed on two bullets from Harrington to Marshaun Tucker. Midway through the first quarter, Harrington bumped into Morris in the backfield, then recovered to find Tucker diving at the goal line for a 25-yard scoring play.

After Jenkins' soft pass was intercepted by Rasuli Webster at the Arizona 22, Harrington hit Tucker perfectly over the middle for a 20-yard touchdown with 7:08 left in the second.

"Both were post routes, and the safety gave me just enough room to slide it in," Harrington said.

The Wildcats cut the lead to 14-7 on a gift: Smith stumbled and nearly fell, allowing Larry Croom to take a short pass from Jenkins and run 58 yards for a touchdown.

With 45 seconds left in the half, linebacker Adrian Koch blocked Kurtis Doerr's punt, giving Arizona the ball at the Oregon 14. The offense sputtered again, however, and Sean Keel's 34-yard field goal pulled the Wildcats to 14-10 at halftime.

But Arizona got stuffed time and again at the line, and Oregon got great performances by Nikolao and defensive end Saul Patu, as well as linebacker Matt Smith.

Eighteen of the Wildcats' 32 rushes were for no gain or a loss.

"They had a good scheme and a way to attack us," Jenkins good.

Arizona's lost its best cover man, redshirt freshman Michael Jolivette, in the second quarter when he was hit hard in the head while playing defense on special teams.

Jolivette, who turned 20 Saturday, was blindsided by Wesly Mallard, lifting Jolivette off his feet and sending his helmet and chin strap in opposite directions. Jolivette, who leads the Pac-10 in interceptions with five, walked off the field with a towel to his mouth and had 11 stitches put in his chin.

His replacement, Jermaine Chatman, got burned on Harrington's second touchdown pass to Tucker.



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