Nov. 18, 2000
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- With almost cruel quickness, Oregon State crushed the Rose Bowl hopes of its intrastate rival. Then, it didn't take long for the Beavers' own dreams of Pasadena to fade.
Jonathan Smith threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to Robert Prescott, and Jake Cookus had three of his team's five interceptions as No. 8 Oregon State reached 10 victories for the first time in school history by dominating No. 5 Oregon 23-13 on Saturday in the 104th Civil War.
"When you go 10-1 at a school that has never been 10-1, and was at rock-bottom a few years ago, it doesn't get any better than that," Beavers coach Dennis Erickson said.
Oregon State (10-1, 7-1) clinched a share of the conference title with the Ducks (9-2, 7-1), but had to await the outcome between No. 6 Washington and Washington State to see whether to book its first trip to the Rose Bowl since the 1964 season.
The Huskies (9-1, 6-1) could wrap up the Rose Bowl berth with a victory over Washington State, and their 20-0 halftime lead didn't bode well for the Beavers. Even though they lost to Oregon earlier this season, the Huskies hold the tiebreakers in the event of a three-way tie, by virtue of a better non-conference record than the Ducks. Washington has the edge over Oregon State because it beat the Beavers 33-30 in Seattle on Oct. 7.
Rose Bowl or not, the Beavers finished their best season ever, just one year after they stopped an NCAA-record streak of 28 straight losing seasons. In just his second season, Erickson might have pulled off the biggest achievement of his career, taking a woebegone program to a possible berth in a BCS bowl.
"These seniors, they've been through a lot, went through some agony," Erickson said.
Meanwhile, Oregon flopped in the most eagerly awaited Civil War in 36 years.
"We're shocked right now," cornerback Rashad Bauman said. "We knew what was at stake. We knew as soon as the clock hit double-zero that the Rose Bowl hopes were gone."
On a chilly, cloudless day, Joey Harrington couldn't seem to find his receivers, falling into his habit of overthrowing them and trying to guide passes into double-coverage.
Harrington, who had been 13-1 as the Ducks' starting quarterback, completed 24 of 46 passes for 333 yards. He entered the game with just seven interceptions.
Harrington had led the Ducks back from fourth-quarter deficits the previous three games, but Oregon State's defense was too strong. Oregon got to the Oregon State 10 midway through the fourth, but Harrington was hit from behind by Sefa O'Reilly, and DeLawrence Grant recovered.
"We score, we cut it to three points," Harrington said. "We've battled back all year. ... We had a chance to do what we dreamed to do. We didn't do it."
The Ducks also committed 12 penalties for a season-high 132 yards. Two pass-interference calls against the defense - both on third and long - kept drives going for the Beavers and led to 10 first-half points.
Oregon State's Ken Simonton, the top rusher in the Pac-10 at 136.1 yards per game, gained 113, and his 20-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter extended the Beavers' lead to 23-7.
Smith completed 14 of 27 passes for 246 yards. Prescott, who y pleaded innocent Thursday to a felony assault charge stemming from a fight in July, had six receptions for 109 yards.
Cookus, starting his second straight game at free safety for Calvin Carlyle, who had a sprained left ankle, made an impact immediately.
Harrington overthrew receiver Keenan Howry, who tipped the ball into the arms of Cookus. He returned it 31 yards to the Oregon 17.
"I was getting really good reads on the quarterback, and seemed to know where he was going," Cookus said. "The breaks were going our way."
Three plays later, on third-and-8, Prescott got past free safety Rasuli Webster, and Smith threw over the middle for a 31-yard touchdown.
The Beavers began their second scoring drive at their own 12, but kept the ball moving because of a pass-interference penalty on the Ducks on third-and-10.
Three plays later, Prescott got behind another Oregon defensive back, Ryan Mitchell, made a difficult catch over his left shoulder and ran for a 49-yard touchdown.
"We've taken shots down the field all year," said Smith, wearing a white hat that proclaimed him Pac-10 champion. "I thought the key to the game was going up 14-0 and forcing them to play catch-up all game long."
Another pass-interference call against the Ducks, also on third and 13, kept an Oregon State drive early in the second quarter. The Beavers got a 32-yard field goal by Ryan Cesca out of it and went ahead 17-0, the Ducks' largest deficit of the season.
Oregon held the ball for more than 10 minutes in the second quarter, but managed just one score. Harrington directed an 81-yard drive late in the period, highlighted by a 33-yard lob to Marshaun Tucker down to the Beavers' 6. On the next play, Harrington scored on a sneak with 7:38 left before halftime.
The Ducks got back into the game when Bauman intercepted a pass by Smith and returned it to the Beavers' 30. After a 29-yard pass from Harrington to LaCorey Collins, Maurice Morris jumped across the goal line to get Oregon to 23-13 with 14:24 to go.
He was stopped on the 2-point conversion run, and Oregon didn't score again.
By LANDON HALL
AP Sports Writer