Sports

College Football: Ducks' 'O' gains speed

SEATTLE -- Mike Bellotti's team received a perfect primer for what lies ahead.

Fifth-ranked Oregon walked out of Husky Stadium on Saturday night with a fourth consecutive win over rival Washington, backed by a record performance from Jonathan Stewart and the Ducks' running game.

And yet, Oregon (6-1, 3-1 Pac-10) was challenged into the fourth quarter, only pulling away from the pesky Huskies in the final minutes for a 55-34 victory.

It was an optimum scenario for Bellotti, especially with the Ducks' upcoming schedule with No. 9 USC and No. 7 Arizona State coming to Eugene in the next two weeks.

"This game was a vote of confidence for our team," Bellotti said. "We were challenged, and we responded."

The Ducks' response came from a running game Washington couldn't stop or even slow. Oregon rushed for a school-record 465 yards, rolled up a school-record 39 first downs and finished with 661 total yards -- 6 yards shy of another school record.

Stewart was the benefactor, getting the bulk of the carries with backfield mate Jeremiah Johnson out for the season because of a knee injury. Stewart rushed for a career-high 251 yards in 32 carries and two touchdowns, the second-highest rushing total in school history.

It was the first 200-yard performance by an Oregon back since Onterrio Smith set the school record of 285 yards against Washington State in 2001.

Stewart wasn't alone in tormenting Washington's beleaguered defense, which has allowed 1,581 yards rushing over five games. Backup Andre Crenshaw had 113 yards rushing, including 107 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Crenshaw's second touchdown run gave the Ducks a 38-31 lead.

Quarterback Dennis Dixon put himself into the mix as well, rushing for 99 yards and a score. He also threw for 196 yards and a touchdown to build on an already stellar senior season.

But like Stewart and Bellotti, Dixon passed on credit to the offensive line.

"I've got to give them all the game balls for sure," Dixon said.

Before Saturday, Oregon's potent spread offense was built around a remarkable balance between the run and pass. The Ducks were averaging 266 yards rushing and 266.5 yards passing.

Those numbers are now skewed, thanks to Stewart.

Playing before family and friends from nearby Lacey, Wash., where he was a prep star before spurning Washington to become a Duck, Stewart couldn't be slowed. Whether banging off tacklers running inside or sprinting away from defenders running on the edge, Stewart constantly shrugged off flailing Huskies defenders for big gains.

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI 33, MARSHALL 24, at Huntington, W.Va. -- Damion Fletcher ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Golden Eagles (4-3, 3-1 Conference USA) over the Thundering Herd (0-7, 0-3).

Southern Miss jumped ahead 20-0 and withstood a second-half rally to move into a tie for first place with East Carolina in the East Division.

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