Editor’s note: In the final 20 days before Chip Kelly and the Ducks return to the field to defend their status as Pac-12 Champions, the Emerald sports desk will take a daily look back at one defining Oregon moment, play, or game from the last 20 years. Oregon Ducks radio announcer Jerry Allen provides his commentary below.
Produced by Will Rubin/Sreang “C” Hok
This moment in Oregon football is memorable just as much for the controversy and outrage that followed the contest as much as the incredible back-and-forth game that occurred. On September 16, 2006, the Oklahoma Sooners made the trek west to Autzen Stadium to hold up their end of a home-and-home series with the Ducks. The Sooners beat Oregon in the 2005 Holiday Bowl by a score of 17-14, so the Autzen faithful were out for revenge.
Led by star running back and future NFL Pro-Bowler Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma seemed in control for much of the game en route to being ahead 33-20 with just over three minutes left in the game, though it could have been more if not for Oregon linebacker Blair Phillips stuffing Peterson at the goal line earlier in the fourth quarter. Fans had started to leave the stadium to drown their sorrows following the loss, which drew the ire of Head Coach Mike Bellotti.
“I noticed some people leaving,” Bellotti said to ESPN. “I saw 10 to 15 fans walking out and I thought, ‘They’re going to be really made when we come back and win.’”
Oregon would score on the ensuing drive and line up for a do-or-die onside kick with under two minutes remaining. What happened next sparked dialogue and commentary from fans and analysts across the country. Following a scrum, the loose ball was awarded to the Ducks though it was apparent on replay that not only did an Oregon player touch the ball before it had gone 10 yards – which nullifies any recovery of the ball – but that Oklahoma had come out of the pile with the football. Replay official Gordon Riese did not overturn the ruling on the field, and the quarterback Dennis Dixon would march the offense down and score the go-ahead touchdown with very little time left on the clock.
The drama didn’t end there, as the Sooners returned the ensuing kickoff into Oregon territory and set up for a field goal attempt to win the game. As time expired, Phillips exploded over the Oklahoma kick protection and got a hand on the ball to preserve Oregon’s frantic comeback victory. Riese would later receive death threats from fans following the game and the Pac-10 suspended the entire officiating crew for their errors during the game.