Picture it: November 29th, 2013. Oregon and Oregon State are facing off in Autzen Stadium. Marcus Mariota is capping off a fantastic second season as a starter, the Ducks are 9-2 heading in to the day against a 6-5 Beavers squad who would love to prevent Oregon from reaching 10 wins. Mark Helfrich has had a solid first year as a coach after netting a solid recruiting class. The school looks primed to break out in the near future, but tonight the Beavers are standing in the way.
The game is tight the whole way. After heading in to the half tied at 17, the teams entered the last three minutes separated by a single point. The visitors boasted a formidable rushing attack that gashed Oregon all night long, and with 1:38 remaining in the game, Victor Bolden rushed for a huge 25 yard touchdown, putting Oregon State up by five. The Beavers failed to convert on a Sean Mannion pass attempt, leaving the score at 35-30, OSU.
At this moment, Mariota had the greatest drive of his college career. He hit several receivers for key first downs, and kept the ball out of enemy hands. With 0:35 remaining the Ducks stood at the Oregon State 12 yard line. It was second down, ten yards to go after an incompletion on first down.
I remember the stadium that night. It never got quiet, with the crowd just too excited about the tension built the entire game. The guest section would talk smack every time the Beavers made a big play, and the home crowd would return the favor every time the Ducks did something positive. With 0:35 seconds remaining, the away fans were trying their best to be loud, and the home fans were restless given the circumstances. As Mariota went to snap the ball, two receivers on either side of the formation, everyone knew that Josh Huff was receiving the pass. He was ending one of the greatest receiving nights in school history, and already had two touchdowns to his name.
He ran a post over the middle, and had a tiny bit of space in the zone, with the top defender being a tenth of a second late on reading the play. Mariota joked after the game that it was a bad throw, and Huff joked that it was Mariota’s best throw ever. Either way, the pass found Huff with just enough space to make one of the most iconic catches in Oregon football history, putting the Ducks up for good.
The stadium erupted. All of the built up tension came screaming out of the mouths of every crazed fan in the stadium. The final 30 seconds of the game felt like a formality, because it was over the second Huff touched the ball in the endzone. The incomplete two point conversion that Oregon tried didn’t matter, all that mattered was that the Ducks were winning.
For me, that is my fondest memory of Oregon football. All of the losses that would follow, including the National Championship loss the next year and the whopping eight losses a few years later couldn’t matter less when it came to that moment, Huff turning around to catch the pass that always looked like the game winner.
So, that is what takes the top spot for me. What is your favorite moment in Ducks history?
Top Photo By: Craig Strobeck
Ryan Robertson is a defense contractor for the United States Marine Corps. A lifelong Duck fan from Grants Pass, he joined the Army out of high school. After four years as an Intelligence Analyst he decided it was time to further his education and pay more attention to his Ducks. One of Ryan’s first memories is of watching the Ducks, led by Joey Harrington, beating up on the Utah Utes in 2001. He is studying to be a Human Rights Investigator for the UN and intends to attend the U of O for graduate school in a few years. His grandfather ran track at Oregon in the ‘50s. He loves the Ducks, and has a passionate interest in reading every scrap of analysis centered around the football team.
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