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  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Defense sends Aliotti out in style, scoring twice on interceptions

  • SAN ANTONIO — After arriving at Oregon with little money in his pocket and a Volkswagen bug stuffed with all he owned, Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti went out in style.
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  • SAN ANTONIO — After arriving at Oregon with little money in his pocket and a Volkswagen bug stuffed with all he owned, Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti went out in style.
    Aliotti's defense had two interception returns for touchdowns in leading Oregon to a 30-7 victory over the Texas Longhorns on Monday night in the Alamo Bowl.
    Aliotti is retiring after a 37-year coaching career, which includes 22 years with the Ducks.
    The Longhorns were held to 236 total yards, with their lone touchdown coming late in the first half.
    "Very happy to send Nick out on the right note," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "I think his guys were playing for themselves and certainly playing for him, being a much maligned group these last few weeks (and) coming up huge and bookending it with pick sixes."
    Aliotti's career at Oregon began in 1978 as a graduate assistant under then Ducks coach Rich Brooks. He left Oregon twice, returning as outside linebackers coach in 1988 before coming back for good in 1999 as Oregon's defensive coordinator.
    Leaving the program wasn't easy for the emotional Aliotti.
    "It's been my life," Aliotti said. "It's been my whole life. I got here in '78 as a (graduate assistant) in a green Volkswagen bug with $200, no place to live and any bit of clothes that I owned. I had no place to live. I took a chance, Rich Brooks gave me a chance."
    Beloved by his players, the defense came up with its best effort of the season as a tribute to Aliotti.
    The defense stepped up quickly, with Avery Patterson returning an interception 37 yards for a touchdown on the game's third play.
    Linebacker Derrick Malone closed the scoring with his first career touchdown, returning an interception 38 yards with nine minutes remaining. It was Malone's second interception of the season and third overall.
    "I'll remember this day for the rest of my life," Patterson said. "I'm kind of trying to hold back my emotions right now because that man means so much to me and he's done so much for this team and this program. I'm just happy we were able to send him out right and get him a W because he's done so much for us."
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    MAKING IT COUNT: Patterson didn't intercept many passes during his four-year career with Oregon, but he made the most of them.
    Patterson's seventh career interception became his third returned for a touchdown.
    The 37-yard touchdown return came on the third play from scrimmage and a minute into game. It was Patterson's first interception of the season and second-longest touchdown return of his career.
    "I was just following (Texas quarterback Case McCoy's) eyes," Patterson said. "I told Ifo (Ekpre Olomu, cornerback), I got his help. I had the inside and we kind of sandwiched him together and I was able to get lucky and get a pick."
    The converted cornerback had three interceptions in 2012, returning two for touchdowns.
    Patterson returned his first pick 34 yards for a touchdown against Washington State and then scored on a 43-yard interception return the following week against Washington. His third interception came the ensuing week against Arizona State, but he was stopped after a 34-yard return.
    So, did Patterson miss his calling as a receiver?
    "He says that all the time," Helfrich said.
    "I joke with the coaches all the time, I want to play on the offensive side of the ball," Patterson said. "But sometimes my hands aren't up to par."
    Patterson finished with nine tackles, including one solo.
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    MARCUS MILESTONE: Marcus Mariota set the career rushing record for an Oregon quarterback in just his second season helming the Ducks' offense.
    A redshirt sophomore, Mariota rushed for 133 yards on 15 carries against Texas, pushing his career total to 1,467.
    The few times the Longhorns were able to stop him came when Mariota exited the game twice in the first half for one play each after having his helmet fall off.
    His head later twisted back violently with two minutes left in the third quarter after Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat yanked the top of his facemask. Officials did not rule it a penalty, much to the disgust of Oregon's coaches, players and fans.
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    PACKED HOUSE: The 65,918 in attendance at the Alamodome was the second-largest crowd in the Alamo Bowl's 20-year history, but it was the smallest Oregon has played before in the postseason since 2008.
    The Ducks defeated Oklahoma State 42-31 in the 2008 Holiday Bowl in San Diego, Calif.
    Oregon then began a run of BCS games, playing before crowds of 93,963 in the 2010 Rose Bowl, 78,603 in the 2011 BCS Championship and 92,245 in the 2012 Rose Bowl and 70,242 in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl.
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    DON'T DO IT AGAIN: Right guard Cameron Hunt was immediately pulled from the field after picking up a personal foul for pushing a Texas defender after a play.
    The 15-yard penalty turned third-and-two at Oregon's own 33 following a six-yard run by De'Anthony Thomas to third-and-17. The Ducks were forced to punt following an incompletion by Mariota.
    Oregon coach Mark Helfrich got face to facemask with Hunt on the sideline, berating the freshman before patting him on the helmet.
    Hunt returned on Oregon's next possession and didn't commit another penalty.
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