Johnson steals show at Civil War
Commentary by Randy Hammericksen
EUGENE -- Oregon's Pat Johnson saved his best for the last game.
At least, in the regular season.
The senior wide receiver looks like's he's on his way to the NFL nextyear. Saturday, he put on a performance for the ages, scoring four touchdownsin a variety of ways, spurring the Ducks over Oregon State 48-30 in theCivil War at Autzen Stadium.
You bet it's the best game of my career, said Johnson. Ifeel better today than I did in the Rose Bowl game (1995).
Johnson scored three of his touchdowns on pass receptions of 36, 45 and90 yards. He did the rest on special teams, returning a punt 74 yards fora touchdown in the third quarter.
I wasn't trying to think of a lot of ways to score in my last gameat home, said Johnson. It just happened. Actually, I was disappointedand kind of moping around this morning because it was my last game, at leastat home. All I could do was go out and give it my all today, and not worryabout it being my last game.
Johnson totaled 337 all-purpose yards, falling just — yard shy of theschool's single-game record of 338 yards by Bobby Moore (now Amhad Rashad)in 1971 against Utah.
Right now, all I care about is winning, said Johnson. Someday, I'll look back on all of my numbers. You just saw a small portion ofwhat I can do today. I've worked so hard to get better at catching the balland making plays. I hope to be able to take it to the NFL.
While Johnson was catching six passes for 199 yards and displaying hisintimidating speed to the Beavers one more time, Oregon's arsenal of big-playmakers complemented his contributions.
Oregon quarterback Akili Smith completed 9 of 16 passes for 137 yardsand three touchdowns, while Saladin McCullough rushed for 156 yards on 36carries.
Oregon started quickly when Johnson caught a 36-yard touchdown pass fromSmith, McCullough ran 19 yards for a touchdown and Tony Hartley caught a21-yard pass from Smith as Oregon took a 20-3 lead with 1:57 left in thefirst quarter.
Johnson, who was branded a track guy when he arrived at Oregonfour years ago, disproved the theory emphatically as the Ducks concludedtheir regular season with a 6-5 record and made themselves eligible fora bowl bid in the process.
I don't have any regrets about waiting maybe too long to get seriousabout football, said Johnson, who came to Oregon as a track and fieldsprinter and won the Pac-10 400-meter title in 1995 as a freshman. Let'sjust say now I'm a football guy. It took a while, but it worked out.
Oregon athletic director Bill Moos says the Ducks are interested in hearingfrom any bowl committees. Moos says the most interest has come from theInsight.com Bowl, formerly known as the Copper Bowl, Dec. 27 in Tucson,Ariz, the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec.
20; Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26 in Pontiac, Mich.; and the Sports HumanitarianBowl on Dec. 29 in Boise, Idaho.
Moos said the Aloha Bowl is apparently waiting to pick Southern Californiaout of the Pac-10.
I can't help it that there are so many more television sets inthe Los Angeles than Eugene, said Moos. Nothing I can do aboutthat one.
Oregon needed most of its big plays to hold off a game Oregon State team.
We never gave up, and I'm proud of our kids, said OregonState coach Mike Riley. We gave up a lot of big plays but we hungin.
Pat Johnson was a killer today. You have to give him credit. He madesome huge plays.
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti could only hope he hasn't seen Johnson playhis last game.
We deserve to go to a bowl game, said Bellotti. Wehave some exciting players.
Patrick is going to the next level, but I'd like to see him getto play one more game here.
Randy Hammericksen is the Mail Tribune's sports columnist. He can bereached at 776-4499.