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For Harrington, it was just one of those days

CORVALLIS — Joey Harrington's voice was barely more than a whisper as television and newspaper reporters crowded around him Saturday evening in a hallway near Reser Stadium.

The Oregon quarterback has had a big hand in directing the Ducks to one of their best seasons ever, but his worst nightmare will never match his experience during Saturday's Civil War.

Harrington suffered five interceptions and lost a fumble as the Ducks lost to intrastate rival Oregon State 23-13, ruining Oregon's chances of advancing to the Rose Bowl for the second time in six years.

Never mind that the junior from Portland passed for 333 yards. The telling statistic were those six turnovers.

A couple of balls were tipped but as far as I'm concerned they were all my fault, Harrington said, his voice fading further. It was just one of those days.

One of those days indeed.

The Ducks found themselves trailing 7-0 less than five minutes into the contest and were staring at a 17-0 deficit early in the second quarter.

A 33-yard pass from Harrington to Marshaun Tucker and a 6-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw cut OSU's lead to 17-7 with 7:38 remaining in the first half.

But try as they might, the Ducks could never catch up.

The six turnovers were the crippling blow, but the Ducks were also guilty of 12 penalties for 132 yards and Josh Frankel missed a field goal in the first half.

There was plenty of blame to go around for the men in green and yellow.

We didn't protect the football and we had way too many penalties, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. And you just can't spot a good team like Oregon State a big lead at their house. It makes things awfully tough.

With the Rose Bowl now out of the picture, the Ducks will bounce to a different postseason game. The Sun, Holiday, Aloha and Oauha bowls are all possibilities.

A bowl-game victory next month would give Oregon an unprecedented 10th win in one season. But the Ducks were in no mood to focus on their accomplishments in the wake of a bitter defeat.

We just lost the biggest game any of us had ever played in so, yeah, it's tough right now to think about what we've accomplished or what bowl game we might end up in, said Matt Smith, the senior linebacker from Grants Pass. We need some time to regroup.

Smith and the rest of the Oregon defense played reasonably well most of the game. They held OSU to just five yards rushing in the first half, bottling up tailbacks Ken Simonton and Patrick McCall.

Simonton wound up with 113 yards on 24 carries and squirted loose for a 20-yard touchdown run that gave the Beavers a 23-7 lead midway through the third period.

But the two players who turned the game around for OSU were a couple of walk-ons, strong safety Jake Cookus and quarterback Jonathan Smith. Cookus intercepted three of Harrington's passes while Smith fired touchdown passes of 31 and 49 yards to Robert Prescott that gave the Beavers a 14-0 lead.

Smith, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds but probably isn't any taller than 5-9 ?, looks more like an intramural team quarterback than the leader of the No. 8 team in the country.

He wasn't recruited by any Division I schools — Cal Davis and Humboldt State were the only teams that showed much interest in him.

But the junior from Glendora, Calif., walked on at OSU and, since being handed the starting job by former OSU coach Mike Riley in 1998, has won 18 of 26 starts.

I don't play the game to prove people wrong, but I'm feeling a great sense of accomplishment right now, Smith said. This team won three games the year I red-shirted, so we've come a long way in four years.

Smith and the rest of the Beavers were hoping to make it all the way to Pasadena on New Year's Day, but their Rose Bowl hopes were crushed by the Washington Huskies later Saturday.

However, a big win over the Ducks was sure to keep them happy all weekend long.