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Clemens, Allen on same page in turning back Cardinal

STANFORD ' Quarterback Kellen Clemens and receiver Keith Allen had to make adjustments on the move to complete the pivotal play in Oregon's 16-13 victory over Stanford on Saturday.

With the Ducks trailing 13-9 and facing a fourth-and-three at the Stanford 38-yard line with less than 11 minutes left, the Ducks were just intent on getting the first down.

Stanford knew that, too.

It was an 8-yard hitch pattern, Allen said, but their cornerbacks came up and pressed, so I just took to the outside and went on a go rout.

Allen got well behind the advancing Stanford defense, and Clemens saw him.

— The great thing was that Kellen and Keith were on the same page on that one, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said.

Clemens lofted a pass down the left sidelines that Allen, stretched to the limit, caught at the 2-yard line.

The ball seemed like it was up there a long time, Allen said. I was wearing synthetic gloves, and they are a little slippery in the rain. We're supposed to switch to leather gloves in the rain, but I forgot. I switched to leather gloves after that play.

That play was enough to set up the go-ahead touchdown.

That was the turning point, Oregon tailback Terrence Whitehead said.

It could be the turning point of the season for Oregon (4-3, 3-1 Pac-10 Conference), which has won three straight and is tied with Cal and Arizona State for second place in the Pac-10.

WHITEHEAD HAS quietly become one of the Pac-10's best backs, now averaging 100.1 yards a game, and he'd be All-American material if he played Stanford every week.

He rushed for 131 yards on Saturday, the fifth 100-yard game of his career, with three of them coming against Stanford. Whitehead had 132 yards against the Cardinal as a freshman in 2002 and rushed for a career-high 172 yards and two touchdowns against Stanford last season.

He's started to do it against other teams this season. In four of the past five games, Whitehead has rushed for 98 yards or more, and he's adding a receiving dimension, too. He has 30 catches for the season, including eight against Stanford. His 51-yard reception, which came on a short dump-off pass, put the Ducks in position for a go-ahead field goal in the third period. It added up to 229 all-purpose yards on a rainy day.

He had two errors that nearly cost the Ducks, though. His fumble with 7:46 left gave Stanford possession at the Oregon 43. Two Oregon sacks took care of that Cardinal threat.

Later, Whitehead was stopped inches short on a fourth-down try at the Stanford 23 with 16 seconds left.

I think I got cheated on that one, he said.

Remarkably, Stanford nearly turned that stop into a tying field goal. T.C. Ostrander completed passes of 17 and 28 yards to put the ball at the Oregon 32 with one second left. Michael Sgroi's 49-yard field-goal attempt on the final play was on target but fell just a few feet short.

OREGON HAS BEEN the victim of sacks for most of the season, but the Ducks did the sacking against the Cardinal. The 10 Oregon sacks are believed to be a school record, and the 69 yards in losses gave the Cardinal minus-8 rushing yardage for the game.

Not included in the sack total was one that was negated because of a facemask penalty and the hit that put Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards out of the game. Just as Edwards released the ball for a 14-yard completion early in the second quarter, he was hit by Robby Valenzuela, drilling Edwards tender left shoulder into the ground. Woozy and with pain in his shoulder, Edward left and did not return.

Nine different Oregon players had a hand in the 10 sacks.

Clemens was sacked three times, but not at all in the second half, a pretty good day for a team that had yielded 20 sacks, most in the conference.

OREGON RANKED 116th of 117 Division I-A schools in penalty yardage before the game, averaging 98.3 yards per game. Ducks players have been running stadium steps during the week as a punishment for penalties, and they committed just five for 45 yards on Saturday. They had just one penalty in the second half.

ALTHOUGH HE completed

22 of 33 passes for 275 yards, Clemens' streak of throwing at least one touchdown pass was halted at 11 games in a row.

Jake Curtis covers Stanford football for the San Francisco Chronicle.