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Highs and lows

At the center table in the overflowing Buffalo Wild Wings bar, three Oregon Ducks fans wore the moment-to-moment maturations of Monday's college football championship game on their faces like fleshy billboards advertising each individual play.

Christie Calvert, along with pals Dana and Juan Knapp, either roared, jeered or froze in disbelief as each play unfolded, living or dying from snap to snap.

"At some moments that's exactly what it feels like," said Calvert, of Eagle Point. "It's stressful."

The group did more dying than living Monday at the Medford restaurant, joining thousands of Southern Oregon Duck faithful trying in vain to root their beloved webfoots to victory, only to see a 42-20 rout by the Buckeyes in the first-ever collegiate national championship.

After a promising start for the second-ranked Ducks, the Buckeyes steamrolled Oregon to an easy victory that was an upset in Las Vegas and just plain upsetting in Southern Oregon, but not without its context.

"You know, it's not like every team gets here," Calvert said. "We may not have won the game, but at least we played in it."

And Medford threw a big party around it.

One of the night's biggest crowds was at Lava Lanes, where the bowling lanes were silent except for one young boy with a Marcus Mariota jersey rolling an 8-pounder toward the pins — perhaps because he was too young for the bar where the action was.

Some of the pregame jitters from the field in Arlington, Texas, somehow spilled into Lava Lanes, where a hefty crowd wielding plenty of Duck swag roared wildly at Oregon's every advance during the game's first possession.

When Mariota, Oregon's all-everything starting quarterback, appeared to fumble the ball to Ohio State, there were many palms pressed against many temples in nervous shock. Then a replay appeared to show Mariota's knee down before he fumbled.

"Oooh, that one's coming back," yelled Todd Evans, an armchair referee from Medford.

When the call was reversed and Oregon went on to score, Oregon alum Shawnta Soto oozed confidence under a cloth cap shaped like a duck with Goofy's ears.

"Nervous? Nope. Not at all," Soto said. "We're going to win."

But three straight touchdowns by Ohio State sent the Duck-heavy bars into a funk.

By halftime, Juan Knapp was hoarse. The center-table trio fed wings and drinks to their fears that the Ducks would somehow turtle on college football's center stage.

Knapp admitted he looked like he could pop a blood vessel in his brain damn near every snap.

"I'm intense because I can be," said Knapp, a heating and air-conditioning man from Eagle Point. "It's so much fun to get into it."

He had plenty of chances to do so early in the third quarter when the Ducks pulled within one at 21-20, but two ensuing Nut touchdowns sucked the air out of the bar.

With less than 10 minutes to go and the Ducks down 35-20, various stages of grief began to work their way through the thinning crowd.

It sped up when Mariota went down briefly with a shoulder injury, leading to a Duck punt.

"It's over, man. It's over," Ted West said repeatedly to his fellow Duck-garbed mates. "There's no way they can come back."

Ohio State proved that true, ending the game at 42-20 with the bar half-empty.

Knapp remained to provide the game's eulogy.

"We killed ourselves," Knapp rasped, nursing a bourbon. "I'll get over it.

"A couple more shots ought to help."

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

University of Oregon Duck fans, from left, Christie Calvert, Juan Knapp and Dana Knapp express their disappointment as Ohio State gains more ground Monday during the first half of the College Football Playoffs championship game, at Medford's Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell