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Washington State 55, No. 25 Oregon 44

September 22, 1996

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) _ Washington State did everything right in the first three quarters, then watched it nearly fall apart in the final 15 minutes.

``It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,″ quarterback Ryan Leaf said Saturday after the Cougars held off No. 25 Oregon 55-44.

``No one’s going to know how we dominated them ... we’ve never been in a situation where we’ve been up 52-14.″

Leaf completed 16 of 25 passes for 225 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for another score as Washington State built its big lead. Michael Black added 161 yards rushing and also scored a touchdown.

``If you’d have told me this summer we’d have beat Oregon by 11 in Pullman, you’d have seen a guy with a big smile on his face,″ Cougars coach Mike Price said. ``We had a real good plan offensively and defensively for three quarters, but we learned we’re an inexperienced team.

``At Temple we learned not to underestimate our opponents. This week, we learned the game is 60 minutes.″

Oregon coach Mike Bellotti wasn’t pleased with the lesson his team learned, either.

``We didn’t play good football early on, but we battled back and made a game of it. We had our opportunities offensively to capitalize,″ Bellotti said. ``I’m disappointed. ``I thought we’d taken a step forward last week and we took a step back this week in defense of the run.″

Oregon (3-1, 0-1 Pacific-10 Conference) capitalized on Washington State mistakes on kickoff returns to stage the fourth-quarter rally.

Washington State (2-1, 1-0 Pac-10) used a balanced offense _ 234 yards rushing and 225 passing _ to overshadow Oregon’s Ryan Perry-Smith. He was 21-for-46 for 291 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.

Black, a junior college transfer, rushed 28 times, gaining 98 yards in the first half and scoring on a 3-yard run in the second quarter. Leaf also plunged across for a 1-yard score.

Leaf gave credit to Black for keeping the Ducks defense honest.

``They came out and played a nickel defense. Why do you pass?″ asked Leaf, who opted to give the ball to Black instead.

``I don’t know what was in him. He was running over people, through them and around them. I could have handed off to him all night.″

After trailing by as much as 52-14 in the third quarter, the Ducks made a 27-point fourth-period run after recovering three Cougars fumbles.

Leaf threw third-quarter touchdown passes of 11 yards to Chad Carpenter, 30 yards to Bryant Thomas, and 26 yards to David Knuff. Chris Jackson caught a 3-yard scoring pass from Leaf in the first quarter.

Tony Truant made field goals of 31 and 37 yards for the Cougars.

Derien Latimer had a pair of 8-yard touchdown runs and Jed Weaver and Pat Johnson each caught 4-yard scoring passes for the Ducks in the fourth quarter. Earlier, Perry-Smith hit Dameron Ricketts on a 35-yard touchdown pass and Damon Griffin scored on a 45-yard pass play.

The Cougars scored 24 points in the second quarter, capped by defensive end Dorian Boose’s 15-yard fumble return for 31-14 lead as time expired.

The Ducks netted 471 offensive yards to the Cougars’ 459.

The victory was tempered by injuries to tight end Jon Kincaid, who was taken off the field in an ambulance after breaking an ankle. Defensive tackle Delmar Morais sustained a potentially season-ending knee injury.

The 99-point scoring total set a record for points in the Oregon-Washington State series, besting Washington State’s 50-41 victory at Eugene on Oct. 27, 1984.

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