Season of The Giant Killers - The Civil War
November 18, 1967
The last game of Oregon State's 1967 Football Season had the Beavers travelling south to Eugene for the annual
Civil War matchup against the Oregon Ducks (2-7, 1-4 PAC). The Beavers were coming off one of the biggest victories
in school history, having defeated the No. 1 ranked Trojans of USC. The win had earned the Beavers a top 10 ranking
in the latest AP poll and solidified their 'Giant Killers' moniker for all time. If a team was ever ripe for an
upset, it was the Beavers. But as Coach Dee Andros put it, "They can call this the 'Civil' War, but this
is a war. You play this game for the right to live in the state of Oregon."
Despite their less than impressive record, the Ducks had improved considerably over the course of the season. Not that
they had much choice, having suffered the indignity of shutout defeats in games three, four, and five, two of which
occurring in Eugene. Nevertheless, they had won two of their last four games and needed little incentive to get
motivated to face the wildly popular Beavers. Oregon Coach Jerry Frei was only in his first year at the helm, but
was quietly confident that his boys could give the Beavers a game.
The defense was the strength of the Oregon squad, led by All-Conference nose guard George Dames and All-Conference
defensive back Jim Smith. By the season's end, Smith would be the top selection of the Washington Redskins in the
NFL draft. Coaching the defense was John Robinson, who was in the formative stages of a career that would lead
to a national championship at USC and nine seasons as the skipper for the LA Rams. Riding the pine for the Ducks
was backup quarterback John Harrington, the father of Eugene's favorite pianist, lil' Joey.
The Ducks won the coin-flip and - confidant in their defensive prowess and lacking confidence in their punting unit - chose to kickoff. Coach Frei's confidence was well placed, as the Beaver attack was unable to garner much yardage
on their opening drive. The situation became much more dire for the Beavers when Gary Houser's punt was partially
blocked and recovered by the Ducks on the OSU 31-yard line.
As this Duck runner discovered, short yardage situations against the Beaver defense could be a painful experience.
On their first offensive play, Duck quarterback Eric Olsen found his tight end for a 20-yard gain. A subsequent
false start by the Duck offensive line pushed them back to the 17. Beaver linemen Ron Boley and Jon Sandstrom teamed
up to knock down the next pass attempt, and the Ducks eventually faced fourth and ten from the OSU 12. The field
goal unit was called in and promptly connected from 27 yards out, giving the Ducks an early 3-0 lead.
The Beaver offense responded with surprising ease. Fullback Bill Enyart and wingback Don Summers took turns running
over and around the Duck defensive front. The biggest strike came when quarterback Steve Preece found Gary Houser
for a 32-yard gain. The big tight-end/punter made a brilliant catch, and rumbled down to the Oregon five-yard line.
Unfortunately, chants of "We want six!" from the OSU cheering section went unanswered, when on the following
play the ball was fumbled and recovered by the Ducks on the two-yard line.
Defensive pressure from both clubs prevented any further scoring opportunities in the first quarter. However, the
Beavers managed to reach midfield by the quarter's end, and as the second quarter began, an "Earthquake"
began to rumble its way toward the goal line. Led by the overpowering offensive line, the first five plays of the
period covered 44 yards and all featured Enyart pounding the ball up the middle. Once again, however, slippery
fingers proved the Beavers undoing, as the ball was fumbled away just shy of the goal line.
The remainder of the second quarter was relatively uneventful, and it looked as though any additional scoring would
have to wait for the second half. Again, though, mistakes proved to be the Beavers' undoing, as another of Houser's
punts was blocked and Oregon recovered on the OSU 48-yard line. The Ducks' newfound momentum helped push the Beaver
defenders back on their heels, as they carried the ball down to the 17. Fortunately for the Beavers, safety Charlie
Olds stepped in and intercepted a pass attempt on the OSU 13, maintaining the 3-0 score as the teams headed for
the locker rooms.
The Beavers, with their backsides likely stinging from Andros' halftime lecture, came out swinging in the third
quarter. Forcing a quick three-and-out, the Beavers took possession at their own 28-yard line. Again it was Enyart
and Summers who did the damage, moving the ball and the chains into Oregon territory. But despite the lessons of
the first half, another fumble cut short a Beaver scoring opportunity, and the Ducks recovering on their own 43.
Energized by the prospects of slaying the Giant Killers, the Duck offense had its most impressive drive of the
ballgame. A healthy dose of carries by the halfback, mixed in with some short passes from Olson, gave the Ducks
a first down at the OSU three-yard line. Football fans had become accustomed to improbable goal-line stands by
the Beaver defense, but this time the odds were just too long. Although the Beavers did manage to force a fourth
down from the one-foot line, Coach Frei wasn't about to settle for a field goal. The fourth dive was good enough,
and the extra point that followed gave the Ducks a 10-0 lead with only 20 minutes left to play.
"I remember Donny Summers came running by and said, 'Don't worry Coach, we'll get 'em.' And I said, 'If
you don't mind, let's hurry up about it. We're running out of damn time.'" - Coach Dee Andros
Still the fumbles kept occurring for the Beavers, as another miscue caused a turnover on the OSU 45-yard line.
The Ducks could only advance the ball to the OSU 30, where their 47-yard field goal attempt came up well short
and wide right.
As the final seconds of the third quarter ticked away, it looked as though the Beavers might once again defeat
themselves - much like they had in their earlier losses to Washington
and BYU. The question was, had the lessons of
those defeats left their mark? Would this team that had defeated foes no one thought they could defeat, contained
superstars no one thought they could contain, and frustrated coaches no one thought they could frustrate - would
they fulfill their post-BYU promise of not losing another game? Mistakes and a lack of focus had thwarted this
team during its losses. Poise, pride, and desire had defined this team during its triumphs.
At some point early in the fourth quarter, they discovered their answer. Recounted Preece, "Nobody talked
in the huddle at all - except once when a lineman said, 'Let's show 'em what kind of a team we are.' After that
one remark, nothing was said by anybody. The lineman just went to work and it was great."
Taking over at their own 20-yard line, Enyart and the Beaver offensive line relentlessly pounded the ball over
and through the Duck defense. On a third down and eight, Preece dropped back and hit Summers in stride for a 35-yard
gain. Then wideout Roger Cantlon broke free for one of the biggest plays of the game, earning a first down after making
a diving reception on the Oregon one-yard line. The poor Ducks really had no chance of stopping Enyart and the
offensive line from such close range. Mike Haggard came out to add on the extra point, closing the gap to 10-7 with
nine minutes yet to be played.
Wideout Roger Cantlon's diving reception on the one-yard line kept the Beavers' scoring drive alive and set the stage for their first score.
The Ducks attempted to chip away at the clock, but they were unable to generate a first down against the invigorated
Beaver defenders. Punting under heavy pressure and from deep in their own territory, the ball only carried to the
Oregon 45-yard line, where Olds awaited to make the fair catch.
The Ducks were on the ropes, and the Beavers knew it. Leaving nothing to chance, the Beavers called nine consecutive
running plays, steadily moving the ball closer to the goal line. Before long, the Beavers had a first down from
the Oregon four-yard line, and the Ducks rightfully expected another pounding by Enyart. Preece threw them a curve,
however, as he swept to the left and raced into the endzone for the score. Haggard added the extra point, and the
Beavers were on top 14-10 with only two and a half minutes left in the game.
Any chance for a Duck upset came to an end when four consecutive plays gained only seven yards and the ball was
turned over on downs.
Post-Game Comments, 1967:
"Next year let's not fool around so long."… "Oh, I'm a little tired (35 carries, 167 yards),
but I'd have been a lot more weary if we hadn't scored that last touchdown." - Fullback Bill "Earthquake"
"In my book, these are real champions. Anytime you spot a fired-up opponent ten points then come back to
win, it takes a lot of unity of togetherness. We never lost our poise; everybody pulled together, the offense yelling
for the defense and vise-versa." - Coach Dee Andros
"You certainly have to give Oregon State credit for a lot of poise. They showed it in putting together
those two drives." - Oregon Head Coach Jerry Frei
"We couldn't allow Oregon State to get outside with its options. The Beavers can score often and long if
you give 'em that." - Coach Frei on his defensive gameplan
"Oregon's defense, to take away our wide stuff was sound thinking by Jerry (Frei). The wide plays supply
the big gainers. If people give us this, I'll guarantee we can beat the hell out of people. A lot of people aren't
satisfied to take the inside, those 4-5 yard gainers. We felt we could stay inside and do the job. You must have
faith in it and occasionally you'll bust Enyart on the trap play for a good gain, or even get outside once in a
while." - Coach Andros
Next Up: Final Thoughts