"There were fans spitting on us, hitting us in the back," said Oregon defensive end Jason Nikolao last week. "Little kids, women, old people, pointing at us in the face. I wasn't going to hit a woman or slap a little kid or an old man. But I wanted somebody my age to pop off, because I wanted to knock somebody out, I was so mad."
Harrington said he would "never, ever forget" how the Ducks were "degraded" that night. He called the events of the 1998 Civil War "the most humiliating experience of my life"—a statement he may wish to amend after Saturday's six-turnover performance. (He also coughed up a fumble.)
The Ducks' criticizing the Beavers for inadequate crowd control is like Eminem chastising Trent Reznor for graphic lyrics. Crowd control at Oregon's Autzen Stadium is consistently atrocious, in part because fans come onto the field to exit the stadium.
Unruly mobs are a recurring theme in the history of this rivalry. "We beat them up there, 12-0, in 1910," said Oregon archivist emeritus Keith Richard last Thursday. "Afterward, our fans were going to the train depot. There were fights along the way, more fights on the train." The Boards of Regents at both schools conducted investigations and suspended the game for a year.
It wasn't enough that the Beavers won 14-0 at Oregon in 1937. Oregon State students felt the need to return to Eugene two days later for some follow-up gloating. "Someone on campus received a call from a farmer in Junction City, saying that carloads of Beavers were on their way," said Richard. "When they entered the campus at 13th Avenue and Kincaid, they were met with high-pressure water hoses. There was a general melee."
During the 1970s and '80s the two schools played awful football that reached its nadir in the '83 Civil War, the infamous Toilet Bowl, a 0-0 tie played in a driving rain. "It was disgusting," said Richard. "A few thousand people watching a few dozen inept people do what they were trained not to do."
Oregon State lost 11 of the next 14 Civil Wars. Asked if he took pleasure in the suffering of the Beavers, Richard shook his head. "I felt sorry for them," he said. "They had been a proud program." He was referring to the Age of the Pumpkin. Recruiting running backs and quarterbacks and conscripting them into service as linebackers and linemen, Dee (the Pumpkin) Andros won 33 games from 1966 to '70. The Beavers finished second three times in that span but went to no bowls. From 1968 to 1975 the Pac-10 forbade its teams to play in any postseason game except the Rose Bowl. "That hurt us," says the spherical Andros, now 76, who remains hugely popular around Corvallis, due in large part to his record in Civil Wars. "Won nine, lost two," he says. "Of course the losses are the ones you remember."
In 1974 Andros's fullback separated his shoulder the week before the game against Oregon. Despite that injury he insisted he could play. He could play, Andros said, if he could do 10 pushups. "I went into his office, dropped down, did the pushups and said, 'See you at practice,' " recalls Dick Maurer. "Riding home on my bike I was crying, my shoulder hurt so bad." He rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the Beavers' 35-16 win.
A quarter century later, with his father and his uncle Dick watching, Marty Maurer kept making clutch plays against the team that had no use for him. On second-and-21 with just over 10 minutes left in the game, Smith faked a handoff to Simonton and hit Maurer with a 22-yard pass, moving the chains, allowing the Beavers to eat up more time. Eight minutes later Harrington threw his final interception—this one was intended for his tight end, Justin Peelle—and the Oregon State fans took up the cheer for Washington State: "Let's go Cougars!"
As the last seconds bled off the clock, a Love, American Style display of fireworks colored the Corvallis sky. Roman candles were still going off, more sporadically, an hour later, as the Maurer clan gathered outside the stadium. Andy stood off at a distance, unable to conceal his paternal pride as he watched his son mingle with well-wishers. "It's such a delight, being a dad," he said.