They lined up and linked arms, forming a human chain. Inside the first ring of unsmiling state troopers was a smaller one, and inside that was the north goalpost at Oregon State's Reser Stadium. Fueled by booze and the euphoria of having seen their school win a share of its first Pac-10 title in 36 years, a mob of Beavers fans hurled itself at the cops, breaching both chains and creating anarchy. A couple of smacked asses made it onto the crossbar but were dragged down by the police before either upright fell.
Add those state troopers to the list of heroes from last Saturday's latest fighting of the Civil War, a 23-13 Oregon State victory over Oregon. The list begins with Robert Prescott, the wide receiver whose pair of first-quarter touchdown catches gave the Beavers a 14-0 lead they never relinquished. It includes Jake Cookus, the former walk-on and now starting free safety who was on the receiving end of three of the five interceptions thrown by Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington. Add tailback Ken Simonton—who had 10 yards rushing at halftime but finished with 113 on 24 carries—and an offensive line that allowed zero sacks of Oregon State quarterback Jonathan Smith, and we're still a hero short.
That would be Marty Maurer from Medford, Ore., a senior tight end who makes the list not just because each of his five receptions (for 73 yards) moved the chains for the Beavers at critical times but also because he restored a reporter's faith in the malice for all of the Civil War. While some of the other players seemed to be extending olive branches ("I really don't understand the Civil War thing. I just took it as another game," said Oregon State wideout Chad Johnson; "A couple of my best friends are Beavers," conceded Oregon defensive tackle Jed Boice), Maurer recalled that this 106-year-old rivalry is built on mutual spite and genuine ill will.
"To knock the Ducks out of the Rose Bowl—it feels awesome," Maurer said after the game. "I'd love to be in Oregon's locker room right now." It wasn't a pretty sight. Harrington sat barefoot on a folding chair, whispering monosyllabic responses to reporters. The Ducks had free-fallen from the Rose Bowl to a probable berth in the Culligan Holiday Bowl in the space of a single afternoon.
Once the 10-1 Beavers had stopped dancing in their locker room—even coach Dennis Erickson let his hair down and boogied briefly—they tuned in to the Apple Cup, Washington's season-ending Armageddon against Washington State. An upset by the Cougars would have propelled Oregon State to the Rose Bowl. The Beavers didn't watch for long; the Huskies were in the process of routing Washington State 51-3 (page 50). Though Oregon State, Oregon and Washington have identical 7-1 conference records and share the Pac-10 championship, the Huskies will play in Pasadena, thanks to a complicated tie-breaking formula.
Even though the Oregon State players saw roses slip from their grasp, there were no long faces in their dressing room. "Wherever we end up," said Maurer—the Beavers hope it's the Fiesta Bowl—"we know we did everything we possibly could."
They know how many light years they've traveled. Oregon State did not have a winning record from 1971 through 1998. If Maurer's desire to observe the Ducks' suffering sounds sadistic, or at odds with his Christian upbringing, consider where he's coming from. As a junior and senior at tiny Cascade Christian High in Jacksonville, Ore., he was recruited heavily by Oregon. "Call me arrogant, but I just assumed I was going there," he says. "My dad had played there, and I thought I was that caliber of player."
At the end of his senior season, however, the Ducks stopped calling. Maurer had excelled but against small-school competition, and the Oregon staff had doubts he could play in Division I. The rebuff was equally hurtful to Marty's father, Andy, who had starred for Oregon at tight end in the late 1960s before going on to an eight-year career as a guard for the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. Marty took a scholarship to Oregon State, and the Maurers discarded all of their Ducks paraphernalia. "It was a lot of stuff," says Marty, "sweatshirts, caps, those flags that go on your car. It all got tossed."
"We write, 'Return to sender,' on all the Ducks stuff that comes in the mail," says Andy. When fund-raisers from Oregon call the Maurer household, they get an earful from him: "I say, 'You rejected my son, so you don't get any money.' "
Marty is 6'4" and 241 pounds, with average speed and terrific hands. He may or may not end up in the NFL—a Detroit Lions scout spoke to him after Saturday's game—but his football r�sum� includes something his father's lacks: a victory in the Civil War. Marty now has two. He was a sophomore in 1998, when the Beavers beat the Ducks 44-41 in double overtime. That game and its aftermath became one of the storylines for this Civil War. Oregon State fans stormed the field prematurely during the first OT and stood on the sidelines as the rest of the game played out. The Beavers' win brought fans streaming back onto the field, where some of them, apparently, forgot their manners.