That wasn’t LeGarrette Blount on the field for the first time in three months.
That wasn’t the scourge of a nation playing in crunch time with the Rose Bowl on the line.
In the Civil War of all things.
No way. No, it couldn’t have been.
But it was, as that same nation watched Blount go from The Punch to Pasadena Thursday in the War of the Roses. Remember how the 240-pound tailback’s season started? How could anyone forget?
It’s hard to believe which power was higher after Oregon’s 37-33 victory over Oregon State Thursday night. The power of redemption or the power of the Ducks’ offensive line.
Blount was inserted in the second half with coach Chip Kelly looking for a change of pace. The move worked when Blount scored a touchdown after the Ducks had fallen behind 30-21. Later, Blount’s 30-yard run also helped Oregon bleed off the final 6:09 of the clock.
Blount arrived just in time (nine rushes, 51 yards) to give his team the punch it lacked since, well, his punch in Boise exactly three months to the day on Sept. 3. LaMichael James (166 yards) had done fine as Blount’s replacement becoming the Pac-10’s second-leading rusher, but Kelly didn’t establish himself as a national coach of the year candidate by being an empty visor.
After Blount was knocked back for a one-yard loss, Oregon faced a fourth-and-3 from the Oregon State 33 with 3:29 left. Kelly called timeout, then called a pass where everything broke down. No matter, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli threw his frame six yards downfield for the first of two fourth-down conversions on the drive that ended with students mobbing the field.
The War of the Roses morphed into the return of the Blount. Suspended for the season after that night in Boise, he got a second chance with Kelly reconsidered. Blount was eligible to return in early November but didn’t see the field until Thursday.
Not bad for a third-string tailback.
Not bad for a rookie head coach.
Great for the Ducks.
They’re going to Pasadena for the first time in 15 years.