Eugene, Ore. – Facing a rising opponent in an urgent scenario, Oregon delivered.
3 Ducks responded to a major challenge from Washington State, keeping their hopes alive for a college football playoff berth by turning back the fearsome Cougar in a 38-24 victory at a rocking Autzen Stadium on Saturday.
A two-digit win does not reflect how close the competition really was.
The Ducks (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12) had an opportunity to close the door early on the drive arranged in fourth. The elusive quarterback Anthony Brown tried to make his way across the plane from 10 yards, but WSU safety George Hicks III ripped the ball at 1, and Jaylen Watson picked it up in the corner to set up a final field goal. He ran to midfield, with 8:31 to play to cut Uo’s lead to 24-17.
Yet as they did the whole night, the Ducks banked on the ground game to answer WSU’s test, closing the door on a cog return rumble when back-back Byron Cardwell fired 27 yards to score. But ran in the middle.
Duck corner Brian Edison picked up WSU quarterback Jayden de Laura to seal a last-ditch drive, and Cardwell scored again in garbage time. The Cougars extended an insignificant TD with nine seconds remaining when de Laura joined with Travell Harris.
Oregon initially took control of the scramble line to take a 14-0 lead, which had slipped by halftime.
But the Ducks made a comeback in the third quarter, beating the Cougars 10-0 to give them breathing room.
He shifted the momentum back to the home side by taking a slippery ball from Brown, who logged 123 of the Duck’s 306 rushing yards and a skillful 17 of 22 for 135 yards. He climbed through the air at the 17-yard keeper, touching the pylon with the ball for a touchdown in the third.
UO’s defense closed two Cougars’ drives into the quarter and extended their lead to 10 on the long drive, which ended with a field goal, during which Brown covered 51 yards.
De Laura made 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Cougar (5-5, 4-3) was held for 91 rushing yards – a count of 39 in his final drive. Potential first-round NFL draft pick Kyvan Thibodaux, an Oregon edge-rusher, posted a pair of sacks and made life miserable in the pocket for de Laura.
WSU slot Travail Harris posted 109 yards on eight catches, including 39 yards to put WSU in the red zone after Watson’s return in the fourth quarter. A Thibodeaux sack tarnished that series.
Standout UO tailback Travis Dye recorded two scores from 113 yards and scrimmages as the Ducks overtook WSU 442-369.
The Cougars started off with a bang when De Laura connected with Calvin Jackson Jr.—who had gotten behind UO coverage down the seam—for a 70-yard advantage in the second game of the game.
Jackson stepped out of bounds in a Duck 7. A play later, de Laura scrambled towards the end zone but absorbed a hard hit as he headed for the pylon and slammed the ball out from behind the end zone for a touchback.
This sequence seemed to quickly let WSU down.
Oregon leaned on the Browns’ keeper and balanced Dye to rip off the Cougar on consecutive drives late in the first quarter, leading 14-0 after Dye exited the backfield for an 11-yard touchdown catch at 2:04 Made it
Defensively, WSU was gutting, and offensively, the Cougs couldn’t afford to hang the ball too long in the backfield against the UO’s formidable defensive front.
It felt like the pace was completely in favor of the Ducks until an accidental play occurred a few minutes into the second period, when Dye collided with his own lineman and stumbled. Cog corner Jaylen Watson pulls a loose ball and supplies to give the WSU team some life.
De Laura started working out of her pocket quickly, opting to either sling it in her first look or scramble it out. The Cougars kept Oregon honest with the occasional bounced-out zone run.
Thirty yards from the slot, Trevel Harris set up a 14-yard slant touchdown of D’Ajoun Stribling, with 6:52 left until halftime, and Brennan Jackson hit an ensuing duck drive after a sack from the edge, De Laura guides 12-play, 73-. Yard scoring drive which includes quick screens, outside runs, deep tries and collection of well placed out-route balls.
De Laura capped the series with a short TD run, in which he made defenders 14-all with 11 seconds until the break, with a pump-fake pitch before diving in.
WSU forced three three-outs in the first half and had a 73-yard advantage in total offense.