MSU downed by Mariota, Ducks

Spartans held lead to start second half, but the Oregon quarterback came up big in the third quarter to give the Ducks a 46-28 win.

Facing a third-and-11, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook was under pressure. He stepped up and tried to squeeze the ball out to fullback Trevon Pendleton, but it felt just out of his reach.

Four plays later on third-and-10, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was trapped, but he escaped the pursuit of MSU’s defense, shoveling the pass ahead to running back Royce Freeman for 17 yards and a first down.

Oregon scored six plays later, starting a 28-0 run that carried them to a 46-27 win Saturday in Eugene.

The Ducks’ 28-0 run came on the heels of a 24-point second quarter for the Spartans, which carried over into the second half with a field goal.

It was led by Mariota, who played like the Heisman candidate he is billed to be. The senior quarterback was 17 of 28 for 318 yards and three touchdowns.

The Ducks got the scoring underway after Cook threw an interception on third-and-10 in Oregon territory, which Erick Dargan returned 36 yards to the MSU 39. Mariota led the Ducks quickly into the red zone after two plays and a personal foul from Mylan Hicks on a late hit on Mariota moved it closer.

The Spartans run defense stood strong, but on fourth-and-1 from the goal line, Thomas Tyner punched it in for a score. The Ducks went for two as they came out set to kick, but the formation split and Taylor Allie threw a quick pass to DeForest Buckner, who ran it in for two to give the Ducks an 8-0 lead.

On the Ducks next drive from, Mariota evaded tackle on second-and-5, threw to a wide open Darren Currington, who ran downfield for more yards and a 64 yard gain to the MSU 16. The defense stepped up and forced a 28-yard field goal from Ian Wheeler to give the Ducks an 11-0 lead with 13:37 to go in the first half.

Michigan State responded with an eight-play, 76-yard drive with big plays from Cook to Josiah Price for 17 and A.J. Troup for 19. Jeremy Langford finished the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run with 10:57 to go in the first half.

Oregon quickly scored two plays later as Mariota hit Devon Allen, who broke a tackle attempt from R.J. Williamson and ran in for a 70-yard score and an 18-7 lead.

R.J. Shelton ran back the ensuing kickoff 58 yards to the Oregon 32-yard line, setting up the Spartans for an eventual Michael Geiger 35-yard field goal to cut the lead to 18-10.

The Spartans defense stood tall on the next Oregon drive, as Lawrence Thomas sacked Mariota for a loss of six and Marcus Rush came back and sacked him on the following play for a loss of 11. A holding penalty on the punt set Michigan State up at the Oregon 38.

Six plays later, Cook hit Tony Lippett for a 7-yard touchdown and the Spartans made it an 18-17 game with 2:26 before the half.

The defense forced a three-and-out, giving the Spartans the ball back with 1:27 left in the half. A huge third-down pick up from Cook to Lippett for 34 set up a 6-yard touchdown pass from Cook to Josiah Price to give MSU a 24-18 halftime.

Michigan State’s defense forced a third straight three-and-out to open the second half. After another big third-down pickup from Cook to Shelton for 34, Geiger hammed home a 42-yard field to give MSU a 27-18 lead with 20 unanswered points and a fifth straight scoring drive.

Mariota brought the Ducks back to 27-25 when he hit Allen for a 23-yard score with 4:33 to go in the third. The Spartans looked to have a three-and-out, but Mariota escaped pressure and shovel passed the ball ahead to Tyner, who ran for 17 yards and a first down.

The Ducks came right back after MSU went three-and-out as Mariota again came up big on third down. This time, the Oregon quarterback pulled it down and ran for 11 yards just past the first-down marker. Four plays later, he hit a wide open Keanon Lowe for a 27-yard touchdown and a 32-27 lead.

Another three-and-out for MSU and the Ducks scored two plays later on a 39-yard run by Royce Freeman as the Ducks posted 21 unanswered points.

MSU got the ball back, but Cook’s pass intended for Troup was tipped and a diving Ifo Ekpre-Olomu hauled it in at the Oregon 4-yard line.

Freeman capped the scoring with a 14-yard run on a fourth down late.


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