Ducks Roar Back To Stop Vols

Knoxville -- The No. 7 Oregon Ducks (2-0) came roaring back from a 13-3 deficit and scored 45 unanswered points to make a statement to the football nation that Oregon has arrived. While a 70-minute storm delay may have caused consternation to fans both inside Neyland Stadium and at home on the West Coast, the Ducks went into the locker room, took a deep breath and relaxed.

(PHOTO) Oregon running back LaMichael James (21) escapes the grasp of Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers (34)) during an NCAA college football game at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

After getting behind 13-3 in the first quarter the Ducks made a crucial late drive to tie the game 13-all and built enough momentum to come out on fire in the second half. Even though the Ducks stalled out on the first drive of the third quarter, there was a change in attitude on the Oregon defensive line. In the first half, the Tennessee running backs were carving up big yardage, especially on first downs. Tauren Poole picked up 140 yards and a touchdown, but in the second half he only managed to get 22 yards more to end up with 164 yards for the night. The defensive effort energized the offense, particularly quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James.

"The biggest thing we did was relax and do our thing," said Brandon Bair of the Oregon defensive effort in the second half. "It was a big game in a big stadium, but once guys relaxed and did their assignments, we were fine."

As soon as the defensive line relaxed and got into the flow of the game, so did the rest of the team. All week long Tennessee Head CoachDerek Dooley had talked about Oregon's speed and in the second half that asset for the Ducks came into play.

As the Ducks started to pound the ball inside, it seemed it was inevitable that James would find an opening and he did, good for a 72-yard touchdown run.

At the 6:27 mark in the third quarter, Vols quarterback Matt Simms was rushed hard and threw long to the right side of the field. What Simms did not see was Cliff Harris, just waiting for his opportunity to cash in on more big plays for the second week in a row. Harris stepped in front of the Tennessee receiver and 76-yards later crossed the goal line.

"That's what they do," said Dooley about the Ducks, "In their long run, I think we had six missed tackles. We said that's one of the keys here. What they do is they wear on you, they get you tired, you don't line up right or you don't have the right eye control or you miss tackles. They've got special enough players to make you pay when they do that. And they did with the two big plays -- the long run and the pick-six. Next thing you know, you're on your heels, and that's what happened. The long run should never happen. We've got the guy hemmed up in the backfield for minus-5 and we don't have our contain where he is supposed (to be) and then we can't rally to the ball and get the runner down."

Thomas' work for the night was over after he hit Lavasier Tuinei for a 29-yard scoring pass. It was Tuinei's first career touchdown as a Duck.

Not to be outdone, Kenjon Barner followed up his brilliant performance against New Mexico last week with a jailbreak punt return covering 80 yards for a touchdown. It was his second of his career.

The reserves also got into the scoring column when senior running back Remene Alston went over the goal line for the final touchdown of the game. In all Rob Beard scored 12 points, two field goals (37 and 42 yards) and six point-afters.
James was the leading Oregon runner with 134 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. It was the tenth time James has reached the 100-yard mark rushing in his career. Alston had 40 on nine carries and a score, Thomas recorded 34 yards on seven carries, while Barner put up 26 yards on seven carries.

Thomas finished the night with 202 yards passing on 17-of-32 and two touchdowns. Jeffrey Maehl again was the leading receiver with five catches for 50 yards, but Paulson had more yards (61) on four catches and the touchdown. Tuinei had three grabs for 45 yards. Brandon Williams had a big catch for 29 yards in the third quarter.

Barner had 228 all-purpose yards.

Simms had 151 yards passing on 15-of-29, and threw an interception.

Head Coach Chip Kelly felt the opportunity to play the Vols in Neyland Stadium was something special, calling it an "unbelievable environment." He also thought his team performed well.

"That's what we pride ourselves in -- our conditioning," Kelly summed up. "Continue to play fast and things will break."

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