Ducks Too Much for Cats

Tucson – Despite a furious comeback in the third quarter led by Arizona quarterback Nick Foles, the Oregon Ducks withstood the challenge and went on to record a 56-31 win over the Arizona Wildcats. Along the way, LaMichael James set a school record with 288 yards of rushing on 23 carries while scoring two first half touchdowns.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks safety John Boyett (20) attempts to gain control of a pass intended for Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Gino Crump (not pictured) in the first quarter of a game at Arizona Stadium. Credit: Chris Morrison-US PRESSWIRE

"It was a good win," said Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly. "I like the way we closed it out."

Oregon led 35-9 at halftime, but Arizona showed strong resilience with Foles finding receivers with pin-point accuracy and Arizona was able to cut Oregon's lead to 35-16 on the first possession of the second half. Oregon was unable to move the ball on its next possession and the Wildcats again scored on a drive to cut the score to 35-24. However, that was as close the Wildcats could get.

When the Ducks got the ball back holding the 11-point lead, the three team leaders of the Oregon offense, Darron Thomas, LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner took over. Oregon took possession of the ball on its own 25 following the kickoff from Arizona. Thomas hit Lavasier Tuinei for 15 yard gain, then James streaked 31 yards to put the ball on Arizona's 29. Kenjon Barner spelled James and moved the ball seven yards to the 22. James came back in and ran eight yards. Barner continued the assault and ran to the Arizona 5. Thomas scored from the five on a run and following Alejandro Maldanado's point after the Ducks moved the lead to 42-24.

"LaMichael James was spectacular tonight," said Arizona's Mike Stoops. "We just couldn't find a way to stop him. His speed and footwork really worked against our defensive line."

Foles again stepped back on the field and led a drive that looked like it would cut Oregon's lead, but when Dion Jordan sacked Foles on a fourth-and-six play, the Ducks took over and all doubts about the outcome were erased.

"We came up with a couple of big sacks in the second half when we needed them," Kelly recalled of the third quarter. "I'll tell you what: I'm glad Nick Foles is graduating."

With the first snap of the next possession, James peeled off a 47-yard run then followed up with a 22-yarder and Oregon was on the Arizona 9. Barner relieved James and two running plays and nine yards later, scored. Trailing 49-24, Arizona was able to punch in one last touchdown to cut the Ducks lead to 49-21, but Oregon would score one final touchdown with James doing most of the work moving the ball down field and Thomas rushing for his second rushing touchdown of the night.

For the game, James set a new school record, eclipsing Onterrio Smith's performance against Washington State of 285 yards in 2001. Barner finished the night with 72 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Thomas had a total of 52 yards running the ball. All toll, Oregon recorded 415 yards of rushing on 47 carries.

"We've done a decent job running against them," Kelly said of Oregon efforts against Arizona in recent years. "With Mike's (Stoops) teams, they're going to always take something away, and tonight it was our passing game."

Thomas also threw for 101 yards on an 11-for-20 effort with two touchdowns.

Tight end David Paulson was the leading Oregon receiver with 22 yards including a 10-yard touchdown reception. Barner also had two catches totaling six yards and a touchdown.

Foles had 396 yards on 34-of-56 and three touchdowns. David Douglas was the leading Wildcat receiver with seven catches for 120 yards. Richard Morrison had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. David Roberts had four catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns.

Keola Antolin was the leading rusher for Arizona with 55 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown.

Oregon's defense was led by Dewitt Stuckey's 10 tackles (eight solos) including a sack. Kiko Alonso had nine tackles (eight solos). Eddie Pleasant chipped in eight tackles (seven solos). Dion Jordan had a total of two and half tackles for loss including a sack. Terrell Turner and Josh Kaddu also recorded a sack. There were no interceptions by either team but Oregon did have a total of 10 pass deflections.

Paul Vassailo was the leading Arizona tackler with 11 (seven solos).

Oregon did not attempt any field goals but Alejandro Maldanado had seven successful PAT attempts. Jackson Rice had three punts averaging 52 yards with one downed inside the 20.

While questions still remain about Oregon's defensive line, there was improvement against a Pac-12 opponent and when the Ducks most needed a stop, the defense answered.

Offensively, Oregon appears to be right back in the same mode they were a year ago and for the third straight game the Ducks beat their opponent by at least 25 points.

Next weekend Oregon has off but will be back in action at home on October 6th against California for a rare Thursday Night game.

Notes:

  • JR RB LaMichael James set Oregon single-game records with 288 rushing yards and 363 all-purpose yards, breaking Onterrio Smith's marks of 285 and 342, respectively, at Washington State Oct. 27, 2001.
  • Oregon has now won a school-record 13 consecutive conference games since a Nov. 7, 2009, loss at Stanford. The previous record was 12 over parts of the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
  • With two rushing touchdowns, James now has 42 career, breaking Derek Loville's (1986-89) school record. His 47 overall scores are also a UO best.
  • James broke into the Pac-12's all-time top 10 for rushing and moved all the way up to sixth with 3,890 yards, passing former Oregon State running back Jaquizz Rodgers (3,877) along the way.
  • James moved into second on the Oregon all-time scoring list with 284 points, the highest total among non-kickers. Jared Siegel (2001-04) holds the record with 323.
  • James has 492 rushing yards over the past two games, the top two-game total in UO history.
  • JR QB Darron Thomas accounted for four scores with two passing and two rushing touchdowns. Thomas has thrown at least one TD pass in all 17 career starts.
  • The 2nd quarter TD catch by SR TE David Paulson was his first of the season and fifth of his career.
  • JR RB Kenjon Barner, appearing for the first time since the season opener vs. LSU, had his first touchdowns of the season – two rushing and one receiving.
  • Barner posted season highs of 13 carries and 72 yards, while Da. Thomas had season bests of 10 carries and 52 yards.
  • The Ducks exceeded their season total in sacks coming in (four) with five. Included was SR LB Dewitt Stuckey's first career sack.
  • UO's 35 first-half points equaled last week's season-high vs. Missouri State, as did its 56 total points.
  • The Ducks had 415 rushing yards, surpassing the 400-yard mark for a second straight game (416 vs. Missouri State).
  • Oregon was 8-for-8 in the Red Zone – all touchdowns.
  • SO DT Wade Keliikipi made his first start of the season, second of his career.
  • Oregon has won the past four conference openers when facing Arizona, including three in Tucson.

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