Ducks Grind Out 43-28 Win

Eugene – It may have taken the Oregon Ducks (7-1, 5-0) a bit to get moving at pace most folks expect but when the Ducks erupted for 21 third quarter points, there was no doubt Oregon had complete control over the Washington State Cougars (3-5, 1-4). Behind freshman De'Anthony Thomas and red shirt freshman Bryan Bennett, the Ducks took another step to a successful season with a 43-28 win.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas against the Washington State Cougars during the first half at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks beat the Cougars 43-28. Credit: Jim Z. Rider-US PRESSWIRE

DeAnthony Thomas scored on a sensational 45-yard pass play in which he played peek-a-boo with a Cougar defender running down the field and into the endzone for the first score of the third quarter then later he broke off a 93-yard kick return for a touchdown. With the two touchdowns, De'Anthony Thomas became the all-time leading true freshman touchdown scorer with 11 touchdowns surpassing Derek Loville's mark of 10 (1986).

"I wasn't worried about it at all," reflected De'Anthony Thomas. "I didn't even know about it. I'm just trying to get experience and score more the rest of the year. I still have a lot to learn though because I'm still a freshman."

Bennett came into the game on Oregon's first drive of the third quarter and threw the touchdown pass to Thomas. Bennett also hit Lavasier Tuinei on a 19-yard TD scoring play. Overall, Bennett was 4-for-7, 88 yards and the two TDs. Coming in for starter Darron Thomas, Bennett ignited the offense by also rushing to 25 yards on four carries. Thomas, who was benched by Coach Chip Kelly because the Oregon coaches felt Bryan Bennett gave the Ducks "a better chance in the second half," was 8-for-13, 153 yards, one touchdown pass but also two uncharacteristic interceptions. Several questions were asked after the game how Thomas accepted being replaced and Kelly indicated that Thomas was upbeat.

"Darron handled it great," said Kelly. "It's all about the team. This team is all about we, not all about me. I just felt in the best interest of what we had to do for him, that we were going to go with Bryan (Bennett)."

Junior running back Kenjon Barner had his third-straight 100-yard plus rushing game as he finished the afternoon gaining 107 net yards on 11 carries including scoring the last Oregon touchdown of the game on a 28 yard run. Barner shared running duties with starter LaMichael James, who saw his first action in two games after suffering what many thought was a season-ending elbow injury. James had 53 net yards on 13 carries. De'Anthony Thomas had 26 yards on four carries while Tra Carson added another 12 yards on two carries. Overall, the Ducks had 213 yards of rushing.

"He was knicked up a little bit today but he persevered," Kelly said of Barner's performance. "He gave us a good spark in the second half."

James initially showed some rust after not seeing playing time for the past few weeks. However as the game progressed, he made his presence known.

"When he started to get into a rhythm in the second half he started to hit some runs like we knew he could," Kelly said of James. "He's a warrior."

Tuinei was the leading Duck receiver with four catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Hoffman had three grabs for 66 yards. De'Athony Thomas totaled two catches for 54 yards and a score while David Paulson contributed with two catches for 31 yards.

Defensively the Ducks were paced by Michael Clay's 12 tackles (seven solo) including one tackle for loss. Dion Jordan also recorded a TFL, which was a sack, among his seven tackles (six solos). The Ducks had three sacks with Eddie Pleasant and Terrell Turner notching a sack each in addition to Jordan's sack.

"Our team does a really good job in red zone defense and have done it all year long," observed Kelly of his team defense. "We're eight games in so it doesn't surprise me how well those guys are playing."

Two Ducks came up with interceptions in the first half. Pleasant had one of the picks while Terrance Mitchell was given credit for the other. Mitchell was one of five players with a TFL along with Clay, Jordan, Pleasant and Turner. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu had two break ups while Boseko Lokombo also recording one break up.

On special teams, Lokombo got the Ducks off fast in the first quarter when he returned a blocked punt 25 yards for a touchdown. The punt was blocked by Avery Patterson. Oregon's special teams also scored on a two-point conversion when punter Jackson Rice threw a pass to place kicker Alejandro Maldando. Maldanado also booted four points after attempts but missed on a 47-yard field goal attempt as time expired in the first half.

"Our special teams obviously gave us a great boost today," admitted Kelly. "They got the punt and returned the kick for a touchdown."

Washington State's Marshall Lobbestael was 28-for-48, 337 yards with one touchdown pass to Jared Karstetter. Lobbestael was also picked off twice. Marquess Wilson was the leading receiver for the game with 11 catches totaling 126 yards followed closely by Karstetter's seven receptions for 114 yards and the score. Carl Winston was the top Cougar running the ball with 14 carries for 69 yards. Rickey Galvin scored on rushing touchdown and finished the game with 50 yards on 11 carries.

WSU place kicker Andrew Furney hit two field goals of 40 and 35 yards.

WSU's Alex Hoffman-Ellis was the leading Cougar tackler with seven (five solos). Over all WSU had six TFLs with Sekope Kaufusi sacking Thomas once.

"We played hard and controlled the pocket," said WSU's Paul Wulff. "First half in the red zone, we turned the ball over and those miscues... to play this team and make those kinds of mistakes, to even be close to them shows how we played in other areas of the game. But, no victory. We came here to win and we didn't get it done."

Notes:

  • The Ducks ran their home winning streak to 21 games, which is the second-longest active streak in the nation and two shy of the UO school record set between 1997 and 2001.
  • Oregon has won 17 straight conference games, dating to a 2009 road loss to Stanford.
  • FR CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, a true frosh, made the first start of his career.
  • The Ducks allowed an interception return for a touchdown for the first time since Oct. 10, 2009 at UCLA.
  • Oregon was held without an offensive touchdown in the opening quarter for only the second time this season and first since the season opener vs. LSU.
  • The Ducks failed to reach 300 rushing yards for the third time this season and 500 total yards for the first time since the season opener.
  • The crowd of 59,126 (seating capacity 54,000) marked the 79th consecutive sellout at Autzen Stadium, dating to 1999. The last non-sellout was Sept. 18, 1999 vs. Nevada.


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