Ducks Close Out Husky Stadium 34-17

The Oregon Ducks (8-1, 6-0) beat the Washington Huskies (6-3, 4-2) 34-17. The win was the Ducks' eighth straight and for those that follow point spreads; the win covered the 14.5 points. None of that is particularly surprising as Oregon has been the dominate team in the conference offensively but what Oregon's defense may have turned some heads.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks running back LaMichael James (21) rushes against the Washington Huskies during the second half at Husky Stadium. Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

The Duck defense recorded six sacks and picked off Washington quarterback Keith Price twice and held the Husky offense to a total of 278 yards. Senior safety Eddie Pleasant set the tone of the aggressive Oregon defense by pulling in both interceptions and returning the ball to put the Oregon offense in great field positions to score. The Oregon offense needed the help as it was held to just 381 yards, the lowest this season in a game Oregon has won.

"I thought our D-line really created a lot of pressure. We knew with such an efficient quarterback like Keith (Price) we knew we couldn't sacrifice coverage," said Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly of his team's defensive effort. "Our guys did a great job today."

The game demonstrated the Huskies have come a long way since Steve Sarkisian has taken over. While a 17-point win is nothing to sneeze at, it is the first time in eight games that the Huskies were able to keep the loss under 20 points. The contest was the last to be played in the old stadium and even though the game was not sold out, the fans were loud and raucous.

"We knew that this game was going to be special from what their (Washington) crowd would bring," observed Kelly. "It was rocking out there. Our kids enjoyed the environment.

Oregon's offense needed help from the defense to shorten the field and Pleasant started things off right with his first interception that lead to Oregon's first score when he returned the ball to the Washington 34-yard line. It took the Ducks just three plays to move into the end zone when LaMichael James ran in from the 18. James clearly has shaken off the rust of sitting out a couple of games and finished the day with 156 yards on 25 carries and the one score.

"LaMichael's really good," said Sarkisian of James. "There are plays where he supposed to go to the right and he takes three steps and stops and turns around and runs around back left and Darron Thomas is the lead blocker."

James Rushing total of 156 yards marks the 22nd 100-yard rushing game in his career and extends his own school record. The performance also put James over 1,000 yards, the third straight year he has done that which is a first for an Oregon running back. He also surpassed 5,000 yards of all-purpose yards (5,057) makes him second in school history in that category.

Pleasant returned the ball to Washington's 34 on his second pick and again the Duck offense wasted little time finding the endzone when quarterback Darron Thomas his tight end David Paulson for a 4-yard touchdown. Thomas ended the night throwing 25 passes, completing 13 for 169 yards and the one touchdown to Paulson. Sarkisian credited the Thomas-Paulson combination for the play that changed the Huskies chances of staying competitive.

"I thought one of the crucial plays of the game, with everything that went on, was when we cut the lead to 24-17 and they had a third and nine and they hit the seem route to (David) Paulson for a gain of, I think 35," said Sarkisian of the play. "I thought that was one of the key moments of the ball game. We couldn't get right offensively after that."

Thomas' TD pass gives him at least one TD pass in 21 straight appearances as a starter.

"I thought Darron did a good job," said Kelly of his starting signal caller. "He had a couple of drops, but that isn't always the quarterbacks fault. He really understands how to manage the game and gets the ball in the right kid's hands."

Josh Huff was the leading receiver for the Ducks with four catches for 60 yards. Lavasier Tuinei also had four catches for 25 yards. Paulson ended the night with three grabs for a total 65 yards.

Defensively, Oregon was led in tackles by Dewitt Stuckey with eight tackles (six solos) including one tackle for loss. Michael Clay also had a TFL as did Dion Jordan. Terrell Turner, Josh Kaddu, Taylor Hart, Boseko Lokombo, Brandon Hanna and Brian Jackson all were given credit for sacks.

"We had to show up," said Jordan. "We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy and things like that. But the defense showed up and we did our job."

Special teams had big performances from De'Anthony Thomas who returned a kick for 69 yards that set up one of Alejandro Maldanado's field goals. Maldanado booted two field goals of 40 and 35 yards. De'Anthony Thomas also scored a touchdown on a rushing play, giving him a touchdown in five straight games for a total of 12 (five rushing, six receiving and on kickoff return) for the season.


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