Ducks Roll 57-34

EUGENE – If there is any doubt just how good the Oregon Ducks (1-0) can be, then look at the first half of the 57-34 win over Arkansas State (0-1). The Ducks scored 50 points, had 417 yards of offense. Oregon held its opponent to 10 points, 228 yards of offense including only 56 yards of rushing. By then Oregon's Chip Kelly decided to call of the dogs.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks DeAnthony Thomas (6) runs the ball for a touchdown in the first half. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

The game was redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota's coming out party and the young Hawaiian responded by throwing three touchdown passes on an 18-for-22 effort. Mariota was particularly sharp, especially after getting sacked on the second play of the game. Once the cobwebs were shaken off by the sack, after all Mariota hasn't been hit in a football contest in over a year, he went on his personal rampage to boldly announce that the Oregon Ducks are firmly under the control of Marcus Mariota, thank you.

"He's just calm," remarked junior receiver Josh Huff of Mariota's play. "He never lets anything get to him."

Naturally, the Duck redshirt freshman signal caller had some help. Senior running back Kenjon Barner showed everybody is quite able to replace the departed LaMichael James by rushing for 66 yards on nine carries and scoring two touchdowns. Barner also had a pass reception, along with 13 other Ducks on Saturday night in Autzen Stadium in front of 56,144 fans a national ESPN TV audience.

When Barner was breaking loose in the limited running game the Ducks showed, the other half of the Oregon rushing attack, Thomas gained 64 yards of rushing and scored once on a 33-yard scamper. Thomas also was the leading receiver with four catches for 55 yards and two TDs.

"Anybody in the country would him (Thomas) if was available," Kelly observed of his star and smiled. "But he's not (available.)"

Keanon Lowe emerged into the receiver's spot light by pulling in four balls for 34 yard. Tight end Colt Lyerla caught two passes and gained a tough 18 yards to keep drives alive.

"Our receiver group is deep," said Lowe. "I think all of our guys can play."

With the Ducks well in control of the game leading 50-10 at halftime, Mariota, Barner, Thomas, Lyerla and Lowe headed for the sidelines and the warning issued to the rest of college football, that the Ducks look unstoppable.

Of course this was the first game of the season and with a big lead established, Kelly freely substituted to give players who needed the extra work a chance to see action.

Sophomore Bryan Bennett came in for Mariota and threw for 108 yads on 10-of-17, including one touchdown to Rahsaan Vaughn. Bennett was also picked off once. The second unit of the Duck offense wasn't so polished as mistakes, dropped balls and lack of concentration seemed to stymie the backups.

"Just because we're up doesn't mean we can slow down," said Bennett of the second half effort. "When you come out in those situations you keep it going."

Arkansas State came back to score 24 points in the second half to Oregon's seven. ASU's quarterback Ryan Aplin finished the game throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns on 29-for-44 throwing including one interception. Receiver Josh Jarboe had 13 receptions for 66 yards and a TD catch. Carlos McCants also pulled in a TD as did Julian Jones on a long 72-yard breakaway. Aplin also had a rushing score. Field goal kicker Brian Davis booted two field goals of 43 and 29 yards.

Oregon only tried one field goal but kicker Robbie Beard shanked the ball left.

Defensively Oregon was led by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Troy Hill, both recording six unassisted tackles. Erick Dargan and Derrick Malone each had five tackles. John Boyett had an interception and return of 25 yards.

"I was extremely pleased for the first half," said Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti. "Then we played a lot of kids for the second half. There was a great lesson to be learned. When you get the opportunity, you've got to step up. We didn't do as good of a job in the second half as I would've liked for some of those younger kids to have done."

For the first game out, Kelly and his coaching staff have to be very pleased with the starters and at the same time realize that the back-ups still need some refinement. Kelly clearly admitted that and pointed out the Arkansas State was a tougher opponent than many gave them credit. Kelly commented on the respect he has for Arkansas State Head Coach Gus Malzahn and the lessons the hard working team from Arkansas State gave the Ducks. Next week, the Ducks will go back onto the practice field and work on those lessons as they prepare for another team known for bringing tough competition to Autzen Stadium – Fresno State.

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