Ducks Smash NSU in Season Opener

EUGENE, Ore. – Ho hum. It wasn't a surprise that the Oregon Ducks disposed of Nicholls State University 66-3 on Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium in front of 57,769 fans. It also wasn't too much of a surprise that two new school records were set and certainly wasn't a surprise that a new NCAA rule would rear up and caused a player to be ejected.

(PHOTO) Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota sprints away from a Nicholls State University defender during Oregon's 66-3 win on Saturday, August 31, 2013 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. (Photo by Rich Kolbell)

"Defensively we played really well," said Head Coach Mark Helfrich of the game. "They (NSU) did a nice job of managing the clock and trying to get as much out of that as they could to keep the offense on the field and try to dial up a couple plays offensively for them."

For the first game of the season against a Football Championship Subdivision team the Ducks did a "fair" job according to Head Coach Mark Helfrich. Translated that means that the Ducks have some work to do before they head back east to take on Virginia next Saturday.

Today though, Oregon established a new total offense record of 772 yards including a whopping 500 yards of rushing. To get those big rushing numbers the Duck set another record of having three back run for over 100 yards each in the same game. De'Anthony Thomas led the way going for 128 yards on 18 carries and crossing the goal line twice. Byron Marshall spelled Thomas and responded by tallying up 124 yards and a touchdown of 49 yards. Marcus Mariota was spectacular by scoring twice on runs of 12 and 46 yards and totaled 113 yards for the day on the ground.

The rushing parade continued when Ayenle Forde popped off a 45 yard gallop as part of his 53 yards; backup quarterback Jake Rodrigues found a wide-open space and took off on a 28 yard run and Colt Lyerla got some work in by carrying the ball three time for a total of 17 yards and powerful plunge into the endzone for a score.

"There's no question," remarked Nicholls' headman Charlie Stubbs. "We knew that they'd present us problems. It's hard to simulate Oregon's offense in practice. They were so fast. Also, if you make a mistake, they have such skilled athletes and will make you pay. I thought our guys hung in there really well and didn't quit. I commend them for that, and that's something for us to build on."

Mariota also went 12-for-21 for 234 yards including a 27-yard scoring strike to Bralon Addison. Jeff Lockie hit 1-of-3 in his collegiate debut while fellow redshirt freshman Rodrigues hit 2-of-2 for 30 yards and notched a TD pass (the first of his career) to redshirt freshman Chance Allen.

Senior wide receiver Josh Huff led the receiving corps with five receptions for 118 yards and a long of 46. Addison had a total of two receptions for a total 42 yards. Allen pulled in two passes for 30 yards. Daryle Hawkins had two catches for 19 yards; Keanon Lowe contributed a catch for 40 yards and Lyerla pulled in a Mariota throw for 13 yards.

"The receivers we have do an outstanding job with everything," said Huff. "When we get the chance to get the ball in the air, we are going to make the most of it. Each one of the guys is talented and to be able to showcase it today sets the tone for the rest of the season. Most definitely, our wraps were more crisp."

Defensively, the Ducks were led in tackles by Derrick Malone with 11 total tackles (six solos) while Tony Washington had seven total tackles (four solos) including a sack. Washington also forced a fumble. Junior All-American Ifo Ekpre Olomu recorded six tackles (two solos) and newcomer, freshman Torrodney Prevot was the fourth leading tackler in his first career game and was credited with five total tackles (three solo) a sack and a forced fumble.

Senior defensive lineman Taylor Hart added a sack and a forced fumble plus had a pass break up. Ricky Havili-Heimuli had a sack as did DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Linebackers Boseko Lokombo and Rodney Hardrick both had a tackle for loss. Wade Keliikipi recovered a fumble as did Rahim Cassell. The Ducks notched eight break ups and four quarterback hurries.

Alejandro Maldonado kicked a 29-yard field goal and scored six points in PAT's while freshman Matt Wogan did the kickoffs (11 of them) averaging 62.7-yards per kick. Wogan also got some point-after experience by booting three through the goal posts.

"The competition is there and every day we're competing," observed Wogan on the competition between he and Maldonado. "We both weren't as good coming in, but we both have been working hard since then, so we both deserve to be out there."

Oregon did not punt the ball during the game but did turn the ball over on downs twice.

Nicholls sole score was on 35-yard field goal by Andrew Nolan. The Colonels were led in rushing by quarterback Kalen Henderson with 46-net yards. Henderson was 21-of-40 for 214 yards. For the contest Nicholls had 256 total yards of offense including 126 yards rushing and 256 passing. Starting quarterback Beaux Hebert was knocked out of the game in a play in which targeting was called.

The new rule regarding targeting was called against Terrance Mitchell during the first half of the game. The rule mandates that the offending player be disqualified from the contest. Since the penalty occurred in the first quarter of the game, Mitchell was ineligible to play in the second half but will be eligible to play next week against Virginia. The rule has caused controversy among college coaches.

""To my understanding the foul itself is not reviewable, but the ejection is reviewable," said Helfrich of the infraction called against Mitchell. "The criteria to eject is the part where there is a little bit of a grey area. Basically if the guy is ejected, if there is any contact to the head by any other part, in that case the defender, it's an ejection. We have been harping on that all fall camp. From my angle it looked like a foul. We need to coach it better. That's on us. It's a rule and we need to play by the rules.

""The way I understand the ruling is he (Mitchell) is only ejected for this game. If the foul happens in the second half, then it's this game and the first half of the next game."

Next week Oregon travels to Charlottesville for the first meeting ever between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Oregon Ducks. Kickoff for the contest will be 12:30 p.m. (Pacific) and the game will be carried on ABC and ESPN2.

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