Ducks offense thrives in Seattle

(SEATTLE) - It took six games, but No. 2 ranked Oregon finally found a true test in Washington. The 45-24 score may not explain how close this game really was with the No. 16 ranked Huskies, but the Ducks had them nipping at their heels at the end of the third quarter, trailing by only seven.

However, the Ducks pulled away by holding the Huskies scoreless in the fourth quarter and scored their tenth straight win over their rival, thanks in large part to the play of redshirt sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Mariota continued to build toward a Heisman Trophy ceremony invite, throwing for 366 yards on 24-of-31 passing for three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 88 yards and a fourth touchdown, giving him 11 in the past two games alone and 25 on the season without throwing an interception.

Despite a hostile crowd, Mariota and the Ducks kept their cool under pressure, responding each time the Huskies threatened to finally close the gap.

"The best part about his game is the mental part," sophomore wide receiver Bralon Addison said. "He still hasn't thrown an interception in, what has it been six games now? He watches a lot of film, takes it seriously everyday in practice and comes with the mindset to get better." Addison wasn't the only won impressed with Mariota, who helped the Ducks achieve 631 yards of offense.

"He played really smart and very productive," head coach Mark Helfrich said. "A bunch of guys made some plays for him too."

About those other guys. While it's easy to point to Mariota's gaudy numbers and single him out, he had help in the receiving core from an injured Josh Huff and another big game from Addison. Sophomore running back Byron Marshall also chipped in, churning out 106 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries to lead the Ducks in rushing.

Huff, who was knocked down early in the second quarter and carried off the field, limped to the locker room under his own power with no shoe on and an ice pack wrapped around his bare ankle before halftime. He admitted that he envisioned the worst possible scenario for what could've happened, but was lifted by encouragement from his teammates and some additional mobility to go out and try to contribute in the second half.

"Mentally I was 100 percent," Huff said of going back in the game. "Physically I wasn't."

What initially looked like a serious injury amounted to little, as Huff opened the second half with a 65-yard touchdown reception from Mariota less than a minute after the Huskies cut the deficit to seven points on a 60-yard Bishop Sankey touchdown run. He finished with six catches for 107 yards, and his return came as little surprise to some.

"He practices through injuries all the time," Addison said. "He's something special."

Addison led the team with eight receptions, tallying 157 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The sophomore found himself on the end of some big plays again, which was needed after Huff went down.

His 43-yard catch in the first quarter set up a Marshall score, and a 38-yard reception set up his own 4-yard touchdown catch on the first series after Huff exited to put the Ducks on top 14-7. After the game, he credited wide receivers coach Matt Lubick with the development of the entire wide receiver core this season.

"I love that guy so much," Addison said. "He does a great job of coaching our technique and I think you've seen our receivers core grow from last year."

Now at 6-0, Oregon can finally say that they've played a tough opponent. And there's more to come with UCLA coming to Eugene in two weeks and the highly touted matchup on the road at Stanford following that.

But Oregon proved to doubters on Saturday it can look and play the part of a top team against another ranked team in a tough environment. The question remains, can they keep things rolling for six more games?

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