Autzen Stadium is known for being a loud and raucous place but for the first half and the opening minutes of the third quarter, the place was so quiet you'd have thought people were trying to get a little shut eye. Maybe the loss last week to Stanford was still on everyone's mind, as the Ducks struggled to protect Marcus Mariota, who had been sacked three times in the first half.
The Ducks couldn't seem to find that special magic that has been Autzen Stadium over the last five years and nursing a 17-7 lead at halftime, the nerves of the faithful became shattered when Utah scored on its opening drive of the second half -- a time consuming drive that covered 75 yards and took eight plays and five minutes and four seconds off the clock. Utah's drive was nearly stalled its own 48, but Ute quarterback Adam Schulz heaved up a pass while under a heavy pass rush and somehow wide receiver Dom Hatfield got under the ball at the Oregon 4. One snap later, Schulz plunged into the endzone and following the successful point after, Oregon's lead was trimmed to 17-14.
Holy Moley, what was this, Stanford all over again?
Well, not quite as De'Anthony Thomas took the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for the touchdown and despite the missed PAT, there was a vibration floating around among the 56,000 in attendance. Leading 23-14, the Ducks scored three more touchdowns.
First Mariota hit a wide open Johnny Mundt on a 14-yard TD strike and with the PAT it was 30-14. As the quarter was winding down Mariota threw a backward pass, otherwise known as a lateral to Byron Marshall who took the ball 17 yards for a score and after Wogan kicked another PAT the scoreboard read 37-14. Not too long into the fourth quarter (12:09) Marshall took the ball up through the tackles and scampered 16 yards for the final Oregon TD of the day.
Utah would add a touchdown when the game was manned by mostly backups to create the final score, 44-21 Oregon.
For the game, Oregon had 433 yards of total offense (145 rushing, 288 passing) compared to Utah's 297 yards (116 rushing, 181 passing).
Mariota, who had minus 23 yards in rushing in the first half due to the three sacks, ran one more time in the game for a plus five yards, but perhaps more importantly showed that he is not as a immobile as some have speculated.
Marshall finished the game as the leading rusher with 66 net yards on 11 carries and two scores. Thomas Tyner had some good work with seven carries for 57 yards and Ayele Forde had 23 yards on five carries in mop up duty.
Bralon Addison was the leading receiver with four catches for 67 yards. Huff also had four catches for 57 yards and a score, while Thomas pulled in four balls for 28 yards and a score. Daryle Hawkins seemed to make significant plays to keep drives alive and finished the day with three receptions for 55 yards. Pharaoh Brown had two catches for 25 yards. Mundt's solo reception for 14 yards was a touchdown.
Schulz was 13-for-30 for 181 yards and a TD, but gave up one interception in the first half to Terrance Mitchell. Bubba Poole had 18 rushes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Lucky Radley had 17 totes for 45 net yards. Schulz had five rushes for 15 net yards including the four-yard touchdown run.
Dres Anderson had four catches for 37 yards. Anthony Denham had three grabs for 19 yards. Jake Murphy at two receptions for 43 yards including a 34-yard TD, and Dom Hatfield had the 34-yard catch that set up Utah's second score.
Defensively, Avery Patterson was Oregon's top tackler with seven (six solos). Boseko Lokombo had six tackles (five solos) including a sack among his two tackles for loss. Rodney Hardrich also had a TFL as did Brian Jackson, Tony Washington and Wade Keliikipi.
Matt Wogan hit on one field goal covering 31 yards. Alejandro Maldonado recorded six punts averaging 38.8 yards with two of those punts landing inside the five.
This game was a game two halves, the first half the Ducks were tentative and mistake prone. In the second half Oregon looked like the team that had steamrolled opponents on the way to an 8-0 start before the fall to Stanford. Now Oregon is 9-1, 6-1 in conference play and the Ducks look to have shaken off the disappointment of the loss last week and look forward to the final two games of the regular season, next week at Arizona and then the Civil War back at Autzen Stadium.