Spring Game: Mariasu upends Twifo

EUGENE - The 2014 edition of the Oregon Spring Game saw Team Mariasu defeat Team Twifo 27-7 on Saturday afternoon from Autzen Stadium. The scrimmage concluded spring workouts for the Ducks and their staff as they look ahead toward the summer before resuming activities in the fall.

As with years past, the Ducks honored members of the military throughout the game and held a jersey exchange with service members following the final whistle.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota, one half of the captains and namesake of his team along with senior center Hroniss Grasu, was as sharp as ever, completing 6-of-7 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt junior played in only three series and left following a 45-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman wide receiver Devon Allen while on the run in the first quarter.

The battle to see who would land as the No. 2 option behind Mariota remained a mystery after Saturday. Jake Rodrigues was on-point early on during his first drive, completing his first four passes before falling off and throwing 3-for-14 the rest of the way. The sophomore was the lone Duck QB not to throw a touchdown pass on Saturday, finishing with 66 yards passing for Team Twifo.

Fellow sophomore Jeff Lockie started slow but eventually fell into a groove in the second half in relief of Mariota. He finished 7-for-12 with 121 yards passing and one touchdown on a nifty 45-yard reverse flea-flicker to Torrodney Prevot in the third quarter. He looked to be the more consistent of the two down the stretch, but after the game head coach Mark Helfrich wouldn't tip his hand on who would land as Mariota's backup.

"I thought a couple times, both of them absolutely forced it," Helfrich said. "That's human nature of trying to win the job with one throw and that's the quickest, fastest way to lose it."

As questions lingered as to who would step up at wide receiver due to the current absence of Bralon Addison (knee), Allen answered the call. He had two catches on the day — both for touchdowns — for 94 yards, and was used out of the backfield to help set up the flea-flicker in the third quarter. He added the final score as time expired on a 49-yard pass from redshirt freshman Damion Hobbs, cementing the final score. Helfrich said after the game that he expects big things from Allen, who also runs track at Oregon.

"He's a tough dude and he's starting to play at track speed," Helfrich said of Allen. "He's been outstanding."

Helfrich was also complimentary of redshirt freshman Darren Carrington who, while playing with an injured hand, managed to haul in three catches for 47 yards and the only touchdown for Team Twifo in the fourth quarter.

"Both those guys [Allen and Carrington] are working toward what we thought they were in recruiting," Helfrich said. "That'll be exciting. A big, big period for them is the summer."

Carrington, along with fellow San Diego-bred teammate Tyree Robinson paid tribute to the late Todd Doxey, a member of the 2007 recruiting class who hailed from the city and died in a swimming accident in 2008. Carrington had Doxey's initials and number (29) on his headband with "RIP" written next to it, while Robinson showed up to the post game press conference in a Doxey jersey.

"Todd Doxey was a close family friend," Robinson said. "I'm from San Diego. That's kind of the reason me, my brother and Darren Carrington came here was to put on for San Diego and the Doxey family. I think I did it well."

On the ground, Oregon-native Thomas Tyner shined. The sophomore took 10 carries for 58 yards and caught the first touchdown pass of the game from Mariota as he slipped by the defense and found himself wide open for a 22-yard catch.

Tyner's aggressive running set the tone for fellow backs Kani Benoit and Kenny Bassett. While Bassett had the most carries on the day with 11, he finished with only 26 yards. Benoit made the most of his five carries, accumulating 44 yards on the ground that was marred slightly by a fumble. Still, his 8.8 yards per carry led all running backs in the contest.

Defensively, redshirt freshman Juwaan Williams led all players in tackles with nine. Junior Rodney Hardrick added six tackles of his own as well as a forced fumble, anchoring the Ducks linebackers.

Junior college transfer Tui Talia also made his mark with five tackles including a memorable take down of Jonathan Loyd, the former Ducks point guard turned wide receiver. Loyd was also met with a crushing hit by B.J. Kelley on a punt return in the second quarter that was flagged for interference and also took a lick from Robinson later in the game near the sideline in his first action on the gridiron. The 5-foot-8, 163-pound receiver said he had nothing but respect for his teammates after the game.

"I just know that when you get hit you've got to get up," Loyd said. "If you sit there and think about it, it might hurt so just get up and keep pushing."

Robinson had one of the two Ducks interceptions on the day, picking off Taylor Alie early in the second quarter. Senior cornerback Dior Mathis had the other interception in the fourth quarter off of Rodrigues.

Overall, the Ducks defense accumulated six tackles, three for either team. Team Mariasu led the way with seven tackles for loss, led by junior DeForest Buckner who had 2.5 for eight yards.

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