TGIM (Thank God It's Marcus)

PULLMAN – Using a patched up offensive line that looked bewildered at times, the Oregon Ducks relied on the one constant this year – quarterback Marcus Mariota. Whether through his passing, running or leadership, the 2nd ranked Ducks relied on Mariota and held on to beat Washington State 38-31.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) scrambles out of the packet against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Ducks beat Cougars 38-31.(Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)

“Well 4-0 and a big win on the road,” said Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich of his team’s win. “We faced a ton of adversity, some self-inflicted, some not. I thought our guys did a great job of just seeing through it.”

It was a knockdown, dragout fight from the opening kickoff and both teams took turns holding the lead with the game finally deadlocked at 21 when time ran out in the first half. The Ducks provided the only scoring in the third quarter when Marcus Mariota found Pharaoh Brown alone in the endzone and Oregon surged ahead 28-21 following the PAT. In that drive, Mariota was completed five straight passes before hitting Brown for the score. In fact for the game, Mariota only had four incompletions on 21-of-25 passing for 329 yards, with no interceptions and five touchdowns.

But it wasn’t only the sharp passing, it was also rushing for 106 yards, that was reduced to 58 yards net as he was sacked seven times by an aggressive Washington State defense. The Ducks operated with a makeshift offensive line because of injuries and it was very telling as Mariota was on the ground way more than anybody wearing yellow wanted to even think about. Mariota said after the game he had never been sacked so many times in one game. Yet instead of feeling sorry for himself, Mariota demonstrated his leadership abilities to build up the offensive line’s confidence.

“That guy is special,” said Helfrich of his star quarterback “He (Mariota) did a great job of taking some of the blame and the heat off of the o-line and led them through it (the game) and did a great job of rallying the defense in the second half as well.”

The defense needed all the encouragement it could get. WSU piled on 499 yards of total offense to Oregon 501 yards. Cougar QB Connor Halliday threw 63 times completing 43 attempts for 436 yards and four TDs.

The two teams exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter and both tallied touchdowns.

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