Ducks Bounce Back Big

PASADENA -- The rumors of Oregon's demise were greatly exaggerated as the Ducks mauled the UCLA Bruins 42-30 in front of 80,000 plus fans. Marcus Mariota again proved he is the man by throwing two touchdown passes and running for two more scores. Freshman running back broke the drought by rushing for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

(PHOTO) Royce Freeman in action against UCLA on Saturday. Freemen ended up with 121 yards of rushing and scored two TDs in Oregon's 42-30 win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl. (Photo by Rich Kolbell).

"Our guys were ready to go today in every phase," said a pleased Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich. "It was neat to see."

Marcus Mariota put on a show for the Los Angeles crowd by throwing for 210 yards on a 17-of-27 performance and the two TDs, without an interception. In fact the Ducks did not turn the ball over and won the turnover to take away race two to one.

UCLA's Brett Hundley was sacked by Tony Washington. Hundley fumbled the ball on the sack and Tui Talia recovered the ball on the UCLA 13. One play later, Mariota scampered into the endzone. Following a successful two-point conversion by holder Taylor Alie on an option play to the left, the Ducks were a head 8-0.

In the third quarter, Hundley was picked off by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu at the UCLA 41 and returned the ball to the UCLA 10. Two plays later Royce Freeman scored his first touchdown of the day.

Mariota almost fumbled but the ball took a fortuitous bounce back into the Oregon signalcaller's hand's and in went Mariota for his second rushing TD of the day.

Mariota had a good day running the ball, finishing up with 75 yards on the ground on seven carries, and unlike the last few games, the Oregon offensive line did not give up a sack.

Perhaps the reason no sacks were given up was because of the return of senior offensive tackle Jake Fisher who has been absent from the line up for the past three games. Fisher's impact seemed to be immediate as the Ducks look far more aggressive and confident, particularly in the getting the run game going.

"Having Jake (Fisher) back is seriously - I think he's the best offensive lineman in the league," said Oregon Offensive Coordinator Scott Frost of Fisher's roll in the game. "He played like it today. Credit goes to our whole offensive line. I think they took it as a challenge. Today we ran the ball up to our standards."

The Oregon running game was indeed improved with Freeman picking up 121 yards on 18 carries and two TDs. Mariota contributed 75 and Thomas Tyner was the tough workhorse for the day grinding out 58 yards on 13 carries. In all, the Ducks had 258 yards of net rushing.

While the Ducks got the running game going, the passing game also took off, particularly with tight end Pharaoh Brown, who ended up with five receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. As a big target, Brown made his presence known on the field giving Mariota a go-to-guy when Mariota needed someone to make a big catch. The pass and catch from Mariota to Brown in the second quarter for a score looked so easy that it made one wonder where the Ducks had been hiding that play all season.

"A lot of the game went through Pharaoh Brown today," Frost said. "We counted on him for a lot of blocks on defensive ends, on linebackers, and then he got involved in the passing game."

Brown was the leading receiver for the Ducks followed by Byron Marshall with five catches for 41 yards. Dwayne Stanford had three grabs for 28 yards while Devon Allen pulled in two passes for 35 yards. Tyner scored on a 24-yard pass play, which was his only reception for the day.

Defensively, the Ducks looked far more poised and balanced during most of the game. Oregon led at halftime 21-10, and the Ducks kept UCLA away from the goal line for the entire third quarter. It wasn't until the fourth quarter with Oregon comfortably in the lead 42-10 that the Bruins were able to cut the gap down. UCLA score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but it was a case of too little, too late.

Safety Erick Dargan was the leading tackler with 11 (10 solos) including a tackle for loss. Troy Hill had nine tackles (eight solos) and two pass break ups. Joe Walker continued his impressive play by recording six tackles (five solos) including two TFLs. Last week, Tony Washington was made goat of the game because of an untimely unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but this week, Washington left all the bowing to the cheerleaders on the sidelines and recorded the crucial on Hundley in the first quarter. DeForest Buckner also had a sack among his two TFLs. Derrick Malone and Sam Kamp also notched TFLs and another tackle was credited to T.J. Daniel and Henry Mondeaux combining the TFL.

Oregon attempted no field goals but Ian Wheeler punted three times for an 38.7 yard average with on ball landing and going out of bounds on the UCLA 3.

UCLA's Hundley was 26-for-37 for 216 yards and two scores while also giving up an interception. Paul Perkins was the leading rusher for the game with 190 yards of net rushing 22 carries while Hundley had 118 yards on 22 carries but lost 28 yards due to sacks giving him a net total 89 yards. Hundley also had one rushing score as did Nate Starks.

Jordan Payton was the leading UCLA receiver with six catches for 61 yards and two TDs.

Just before halftime, TV cameras caught UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich in a highly demonstrative outburst. After the game Mora said that he and his assistant are close friends but both are highly competative especially in a game like today against the Ducks.

"It's just the passion of the game," said Mora of the incident. "How many of you guys have ever been on sidelines coaching a game at any level? I mean even 'pee wee' football coaches are grinding. If you are a competitor, which we are, then those things happen. If you cannot accept that then you don't understand what competition really is."

Up next for Oregon is Washington. The Ducks now are 5-1 for the season 2-1 in conference and looking to beat Washington for the 11th straight year.


•Marcus Mariota passed for a touchdown for the 32nd straight game - every game of his career. His streak is second among current players behind Marshall’s Rakeem Cato (38).
•Jake Fisher returned to his starting left tackle spot after missing the past two games.
•The Ducks did not allow a sack. Oregon has surrendered four sacks in the four games Fisher has started at left tackle and 12 in the two games he has not played.
•Royce Freeman recorded the first 100-yard rushing game of his career, finishing with 121 on 18 carries with a pair of touchdowns. It was the first 100-yard rushing performance by a UO player since Mariota eclipsed the century mark vs. Texas in the 2013 Alamo Bowl.
•Mariota totaled four touchdowns - 2 passing, 2 rushing - extending his school record to 101 for his career.
•Mariota has not thrown an interception in his last 215 attempts, including all 155 this season.
•Sam Kamp made his first career start, filling in for Arik Armstead on the defensive line.
•Thomas Tyner made his first career receiving touchdown.
•Pharaoh Brown led the Ducks with five receptions for 84 yards, including a career-long 31-yard TD.
•Although no Oregon players had faced the Bruins in Pasadena before Saturday, six current Ducks played in UO’s win over Wisconsin in the 2012 Rose Bowl Game. Hroniss Grasu (C) and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB) both started that game, while Jake Fisher, Troy Hill, Derrick Malone Jr. and Tony Washington all saw action off the bench.
•Ekpre-Olomu had the game’s only interception - his second of the year.
•UO improved to 12-0 following a regular season loss, dating to 2007.
•The Ducks have a passing touchdown in 59 straight games, the longest streak in Pac-12 history.
•Oregon has won six straight games against UCLA.
•The Ducks and Bruins faced off at the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009 and 14th time overall. Oregon holds an 8-6 edge in Pasadena.

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