Ducks Exorcise the Cardinal Demons

EUGENE -- How fitting that the day after Halloween, the No. 5 Oregon Ducks (8-1, 5-1) sent the ghosts of seasons past and the Stanford Cardinal (5-4, 3-3) packing following a 45-16 trouncing in front of a happy home crowded treated with the big win.

(PHOTO) No. 24 Thomas Tyner goes into the endzone after making a Stanford defender miss with a pirouette spin culminating a 21-yard run in Oregon's 45-16 win over Stanford at Autzen Stadium on Saturday night. (Photo by Rich Kolbell)

“Our guys did a pretty good job making some big time, key plays to flip the field or stop the drive,” said Oregon headman Mark Helfrich of his team’s performance.” The offense did a decent job of matching them.”

Quarterback Marcus Mariota again stole the show with a decent night throwing (258 yards and two touchdowns) and running (nine carries, 85 yards and two TDs) leading the way for an offense that never seemed to miss a trick. Oregon racked up 525 yards of total offense with the Duck running game accounting for 267 yards. Besides Mariota rushing for two scores, Thomas Tyner came back after missing last week and scored two TDs, one in the second quarter on a one-yard plunge. Tyner’s second TD was on a spectacular 21-yard run complete with spinning pirouette move that left a Standard defender wondering what happened and Tyner in the end zone.

"I thought Thomas Tyner ran really physical tonight,” compliment Helfrich of Tyner's performance.

Royce Freeman was the leading Oregon rusher with 101 yards though he was credited with 98 net yards after getting stuck behind the line of scrimmage on one rush. Tyner finished the night with 63 net yards.

Two Duck receivers pulled in TD passes. Charles Nelson started things off with the first score of the game on a 6-yard TD pass play, which was Nelson’s only catch of the game. Darren Carrington was the leading receiver with four catches for 58 yards including a 25-yard scoring play. Freeman had three catches for 52 yards while Dwayne Stanford also had three catches 27 yards. Tight end Pharaoh Brown pulled down two balls for 36 yards. Keanon Lowe (31) Devon Allen (30) and Byron Marshall (18) also had two pass receptions for the game.

Aidan Schneider kicked a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter which was the highlight of the special team’s night.

The Oregon defense also redeemed itself from the memory of last year’s loss at Stanford. While allowing the Cardinal to gain 428 yards, Stanford’s run game was comparatively non-existent compared to last year when the Cardinal ran for 274 yards, controlling the game clock and keeping Oregon’s offense off the field. This year, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan threw for 237 yards and the Cardinal moved the ball, but only finished one drive with touchdown. The one and only Stanford TD was scored with a little over a minute left in the first half on a one-yard plunge by Patrick Skov. The Cardinal was on the verge of scoring a second TD in the fourth quarter with Oregon leading by what turned out to be the final score of 45-16, but the Duck defense stopped the Stanford drive on the Oregon 1, where Stanford turned the ball over on downs.

While Stanford moved the ball into Oregon territory, three drives ended up with field goals of 47, 43 and 25 yards all kicked by Jordan Williamson. The Ducks were happy to trade field goals for touchdowns.

“It looked like we were going to have touchdowns matched by field goals, which we’ll do all night if we can,” observed Helfrich.”Anytime you can put the ball in Marcus Mariota’s hands and not have it be in Ty Montgomery’s hands, that was the big goal tonight.”

Erick Dargan was again the leading Oregon tackler with 12 total tackles (nine solos). Dargan also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass. The fumble was recovered by Tony Washington, who also had a sack. Christian French also had a sack while Troy Hill, Tyson Coleman and Danny Mattingly each recorded a tackle for loss.

Hill and Washington were also given credit for pass break ups along with Derrick Malone.

Blake Martinez was Stanford’s leading tackler with 14 (nine solos) and recorded the only sack on Mariota. Last year, Mariota was sacked three times. In all, Stanford had four tackles for loss including the sack by Martinez, Kyle Olugbode and James Vaughters had one TFL each while Davis Noor and Peter Kalambay were each credited with a half-sack.

Oregon and Stanford were each flagged seven times. Oregon did win the all-important turnover-to-takeaway statistic. Stanford fumbled once and was intercepted once while Oregon was intercepted by Stanford’s Alex Carter.

Ghost and goblins are created by fear and perhaps it was the fear of Stanford that made so many uneasy about this game. After all, the Cardinal had beaten the Ducks two straight years and knocked the Ducks out of either a shot at a BCS Championship or a Rose Bowl berth, but clearly this Stanford team was not the same as the Ducks had faced over the last few years. Stanford did not run the ball well, and the passing game did not result in touchdowns. Maybe there is a lesson to learn here about fearing the unknown.

Next week though the Ducks have another test – the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City and If anything Oregon fans can take the lesson learned from the Stanford win

Notes:

•Marcus Mariota passed for a touchdown for the 35th straight game - every game of his career. His streak is second among current players behind Marshall’s Rakeem Cato (40).
•Mariota equaled his career-best with two rushing touchdowns and had a season-best 85 yards on the ground. His four total TDs gave him the national lead with 34.
•Mariota has passed for multiple TDs in nine straight games - the longest active streak in the FBS.
•Erick Dargan had a hand in both Stanford turnovers, picking up his team-high fifth interception of the season and forcing a fumble. The senior free safety also led the Ducks with 12 tackles. Dargan’s 11 career picks rank tied for 13th in UO history.
•True freshman Charles Nelson scored his third touchdown of the season and first on offense, hauling in a 6-yard pass for the game’s first score. Nelson’s other TDs have come on punt returns.
•True freshman Aidan Schneider hit the longest field goal by an Oregon kicker in two seasons, connecting from 40 yards out. Schneider, who took over placekicking duties last week at Cal, is now 2-for-2 on attempts this season.
•Royce Freeman came up two yards shy of his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 98 on a game-high 19 carries. He extended his true freshman rushing record to 846 yards.
•Thomas Tyner tied his career-best with a pair of rushing touchdowns.
•Oregon ended Stanford’s streak of holding opponents under 30 points at 31 games - the longest such streak in the FBS.
•The Ducks 525 yards ended the Cardinal’s streak of holding opponents to under 400 yards of total offense at 15 games, which was also the longest in the FBS.
•Mariota has now guided the Ducks to victory against every Pac-12 school during his career.

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