Defense continues to improve in win over OSU

Oregon turns in another stingy defensive effort en route to a 47-19 win over rival Oregon State.

CORVALLIS — After walking off the field with a 47-19 win and its seventh straight victory over arch rival Oregon State on Saturday night in Corvallis, Oregon had plenty to celebrate on both sides of the ball.

While quarterback Marcus Mariota turned in another spectacular performance and accounted for six touchdowns, the defense stopped Oregon State in its tracks on its first five drives and forced two turnovers via downs before halftime.

Oregon State managed a field goal before the break, but for the most part the Sean Mannion-led Beavers couldn’t get anything going offensively until it was too late. The Ducks held them to 362 yards of total offense on the night.

“Anytime you can limit those guys to those points and numbers it’s big,” UO head coach Mark Helfrich said. “The back and forth of us scoring touchdowns and field goals in the first half and stopping them to nothing, that’s the way you like that ratio from our standpoint.”

Mannion struggled from the get-go as the Ducks secondary mobbed his targets. The senior finished 19-of-39 for 162 yards and a touchdown in his final game and was sacked twice on the night by Christian French and Torrodney Prevot. The only player able to penetrate the Ducks defense was running back Storm Woods, who finished with 128 yards rushing and a touchdown in the loss. He also led the Beavers in receiving with six catches for 58 yards.

“I think anytime you get early stops on defense and let the offense get into a rhythm, and get in a groove, and get going is really big for us,” defensive coordinator Don Pellum said. “We were real excited defensively. We were hitting cylinders early, we were reading things the right way and we gave up some plays but we were able to get stops.”

Coming out of halftime, the Ducks hadn't lost any of their attitude and forced a quick punt. And while back-to-back touchdowns by the Beavers followed, the game was well out of reach as the offense posted scores in three of their first four drives in the second half to keep pace.

The effort was solid across the board. Linebackers Tyson Coleman and Derrick Malone led the Ducks with five tackles apiece, followed by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Troy Hill and Prevot with four each. 14 players had multiple tackles on the night.

“We gave up a little more running yards in situations than we wanted to,” said. “But I think a lot of the other things they wanted to do on offense we were able to counter.”

After surrendering 545 yards against the Beavers in last season’s 36-35 nail biter at Autzen Stadium, the Ducks defense held them to 362 yards total, one week after holding Colorado to 226 total yards. The Beavers and Buffaloes were far from juggernauts in conference play in 2014, but the defense as a unit is playing its best ball of the season, and at the right time too with the Pac-12 Championship game up next.

“I think the last 2-3 games we’ve gotten closer to where we really want to be,” Pellum said. “I think it’s coming.”

Next Friday the Ducks have a date with the one team that’s beaten them this season in Arizona. If they win, they’ll not only claim redemption and the conference championship, but they’ll almost certainly be included in the first College Football Playoff in January.

Pellum was clear after the game that the real work starts on Monday when they start going over film to prepare for the Wildcats. Some players brushed off the idea that they wanted a rematch, but others, like Ekpre-Olomu, admitted that he’s happy his team will get the chance to correct the one blemish on the their record.

"Our one loss was against them, " he said. "So, I mean, it's only right that you beat the team that beat you to get to the next place."

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