“Just extremely proud of our teams and our coaches,” said Mark Helfrich of his team’s performance. “Obviously, the entire kind of University of Oregon community for how they represented down here.”
Oregon’s defense stood out which is a lot to say considering the Oregon offense scored 59 points. The Ducks sputtered on their first possession but when Florida State drove into the redzone, it looked like it might be a long night for the Ducks. However, the Duck defense held firm and caused the Seminoles to kick a 28-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo. The Ducks took off on the next time they had the ball and drove 73-yards culminating with Royce Freeman diving into the endzone to make the score 6-3 followed up by a successful point after pass from Taylor Alie to Christian French and the score read 8-3.
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“We take great pride in our physical conditioning,” comment Helfrich. “That was something going into it we wanted to, in our kind of way, exploit. They didn't play a ton of guys defensively, and it's hard to endure. I don't know exactly what it ended up being play wise. I think it was high 40s in the first half.”
Oregon’s place kicker Aidan Schneider added a 28-yard field goal just after the second quarter started putting the Ducks up by eight, 11-3. Aguayo chipped a second FG from 26-yards out cutting Oregon’s lead to five (11-6) but FSU could not overcome the 5-point margin as the game went on.
Thomas Tyner seeing his first action in several games came in relief of Freeman and scored the second Oregon TD in the on another 1-yarder and following the successful PAT Oregon was up by 12, 18-6.
“A healthy Thomas helps everybody out,” said Helfrich of Tyner. “It helps Marcus. It helps Royce. It helps Byron be truly versatile and not have to lean one way or the other as far as a game plan approach. We were very excited when we thought – we talked kind of during the Bowl prep he was having a great last couple weeks. He's had a couple of hardnosed, tough runs going against the defense quite a bit, and there were a couple of good little battles in there.”
FSU’s Karlos Williams cut the Oregon lead back to five with just 36 seconds left in the game following the PAT and things started to look really interesting because Marcus Mariota gave up his third interception of the season with just 16 seconds left on the clock and FSU with the ball on FS-49. FSU QB Jameis Winston directed the drive to the Oregon 37 where Aguayo attempted a 54-yard FG but the ball hit the left goal post and bounced back to Erick Dargan and the half ended Oregon leading 18-13.
The turnover woes hit FSU on the first drive of the third quarter. The Seminoles received the kickoff and were driving down the field when running back Delvin Cook fumbled the ball forced and recovered by Oregon linebacker Derrick Malone. The Ducks took over, picked up the pace of the game. Mariota hit Darron Carrington on a spectacular 34-yard pass play and the drive finished up with Freeman going into the endzone from 3-yards out; with the PAT it was 25-13 Oregon.
“They've got a tremendous football team,” said FSU’s Jimbo Fisher. “Congratulations. Wish them the best of luck further in the tournament. They played a heck of a game. They took advantage of the opportunities which we gave, and they created, and played a complete football game.”
Winston led the following drive that lasted 10 plays and covered 75 yards finishing off on an 18-yard TD strike from Winston to Travis Randolph, and with the successful PAT the score was 25-20, with 8:07 left in the third quarter. That would be as close as the Seminoles would come.
From then on it was all Oregon. On the ensuing possession the Ducks went hyper-fast with Mariota and Carrington again hooking up, this time on 65-yard scoring play. Following the PAT it was Oregon 32-20. The Seminoles got the ball again but five plays into the drive, Winston hit Cook on a short pass, who then fumbled again and the ball was recovered by Oregon’s Reggie Daniels.
The Ducks drove down the field and the lethal combination of Mariota-to-Carrington struck again, this time on a 30-yard scoring playing with Schneider, who had doing all the place kicking, again splitting the uprights for the PAT and putting Oregon up 39-20.
“I think that's, again, the most important part of understanding what we're all about is it's we,” said Mariota of Carrington. “Sometimes guys can take over the game and never touch the football. This game happened to be his (Carrington) game, and when he had the opportunity to make those plays, it was huge, and he's grown up a ton, realizing early on that I can affect the game without the ball in my hands.”
Disaster struck again for FSU, this time on a productive drive that had gone for eight plays but on fourth and five on the Oregon 30, Winston dropped back to avoid the pass rush, slipped and fumbled the ball. Oregon’s defensive end, Tony Washington scooped the ball up and ran 58-yards for the score and the route was on as Oregon led 45-20. Schneider’s PAT was blocked but that was about the only bright spot for the Seminoles at that point in the game.
If things were bad enough on the next drive, Winston was picked off by Dargin and Oregon had the ball again as time ran out of the third quarter. Mariota would finish the drive off with a 23-yard TD run and Schneider resumed connecting on PATs and now early into the fourth quarter it was Oregon 52-20.
The turnover bug was still biting on the very next drive, Winston completed a pass to Jesus Wilson, but Oregon linebacker Rodney Hardrick stripped the ball from Wilson and Duck linebacker Tyson Coleman recovered.
Oregon’s scored on its possession when Tyner burst into the clear and ran 21 yards for the TD and following the PAT it was 59-20.
Tyner finished the game rushing for 124 yards on 13 carries and two TDs. Mariota had 62 yards on eight carries and despite all the talk about the speed of the FSU defense building up the game, Mariota was not sacked. Freeman carried the ball 12 times for 44 yards. Kani Benoit had 40 with a long of 35 yards.
Oregon had a total of 301 yards rushing, Cook was the leading Seminole rusher with 103 yards on 15 carries as FSU finished with 180 yards rushing.
Mariota was 26-for-36, for 338 yards and two TDs and one interception. The other Heisman Trophy winner in the game, Winston was effective throwing 29-for-45, 348 yards, one TD and one interception. The Oregon defense was able to sack Winston twice.
Carrington was the leading receiver for the game with seven receptions for 165 yards and two scores. Evan Baylis had six key receptions to keep drives alive and had 71 yards receiving.
Randolph was the top FSU receiver with six catches for 96 yards and one TD.
Aguayo was 2-for-3 in FGs, being good from 28 and 26 yards. Schneider was good on his sole attempt from 26 yards out.
Defensively, Oregon was led in tackling by Troy Hill with nine tackles (seven solos) including one TFL. Dargan had six solo tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. Tony Washington had a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a 50-yard return for touchdown in his night of work. Christian French also had a sack and forced a fumble.
P.J. Williams was the leading FSU tackler with 14 (eight solos) including a TFL.
Next up onto Dallas and the NCAA Championship game.
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