Oregon’s Magical Season Ends on a Sour Note

ARLINGTON, Texas – Oregon’s second chance at a national championship ended with a 42-20 loss at the hands of Ohio State in the inaugural NCAA Championship game. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 346 yards and four touchdowns in a dominating performance that overwhelm Oregon.

(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) runs the ball against Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis (59) during the fourth quarter in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

“Well, they're an outstanding defense,” observed Oregon’s Mark Helfrich. “We knew that coming in, and they did some different things.”

Marcus Mariota may have played his last game in an Oregon uniform by throwing for 333 yards and two touchdowns but even his magic was not enough to turn the tide as Ohio State seemed to be faster in executing plays on defense. Oregon’s running game started off promising but once the Buckeyes found their own pace, the Ducks could only rack up 132 yards of rushing.

“You know, obviously it hurts,” said Mariota of his feelings after the loss, then he went on to talk about whether he’ll return. “I'm sure it will weigh in a little bit, but there's a lot of other things that have to play into that decision. There's starting grad school, coming back for another year to improve, there's a lot of other things that could bring me back. It's just not specifically this loss.”

Thomas Tyner was the starting back for the Ducks and finished the night with 62 net yards on 12 carries. Mariota had 10 carries but only averaged 3.9 yards a carry and finished with 39 net yards. Royce Freeman was held to a season low with 22 yards on 10 carries.

Byron Marshall had a big game receiver with eight receptions for 169 yards and two TDs including a 70 yards scoring play. Dwayne Stanford had 61 yards of receiving on four grabs and Keanon Lowe scored the first touchdown of the game on a 28-yarder. “I think they just played their game, to be honest,” said Marshall of Ohio State’s performance. “We tried to play ours. It didn't really work out as planned. But I mean, we can't really take credit away from Ohio State. They just came out ahead and they really just bought out and played an unbelievable game. They deserved to win this one. I think they just went out and just tried to put as many points on the board in the first, second, third and fourth quarter, so I wouldn't say they tried to flip the script, but they just went out there and played their game.”

Aidan Schneider kicked two field goals from 26 and 23 yards out.

Defensively, it was a long night as Elliott weaved his way around defenders, especially in the second half. Reggie Daniels was the leading tackler with nine tackles (seven solos).

A bright spot for the Duck defense is that they forced three fumbles and had one interception.

Arik Armstead also had nine total tackles (five solos) and had a fumble recovery. Rodney Hardrick also forced a fumble as did Alex Balducci. Troy Hill and Tyson Coleman had fumble recoveries. The Ducks recorded five tackles for loss. Chris Seisay, Erick Dargan Coleman and Danny Mattingly each a TFL while Tony Washington and Balducci were given for a half sack each. Mattingly also had the interception.

Even though the Ducks had the better turnover-to-takeaway ratio, (4-0) they could only capitalize on the mistakes for 10 points.

The loss was hard for the Ducks to take but inside the lockerroom following the game, a somewhat shell-shocked Oregon team credited Ohio State for being better prepared for the big stage.

Now the Ducks will go back and focus on building from this year. It’s likely Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner will move on, but even when pressed in the postgame media conference, he still did not give tip his hand on which way he will go in the next few week.

It was great run for the Ducks and there are a lot of lessons for the coaches and players to learn from this game, after all it is only two and half months until spring football workouts.

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