On a day where sophomore Royce Freeman accumulated 292 yards of total offense and the Oregon offense gained 410 yards on the ground alone, it still wasn’t enough for the Ducks to overcome Washington State.
Quarterback Jeff Lockie’s pass was intercepted by Cougars safety Shalom Luani in double overtime, sealing a 45-38 victory for Washington State (3-2, 1-1), their first at Autzen Stadium since 2003 and first over Oregon (3-3, 1-2) since 2006. Lockie, who was 13-for-22 with 123 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, played a majority of the snaps on Saturday, but the offense relied heavily on Freeman.
The sophomore continued to show why he’s Oregon’s workhorse by rushing 27 times for 246 yards and two touchdowns and catching three of Lockie’s passes for 46 yards and another touchdown. Freshman Taj Griffin aided the rushing effort significantly for the second straight week with 96 yards of his own on 11 carries.
After trading leads, the Ducks finally gained some control on Freeman’s second touchdown run with 8:20 left in the fourth quarter which gave them a 31-21 lead.
Despite holding that 10-point lead late into the fourth quarter the Ducks couldn’t put the Cougars away. After Tyree Robinson recovered a Washington State fumble, Freeman mysteriously didn’t play on the next series as the Ducks went with Kani Benoit and Griffin.
Griffin ran out of bounds on 3rd and 2 and stopped the clock, forcing a punt. Freeman returned on the next series but was stopped on 3rd and short, forcing another punt that led to the tying score.
In overtime, Freeman set the pace with a 16-yard carry to set up a Bralon Addison touchdown catch, but he was stifled on the next series, leading to Lockie’s fourth down interception.
After the game, offensive coordinator Scott Frost said he wasn’t sure whether Lockie or Taylor Alie, who had only two pass attempts all game, would give the Ducks the best chance to win at Washington next week if Vernon Adams remains sidelined. It seems that the mystery at quarterback will remain just that in the coming weeks.
If anything, it seems a given that Freeman will continue to shoulder the offensive load along with Griffin. But against a stout Huskies defense that just shut down USC on Thursday night in Los Angeles, it’s no guarantee the Ducks will see the same kind of success on the ground next week in Seattle.