For over three-and-a-half quarters it seemed Oregon might have done enough to keep Washington State’s offensive attack at bay and earn a much needed home victory. But the Cougars (3-2, 1-1), who at times have become synonymous with late game gaffs over the years, rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes to stun and proceeded to stun the Ducks in double overtime, 45-38.
Luke Falk completed 50 of his 74 pass attempts for 505 yards and five touchdowns, including the eventual 4-yard game winner to Robert Lewis, who recovered a ball that had been punched loose from River Cracraft’s hands at the goal line in double overtime.
The play was aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Tyree Robinson a few plays earlier to put the Cougars inside the 10 yard line.
Earlier, Falk’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Dom Williams with just one second left in regulation tied the game on a clutch final drive that saw him complete two big third and long situations another fourth down conversion just moments before he found Williams in the corner.
He connected with 10 different receivers, his favorite targets being Cracraft, who had nine receptions for 85 yards, and Gabe Marks who had eight catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cougars also saw some production in the ground game from Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks, who combined for 15 carries and 132 yards.
There were some bright spots for Oregon (3-3, 1-2) on Saturday, particularly up front where the Ducks were able to register seven sacks on Falk during the contest. Senior DeForest Buckner had two of those sacks and five other Ducks, including Torrodney Prevot who had nine tackles (five solo) on the night, were able to get to Falk as well.
A drive in the third quarter saw Falk go down on three consecutive plays, setting up a touchdown drive on the next Oregon possession. The Ducks also forced two fumbles on the day, both of which they recovered.
One noticeable addition to the defense was Charles Nelson at safety. A move that had been rumored over the spring and summer after an electric freshman season on offense and special teams, Nelson made his presence known with some big hits and capable coverage in his debut. He led the team in tackles with 12 (six solo).
But it proved to be for naught in the end.
The Ducks take on Washington next Saturday in Seattle. Although they aren't as explosive of an offense as the Cougars, the Huskies are riding high after a victory over USC and they have a tougher defense that could pose some problems for the offense. If the offense is slowed next week, the work will fall back on a shaky defense that has yet to find its balance in 2015.