Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon beats Arizona State for the ninth straight time, 61-55 in triple overtime.

TEMPE, ARIZ. – The Oregon Ducks played about as well as they could and managed to get the Arizona State Sun Devils into triple overtime, just in time for Arrion Springs to make the defensive play of his career – an interception in the end zone, ending the game with a 61-55 Oregon win.

The Ducks scored on explosion plays by Royce Freeman (64-yard run); Darren Carrington on a Vernon Adams’ pass of 39 yard; a 62-yard TD run by Kani Benoit and a 100-yard kickoff return by Charles Nelson.

The star though on this night was Big Play VA, Vernon Adams throwing for 315 yards on 23-of-40 passing, four touchdowns and one interception. Going into the game, the Ducks knew that ASU would blitz, and Adams’ quick feet made him an elusive target. Still though, the Sun Devils were able to get to him five times.

The play of the game though had to be at the end of regulation play when the Ducks were facing fourth down on the ASU 8 with 12 seconds left to go in the game. Adams was flushed from the pocket, avoided two tacklers and just as he was being tackled heaved the ball into the endzone where Stanford hauled it in for the score and the possibility to tie the game with an extra point. The kick by Aidan Schneider was good and what looked like Oregon’s fourth loss of the season, gave the Ducks a chance to continue on in overtime.

Freeman was the Ducks’ leading rusher with 112 net yards on 15 carries. Darren Carrington had 107 yards on five receptions. Besides Carrington, Adams had TD throws to Bralon Addison in overtime, and two TDs to Dwayne Stanford, both in overtime.

Aidan Schneider kicked two field goals of 24 and 37 yards.

The Sun Devils looked like they were certain to win as they racked up 742 yards of total offense (Oregon had 501). Mike Bercovici was 32-of-53 for 398 yards, five TDs but he was intercepted twice. Demario Richard (135 yards) and Kalen Ballage (127 yards) went over the 100-yard mark for the game. Richard had one TD rushing while Bercovici with another among his 58 net yards rushing.

Tim White had nine catches for 97 yards and a TD. D.J. Foster added 87 yards receiving while Devin Lucien (77 yards) and Gary Chambers (70 yards) each had one TD reception.

The Oregon defense sacked Bercovici four times.

However, the Duck defense didn’t seem to be able stop ASU as evidenced by the fact ASU had 398 yards passing and 344 yards rushing. At times, Bercovici, who is not the most consistent passer in college football, was the Ducks best friend by over throwing receivers. What also aided Oregon was ASU’s field goal kicking; Zane Gonzalez missed three FG attempts in the first half. Gonzalez did hit a 33-yarder in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 34.

The biggest play of the overtime periods came on the final play in the third overtime when Springs leaped high in the air to record Oregon’s second interception of the game. The Ducks were ahead at the time by six points because they had gone for an ill-fated two point conversion that failed when the ball was snapped directly to Addison but he was tackled on the conversion attempt. All ASU had to do was score and kick the extra point, but Springs’ timely play ended that.

The Oregon defense, given its limitations played about as well as it could. Charles Nelson again shows why he is such a great football player as he was the team’s high tackler with 14 (13 solos) plus he was credited with four break ups. Reggie Daniels had eight solo tackles and nearly had an interception that was ruled a break up when the play was reviewed. DeForest Buckner continued to be a dominant force had two tackles for loss, including one sack. Joe Walker also had two TFLs (one sack). Henry Mondeaux Tui Talia and Alex Balcucci also had sacks. Terrodney Prevot was given credit for a TFL. Tyree Robinson had an interception and a break up.

ASU’s leading tackler was Jordan Simone with nine solos including a sack. Salamo Fiso had six solos including 2.5 TFLs (one sack). Laiu Moeakiola had a sack as did Antonio Longino and Viliami Latu (0.5 sack). Kareem Moore had the solo ASU interception.

In some ways the Ducks may have played their best game of the year in order to stay in the game and make the big plays needed to win in overtime.

The Defense still struggles, whether it is because of preparation or coaching, there are still many problem areas. A serious review will have to be made of this defensive coaching staff because while there has been some improvement, the Ducks won this game tonight because of some great plays on offense, some luck and some missed opportunities on the part of Arizona State.

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