Running game returns, as Oregon bounces back against error-prone Oregon State
CORVALLIS — Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota and De'Anthony Thomas took turns leading the Oregon rushing brigade, and the Ducks took advantage of several Oregon State mistakes to win the 116th Civil War football game 48-24 Saturday afternoon at Reser Stadium.
A week after their first loss of the year, the Ducks returned to their winning fashion, rushing the ball effectively, getting the lead and never looking back.
It was Oregon's fifth consecutive win in the rivalry game.
“This has a huge meaning for us," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "For some reason, the fans don’t seem like they like us much when we up here (in Corvallis), but that’s okay. I think our guys do a great job of blocking that out and playing against a real good team.
"That was a good defense we were able to run the football on."
Barner rushed for 141 yards in the first half and returned in the second half to score his second touchdown.
Thomas tallied two of his three rushing scores with Barner sidelined, as both backs eclipsed the 100-yard mark.
And quarterback Mariota added to his freshman year highlight reel with a 42-yard scoring run he said was a designed run against that particular Oregon State defensive set.
“It was a fun atmosphere," Mariota said, of playing in his first Civil War, and doing it on the road. "The fans can be a little rough, but the guys handled it, and it is just one of those atmospheres where you want to play (in).
“The offensive line did a great job. To run (for more than) 400 yards, it’s a token of what they’ve done. Some guys went down, but others have stepped up and set off some holes. I’m proud of those guys.”
The Beavers showed moments of being competitive, but mistakes —Â including four interceptions and two lost fumbles —Â spelled their doom.
One of two OSU fumbles in the third quarter led to an Oregon touchdown, as the Ducks went ahead by three scores and then cruised.
But the Ducks (11-1, 8-1) won't get to play for the national championship, or even the Pac-12 title.
The Ducks tied Stanford in conference play, but the Cardinal clinched a berth in Friday's Pac-12 championship game by beating UCLA 35-17 (Stanford, the North champ and 10-2 overall, will play host to South winner UCLA, 9-3 overall and 6-3 in Pac-12 games, for the conference crown, 5 p.m. Friday, FOX).
Any slim hopes the Ducks had of getting back to the national title game disappeared when Notre Dame beat USC 22-13 Saturday night in Los Angeles.
A BCS bowl bid still seems likely for the Ducks — probably to the Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 3 at Glendale, Ariz.
The BCS match-ups will be announced Sunday, Dec. 2.
The Beavers (8-3, 6-3) will play Nicholls State in the makeup of an earlier postponed game. It'll be 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at Reser.
“We have another opponent," OSU coach Mike Riley said, "and we don't have any time to pout and feel sorry for ourselves. Nicholls State is going to come in here and try to beat us, and we have to prepare accordingly.
"I think it will be a good thing, and I know that everyone is hurting about this one, especially our seniors. This will be a great opportunity for the team to bounce back and have a game where we come out and really put the pressure on ourselves to execute well.”
Barner wound up with 198 yards rushing on 28 carries Saturday. Thomas had 122 yards on 17 rushes. Mariota totaled 85 yards on eight attempts.
Oregon outgained Oregon State 432 yards to 82 on the ground.
Mariota also completed 17 of 24 passes for 140 yards and one TD.
"They did everything we expected them to," Beavers defensive back Jordan Poyer said. "Their tempo is fast, and if you aren’t in the right spot just once, then you will get burned. You can’t give them second chances, which I think is something we struggled with."
The Oregon backs "were running sideline to sideline," Poyer said. "When they would get the ball they would continue to push forward and take advantage of the possessions. We needed to tackle better, which we emphasized on all week, but they have two great running backs and one great offense."
Trailing 20-10 at halftime after missed opportunities, the Beavers responded with a touchdown to open the second half —Â keeping upset hopes alive for the Corvallis fans, whose team was about a 10-point underdog most of the week.
On the early-third quarter drive, quarterback Sean Mannion, forced to scramble on third down, threw the ball in the direction of Markus Wheaton, and UO's Terrance Mitchell drew a pass interference penalty. Later, tight end Connor Hamlett made a good catch and dive for a first down. Mannion found a wide-open Wheaton for 37 yards to the UO 2.
Storm Woods then scored his second TD on a 2-yard run as OSU drew within three points.
Barner didn't start the second half —Â he took a jarring hit late in the first half. But even without him, the Ducks regained the momentum, and things got testy as the intensity ramped up.
Thomas ran well as Oregon scored to push their lead to 27-17, and he stomped on an OSU player during the drive, drawing a personal foul.
Mariota hit Josh Huff, who had a terrific catch, for 28 yards and a first down on a key play in the march.
Thomas ran for 12 yards, but appeared to fumble; however, the Ducks retained possession on review. The Ducks later got called for two holding penalties on the same play, (one declined), but Mariota hit Daryle Hawkins for seven yards, Byron Marshall ran for seven and then scrambled for 11 on fourth-and-3.
Marshall fumbled, but the Ducks recovered. Then Thomas scored his second TD on a 5-yard run, and it was 27-17.
The Ducks kicked off short, and 6-4, 250-pound Devon Kell muffed the ball and fumbled, the Ducks recovering at the OSU 34.
Despite an ineligible receiving penalty, the Ducks scored again; on fourth-and-5, Thomas scooted for a 29-yard TD run, as the Ducks went ahead 34-17.
Barner would return, after Thomas' good work on the two UO scoring drives.
The Beavers forced a punt, followed by another bad mistake — Wheaton tried to catch the punt while sliding about midfield; it bounced off him, and UO's Keanon Lowe recovered.
Oregon State forced another punt, but Mannion threw his second interception, by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and the Ducks responded with points.
Barner scored on a 1-yard TD run, and it was 41-17 — the Ducks had blown the game open, thanks largely to OSU mistakes.
Kiko Alonso added to UO's joy and OSU's misery, picking off Mannion for OSU's fifth turnover.
Mariota later passed a 2-yard TD pass to B.J. Kelley. Score: 48-17.
Oregon's Erick Dargan snuffed out a long Mannion pass inside the UO 5 midway through the fourth quarter to deny the Beavers on another drive.
Barner immediately ripped off a 52-yard run into OSU territory, and moments later backup QB Bryan Bennett took the controls of the Oregon offense.
It was a familiar situation for the Ducks —Â taking advantage of a big lead to sit down Mariota and other starters.
The Ducks rediscovered their swagger early in the game, after last week's overtime loss to Stanford, rushing for 250 of their 312 yards of first-half offense.
Barner topped 100 yards in the first quarter, and Mariota proved to be elusive, although he misfired on some throws.
If not for another Alejandro Maldonado missed field goal, the Ducks would have put 23 points on the board.
The Beavers, however, had multiple first-half mistakes — Scott Crichton a missed tackle-for-loss on Mariota that Ducks took advantage of; Wheaton's drop on third-and-2; Mannion's interception inside the UO 5; and then, being stymied while driving for a touchdown late in the half.
Barner, who had been held to 131 yards in the previous two games, appeared to return to the form he had showed against USC. The Ducks struck first when Mariota, executing a pretty quarterback draw, ran up the middle for a 42-yard touchdown run.
Always trying for a two-point conversion, if the opportunity arises, the Ducks failed on a pass attempt.
After a stop, the Ducks drove downfield again, thanks to Barner's 33-yard run on fourth down. The Beavers stopped Barner on third-and-17, and then Maldonado went wide right on his 33-yard attempt.
OSU's Terron Ward took a direct snap on fourth-and-1 at the OSU 29, and converted the first down. The Beavers had another drive stall, however, on a penalty and a recovered fumble on third down.
The Ducks punted, and OSU got on the board in four plays, the first being a 40-yard bomb from Mannion to Cooks. Woods plowed in for a 7-yard TD run, and OSU went up 7-6.
There would be more OSU mistakes.
The Beavers forced fourth-and-7 at the OSU 38, but Crichton let Mariota wiggle loose from his tackle attempt, and the QB found Will Murphy for eight yards.
It was a huge play, as Thomas later scored on a 2-yard TD run and UO went ahead 13-7.
On OSU's next possession, facing third-and-2 at the UO 34, Wheaton dropped Mannion's pass — it would have been a first down — and the Ducks' Michael Clay and Mitchell stoned OSU fullback Clayton York on fourth down.
Oregon marched to score again, the key play a Mariota 33-yard run and Barner's second-effort, 7-yard run.
Barner scored on a 1-yard run, as UO made it 20-7.
Again, the Beavers moved into UO territory. Mannion appeared to audible on a first-down play at the UO 38, and Brian Jackson picked off his deep pass at the UO 5.
The Beavers forced a punt, but not before safety Anthony Watkins put a jarring hit on Barner's back/neck (he walked slowly off the field), and had more than three minutes to score, but it wasn't the most efficiently executed final drive.
Quickly, the Beavs moved to the UO 38 on Mannion's 9-yard pass to Brandin Cooks — it was measured for a first down, with OSU inches short. The next three plays: Woods for zero yards, Ward for minus-2 and O-lineman Josh Andrews notching his second procedure penalty. Valuable time wasted, despite Mannion hitting Hamlett for 14 yards on fourth down.
A couple more passes and incompletion forced OSU to settle for Trevor Romaine's 36-yard field goal to end the half.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
OREGON 6 14 14 14 -- 48
OSU 7 3 7 7 -- 24
OREGON — Marcus Mariota 42 run (pass failed) 13:14
OSU — Storm Woods 7 run (Trevor Romaine kick) 1:28
OREGON — De'Anthony Thomas 2 run (Alejandro Maldonado kick) 13:19
OREGON — Kenjon Barner 1 run (Maldonado kick) 8:02
OSU — Romaine 36 FG 0:01
OSU — Woods 2 run (Romaine kick) 10:41
OREGON — Thomas 5 run (Maldonado kick) 6:59
OREGON — Thomas 29 run (Maldonado kick) 5:15
OREGON — Barner 1 run (Maldonado kick) 12:51
OREGON — B.J. Kelley 2 pass from Mariota (Maldonado kick) 10:29
OSU —Â Micah Hatfield 6 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick)
Att. — 47,249