EUGENE - Quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James were listed in the starting lineup as the Oregon Ducks took on the Washington State Cougars Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks (6-1, 5-0 Pac-12) were heavily favored against the Cougars (3-4, 1-3). With a game at Washington next week, it was important for the Ducks to get Thomas (knee) and James (elbow) back in the action.
Former Ducks and current NFL players Nick Reed and Matt Toeaina (defensive ends, Chicago) and Drew Davis (receiver, Atlanta) attended the game. Reed is sporting a combination long hair and beard.
Here's a quarter-by-quarter game track:
The Ducks got a defensive stop, and then scored on a blocked punt. Avery Patterson blocked WSU punter Dan Wagner's punt attempt, and Boseko Lokombo recovered and ran 25 yards in for the touchdown. Jackson Rice threw to Alejandro Maldonado for the two-point conversion.
(Wagner was a quarterback at Jesuit High).
The Cougars, with QB Marshall Lobbestael playing for injured Jeff Tuel, rebounded and took a lot of time to drive downfield. But Lobbestael was picked off by Terrance Mitchell at the UO 2, and he returned it 36 yards to the UO 38.
But WSU returned the favor, as Deone Bucannon intercepted Thomas on a dropped pass by Lavasier Tuinei.
On fourth-and-5 at the UO 37, WSU punted. Wagner's kick went into the end zone ... so, the Cougs netted 17 yards on the possession change.
James' first carry went for five yards.
Thomas hit David Paulson for 16 yards and Justin Hoffman for 33, but the UO drive stalled. James got nailed with a loss of one yard on fourth-and-2 at the WSU 18.
Lobbestael led the Cougars deep into UO territory again as the first quarter came to an end.
Lobbestael threw short of a receiver on third down. Andrew Furney hit a 40-yard field goal, as WSU drew within 8-3. The drive took five minutes, and WSU had a time of possession advantage of 13:13 to UO's 2:41.
On fourth-and-3 at the UO 44, the Ducks punted. Obviously, Thomas and James showed some rust early.
The Cougs moved the ball again, as Lobbestael hit Marques Wilson for 16 yards and Jared Karstetter for 19. Officials messed up penalty calls, first charging WSU with false start, and then Oregon with offsides. After offsetting penalties, Lobbestael hit Andrei Lintz for 20 yards to the UO 24.
On a UO blitz by Eddie Pleasant, Dewitt Stuckey nearly picked off Lobbestael. On third-and-7, Lobbestael, under pressure again, threw toward the end zone, and Pleasant intercepted him at the UO 2. He returned 25 yards and a personal foul penalty put the Ducks at the UO 42.
WSU forced third down, when Thomas pulled a sensation play out. Scrambling under pressure toward the right sideline, Thomas threw back across the field to a wide-open Tuinei, who caught the ball and stumbled into the end zone for a 55-yard score. A crushing blow for WSU. The score was 15-3, Ducks.
Isiah Barton returned 48 yards to the UO 47.
Lobbestael hit Rickey Galvin on a screen pass for a WSU first down at the UO 23. A holding call pushed the Cougs back, but Lobbestael hit Lintz for nine yards to the UO 8. On third-and-6, Lobbestael's pass went incomplete.
Furney's 25-yard field goal attempt went wide right. So, the Cougs had made it to the Ducks' 15, 37, 21 and 8 and come away with no points.
Two long Kenjon Barner runs put the Ducks into WSU territory.
On fourth-and-7, Thomas' pass was tipped and Damante Horton intercepted the ball and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown, outrunning a UO lineman in the process. The ball had bounced off Rahsaan Vaughn's hands. Score: UO 15, WSU 10.
Barner ran for 16 yards and Thomas threw to Hoffman for 28 yards as UO looked to score in the final minute of the half. A false start penalty and a sack of Thomas pushed the Ducks back. Thomas sailed a call in the final seconds, but WSU's Casey Locker got called for a personal foul on his hit on Hoffman.
Maldonado's 47-yard field goal attempt was no good. The Ducks led WSU 15-10 at halftime.
The Cougars had 234 yards offense and 15 first downs to UO's 216 and seven. Barner had 61 yards on four carries, James 11 yards on sevne carries.
The Cougs kicked off from the WSU 15, after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the WSU bench at the end of the first half.
Bryan Bennett replaced Thomas at quarterback. On the third play, Bennett hit De'Anthony Thomas on a swing pass, and Thomas ran for a 45-yard score, making it 22-10. It was Thomas' 10th TD, tying Derek Loville's 1986 record for true freshmen.
Rob Beard returned from a purported injury to kick off after UO's score.
Carl Winston ran 18 yards and Lobbestael threw 34 yards to Karstetter, to the UO 14. A run went nowhere, Lobbestael threw incomplete and then Dion Jordan sacked him on third down. Furney's 35-yard field goal made it 22-13.
Led by Bennett, the Ducks moved upfield. He ran 12 yards on third-and-10 to the WSU 40.
Barner ran three yards for a first down at the WSU 30. Bennett ran for 11 yards and then threw a 19-yard TD pass to Tuinei, and it was 29-13.
The WSU offense continued to find success. Carl Winston ran 15 yards on fourth-and-1 to the UO 24. Then, Lobbestael found an open Karstetter for a 24-yard TD play, closing the deficit to 29-19; the Cougs, surprisingly, kicked the extra point rather than try for a two-point conversion and an eight-point deficit. Furney's extra point made it 29-20.
But Oregon put distance between itself and the visitors again. De'Anthony Thomas ripped off a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, his 11th touchdown, setting the UO true freshman record. It was 36-20.
The Cougs moved to the UO 40, but Terrell Turner sacked Lobbestael for minus-seven yards on third down as the third quarter ended.
On fourth-and-14 from the UO 47, WSU punted.
Bennett hit on a nice throw, and Barner ran 28 yards for the touchdown as UO led 43-20.
Galvin ran 9 yards to cap a 13-play, 85-yard Cougars touchdown drive at the 1:50 mark. The Cougs completed a two-point conversion pass to make the score 43-28.
Oregon improved 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Pac-12 with the 15-point victory.