Oregon defense rises up, and offense puts away Washington
Ducks win 34-17, now will prepare for big showdown at Stanford
SEATTLE - So, it's Oregon playing at Stanford in the Pac-12 game of the year Nov. 12.
The Ducks helped to set that up, fending off Washington's emotional upset attempt Saturday night in the final game at Husky Stadium before it gets $250 million in renovations.
The Oregon offense, bottled up somewhat as the defense carried the team in the first half, rallied with 17 third-quarter points as the Ducks topped the Huskies 34-17 before 69,407.
Washington seniors were honored. Former coach Don James and the 1991 UW national championship team were feted.
But the Ducks spoiled the party to win for the eighth consecutive time in the series.
The Ducks moved to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in Pac-12 play, and now prepare for the game against the Cardinal (9-0, 7-0), 5 p.m. Saturday at Stanford, Calif. The Huskies fell to 6-3, 4-2.
"It was rocking out there," a victorious UO coach Chip Kelly said. "Our kids enjoyed the environment."
Oregon's defense played well in the first half, and the offense got going in the second half.
The Ducks led only 17-10 at halftime, but quickly extended their lead.
Playing with a brace on his injured right elbow and rushing for 156 yards on 25 carries, LaMichael James started things in the third quarter with a 22-yard run and then ran for 16. Kenjon Barner, who didn't have any carries in the first half, picked up first downs on two third-down runs. Barner scored on a 1-yard run, and it was 24-10.
"We were up 7 at halftime, and to go out and take the ball down the field, we felt like that was a big deal for us," Kelly said.
But the Dawgs wouldn't die on their special night. Washington moved downfield, and then exploded in UO territory: Bishop Sankey ran for 19 yards, QB Keith Price threw to Devin Aguilar for 19 yards, and Price threw to Kasen Williams for a 10-yard TD play, as UW closed within 24-17.
The Huskies had the momentum, especially when forcing third-and-9 at the UO 31. But the Ducks struck with their biggest play, as QB Darron Thomas, a bit off in the game as he continues to come back from a knee injury, threw to tight end David Paulson for 34 yards.
Then Thomas threw 19 yards to Josh Huff, and James rushed for seven to the UW 9. De'Anthony Thomas touched the ball for the first time on offense, scoring on a 9-yard TD run to put UO ahead 31-17.
The Ducks stopped the Huskies on fourth-and-4 just inside UO territory, as defenders got to Price again, and the Ducks marched for even more points to lead comfortably heading into the fourth quarter. Alejandro Maldonado's 35-yard field goal made it 34-17.
Terrance Mitchell made a great play to set up more UO points, stripping a UW receiver and securing the ball at the Husky 23. But Maldonado missed a long field-goal try moments into the fourth quarter.
The Huskies nearly scored in the fourth quarter, as backup QB Nick Montana threw a 53-yard pass with Price momentarily banged up. Back in the game, Price watched as a pass bounced off Kevin Smith's hands in the end zone.
The Ducks held UW to 278 yards, forcing three turnovers (including two first-half picks by Eddie Pleasant) while sacking Price six times and allowing Chris Polk only 80 yards on 24 carries.
"I thought our D-line really created a lot of pressure and we knew with such an efficient quarterback like Keith that we couldn't sacrifice our coverage," Kelly said. "Our guys did a great job."
Said defensive end Dion Jordan; "Our goal was on third down to get off the field. Luckily we got a lot of sacks on first and second downs so we put him in a bad position and he had to stand back there and throw the ball to win the game. That gave us a chance to get pressure on him."
A big deal was also containing Polk. "He runs hard," Jordan added. "We just made it tough for him, all around for their offense. They had to come up with a big play to beat us and this game they didn't have that play."
"We didn't perform enough offensively to win," UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. "You can't have three turnovers, you can't have six sacks, you can't give a team like Oregon short fields and expect to beat them.
"I was not anticipating our inability to block them up front, and some uncharacteristic (bad) throws by Keith."
Thomas, playing with bulky brace on his left knee, went 13 of 25 for 169 yards and a touchdown. Price went 24 of 35 for 143 yards and two scores.
"I thought Darron did a nice job," Kelly said. "He had a couple of drops, but that isn't always the quarterback's fault. He really understands how to manage the game and get the ball in the right kid's hands."
The Ducks' defense played exceptionally in the first half, but it was the UO offense that struggled somewhat - 134 total yards; James 53 yards on seven carries; Thomas 6 of 12 for 75 yards and a score; Barner and De'Anthony Thomas not touching the ball on offense.
The Huskies had 23:45 possession time to UO's 6:15, and ran 43 plays to UO's 22. "The first half went really fast," Paulson said. "We never really had the ball."
Eddie Pleasant had two first-half interceptions, both setting up scores. After Pleasant's first pick, James quieted the hyped-up crowd with an 18-yard TD run.
Oregon had three sacks in the first half.
The Ducks gift-wrapped some points for the Dawgs after one sack and punt. Thomas tried to make a throw and the ball slipped out of his hands, with UW recovering at the UO 32. But Dion Jordan and Wade Keliikipi sacked Price, who also suffered a drop by a receiver. Erik Folk's 42-yard field goal put UW on the board.
De'Anthony Thomas ripped off a 69-yard kickoff return, which led to Maldonado's 40-yard field goal.
After Pleasant's second pick of Price, James rushed for eight and 16 yards and Darron Thomas seven. Thomas rolled out and found Paulson for a 3-yard TD play, and UO led 17-3.
But UW's special teams pinned the Ducks inside their own 15-yard-line. The Ducks punted and Washington took over at the UO 49 with about six minutes to play.
The Huskies moved downfield behind Chris Polk's running and Price's third-down passes and conversions to Tim Tucker and Jesse Callier, and Price threw to Jermaine Kearse for nine yards to the UO 3.
After a short Price run, the QB spun on playaction and found tight end Michael Hartvigson for a 1-yard TD play. The Huskies drew within 17-10.
But the Ducks are great on capitalizing on things, not worrying about time on the clock. Thomas threw 27 yards to Paulson, and then 13 to Daryle Hawkins.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian called three consecutive timeouts to try to rattle Maldonado on his 45-yard field-goal attempt with one second left. It worked, as Maldonado's attempt fell way short.
OREGON 10 7 17 0 -- 34
WASHINGTON 3 7 7 0 -- 17
OREGON -- 1st, 11:46: LaMichael James 18 run (Alejandro Maldonado kick)
UW -- 1st, 7:17: Erik Folk 42 FG
OREGON -- 1st, 6:06: Maldonado 40 FG
OREGON -- 2nd, 10:10: David Paulson 3 pass from Darron Thomas (Maldonado kick)
UW -- 2nd, 0:30: Michael Hartvigson 1 pass from Keith Price (Folk kick)
OREGON -- 3rd, 12:23: Kenjon Barner 1 run (Maldonado kick)
UW -- 3rd, 8:33: Kasen Williams 10 pass from Price (Folk kick)
OREGON -- 3rd, 6:05: De'Anthony Thomas 9 run (Maldonado kick)
OREGON -- 3rd, 1:49: Maldonado 35 FG