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Royce Freeman's 4 touchdowns lift Ducks over Huskies for 11th straight year

Royce Freeman rushes for 169 yards and four touchdowns as Oregon cruises to a 45-20 victory over Washington.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

For the 11th straight year, the Oregon Ducks pulled off a dominating win over the Washington Huskies. This year, Royce Freeman led the way with four touchdowns to lift the Ducks to a 45-20 win over the Huskies at Autzen Stadium.

Freeman carried the offense with 169 rushing yards on 29 attempts and four touchdowns. Marcus Mariota also had another big night, completing 24-of-33 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns.

As expected, the Huskies offense was quiet all night long. Cyler Miles threw for just 147 yards and a touchdown along with an interception. John Ross was Washington’s leading rusher with just 44 yards. Lavon Coleman, who led the team with 12 carries, had only 28 yards.

After going 3-and-out on their first drive, the Ducks found the end zone first with a huge 37-yard touchdown run from Royce Freeman to take a 7-3 lead five minutes into the game.

On their first two drives of the game, the Huskies managed to drive into Oregon territory, but the Ducks defense went with the old "bend don’t break" mentality, only giving up a pair of field goals to stay in the lead.

The Ducks then did something very uncharacteristic. They controlled possession of the ball for an extended period of time. Despite being flagged for a personal foul and holding, the Ducks orchestrated a 17-play, 81-yard drive that ate up 6:27 of game clock, capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run by Royce Freeman on the first play of the second quarter.

How do you top a 17-play, 81-yard scoring drive? How about a 12-play, 99-yard drive? The Ducks gave the ball to Freeman four straight times to give them some breathing room to let Marcus Mariota do his thing. Mariota found Pharaoh Brown for a 66-yard reception down to the Washington 11-yard line. An unsportsmanlike conduct flag against Brown backed up the ball to the 26-yard line, but a personal foul against the Huskies on the ensuing play nullified the flag against Oregon. Freeman then found the end zone for the third time in the half as the Ducks jumped out to a 21-6 lead.

For a moment, things got dicey as Matt Wogan missed a 33-yard field goal, giving the Huskies the ball back with 2:36 to play in the half. Washington had a chance to come within a touchdown going into the half (they would start the second half with the ball). However, on the third play of the drive, Cyler Miles threw his first interception of the year. The Ducks capitalized on the opportunity with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Byron Marshall to take a 28-6 lead in the first half.

Oregon picked up right where they left off on their first drive of the second half, keeping up an aggressive tempo. As a matter of fact, one play was snapped so quickly, the ref hadn’t even finished blowing his whistle to START the play. The Ducks continued to turn to Freeman, giving the freshman the ball five straight times to start the drive. Oregon capped off the drive with a perfectly placed pass from Mariota to Dwayne Stanford, who made one of the most athletic plays of the year to come down with the ball in the corner of the end zone. The 6’5’’ receiver needed every inch of his wingspan to come down with the ball, but he made it happen to give Oregon a 35-6 lead early in the third quarter.

On Washington’s next drive, Christ Petersen flipped to the trick play section of his playbook with a reverse pitch to John Ross who took off 32 yards down to the Oregon 11-yard line. When you’re down 35-6, sometimes you just have to get creative. The Huskies were faced with a 4th-and-1 and converted with a touchdown run by Deontae Cooper on the option for Washington’s first touchdown of the night.

The Huskies finally got a much-needed stop, sacking Mariota to force a turnover on downs late in the third quarter. The Huskies managed to drive into Oregon territory on the ensuing drive before Cyler Miles lost control of the ball on the fun, a turnover that proved to be a dagger for the Huskies. After the fumble, Miles would be checked out for concussion symptoms and would not return.

On Oregon’s next drive after the fumble, Royce Freeman ran for his fourth touchdown of the night to put the Ducks up 42-13.

The Huskies answered back with a touchdown of their own as backup quarterback Troy Williams drove Washington 75 yards down the field, capping things off with a 7-yard touchdown run for his first career touchdown.

Royce Freeman initially reached the end zone for his fifth touchdown of the night, but the play was called back on a holding penalty. That allowed Matt Wogan to redeem his earlier miss, hitting a 26-yard field goal with 1:20 left in the game.