EUGENE, Oregon - After trailing 23-7 with 11:58 left in the first half, Oregon scored 10 unanswered points including a 41-yard field goal by Aidan Schneider, before Colorado added three points right before halftime. Heading to the locker room at Autzen Stadium, the Ducks trail the Buffaloes, 26-17.
The breakthrough play of the half for the Ducks came on fourth down and three yards to go when Danny Mattingly galloped 29 yards to the Buffaloes 28-yard-line following Oregon’s perfectly executed fake punt. Before that play, Oregon was struggling just to secure first down conversions.
Two plays later, Dakota Prukop hooked-up with his receiver Darren Carrington for the 25-yard touchdown. With the momentum-changing score, Oregon cut their deficit to nine points, 23-14, following their second successful extra point with 10:18 left in the first half.
If it wasn’t for their special teams masterpiece, Oregon would be in much bigger trouble than they currently find themselves. Colorado’s offense has not been slowed down and their defense is simply outplaying the Ducks offense right now.
On their first drive Saturday afternoon, Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay gashed the Ducks’ rush defense for 33 yards, setting up the Buffaloes first score. Lindsay plowed in the first points of the day from a yard out, giving Colorado an early 7-0 lead following Oregon’s opening possession three-and-out.
After the sack from Oregon’s De'Quan McDowell, Colorado proceeded to convert a long third down before being stopped inside their red zone. The Buffaloes would settle for a field goal by Chris Graham and 10-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Tony Brooks-James accelerated through the Colorado defense for a 50-yard run after the Buffaloes early dominance. Plays later, Taj Griffin coasted in for the first Oregon score of the day. The point-after was converted, as the Ducks trailed 10-7 with 5:16 left in the first quarter.
With Royce Freeman in street clothes nursing a leg injury, the supremely talented Oregon backfield trifecta will have their opportunity to shine on Saturday. Each one of the three has touched the ball in the half.
The following possession, Lindsay once again came through under pressure on third down and six yards to go with a huge catch out of the backfield to continue the drive. Then, Colorado quarterback Steven Montez connected with his wide receiver Shay Fields for the 7-yard score, placing the Buffaloes ahead, 16-7, following the blocked extra point by attempt Oregon.
Devin Ross caught a pass and dashed 61 yards for the big play completion to buoy the drive. Montez placed an exclamation point on the Colorado possession when he ran in from three yards out. With the touchdown drive, Colorado led Oregon, 23-7, with 11:58 remaining in the second quarter.
Colorado’s secondary is proving to be the most unheralded defensive backfield in the Pac-12 so far this young season. Possessing one big cornerback is advantage, having three NFL-bodies in the secondary is a game-changer. Oregon receivers are getting no separation and No. 4 Michigan had similar difficulties with them last week.
Brooks-James leads the way for the Oregon rushing game with 81 yards on eight carries. Prukop has completed 7-of-13 passes, totaling 92 yards and his touchdown strike. Carrington leads the Oregon pass-catchers with 44 yards on three catches and a touchdown.
Montez has been the star of the young game, completing 17-of-20 for 217 yards and two total touchdowns without a turnover. Ross leads all receivers with five grabs for 96 yards.
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