DUCKS 31 - SUN DEVILS 29
The OREGON DUCKS (7-4, 4-4) took the lead early and never relinquished it against the ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (6-5, 4-4).
Now, ASU will have to throw away their PAC-12 South title hopes as they prepare to face their ancient rival, Arizona, while Oregon has the opportunity to surpass last year’s win total with a victory in the the Civil War.
Justin Herbert: 19/34 - 262 YDS - 2 TD - 2 INT
Justin Herbert played what was potentially his final game in his hometown, and though there were a few costly mistakes, the junior quarterback led his team and its seniors to a hard-fought win over a better-than-their-record Sun Devils squad.
Herbert started out much stronger than his last four games. Unlike those contests, Oregon’s offense marched down the field and scored on their opening drive. The friendly confines of Autzen seemed to be the cure for Herbert’s slow starts (averaging 22.5 points in the first half of games against PAC-12 opponents and 10.75 away.)
With the help of a run game, Herbert was able to amass 249 yards and 2 touchdowns passing in the first half, and even when Aashari Crosswell intercepted and returned his pass for 50 yards Herbert and the Ducks marched down the field in a 71-yard five-play scoring drive that restored Oregon’s two-score lead.
Unfortunately, Herbert played possibly his least productive half of football in his Oregon career, throwing two interceptions and 13 yards to conclude the game.
Conservative playcalling, dropped passes and fewer pass plays (12 compared to 22 in the first half) are a few explanations for Herbert’s Jekyll and Hyde performance, though a few of his mistakes were solely on him. But to Cristobal’s credit, the rest of the team responded well when the offense sputtered.
Dillon Mitchell: 4 rec - 103 YDS - 1 TD
Jaylon Redd: 5 rec - 69 YDS
CJ Verdell: 4 rec - 40 YDS - 1 TD
Justin Collins: 1 rec - 22 YDS
Johnny Johnson III: 3 rec - 20 YDS
Ryan Bay: 1 rec - 4 YDS
Brenden Schooler: 1 rec - 4 YDS
Even playing on the same field as the great N’Keal Harry, Dillon Mitchell had another noteworthy performance. The junior caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown, two yards fewer but one more touchdown than Harry.
His 57-yard TD reception in the second quarter was the game’s most explosive play, and once again, Mitchell made a compelling case for, if not the best, second best receiver in the PAC-12. Imagine a world in which we get another year of Mitchell and Herbert (fingers crossed).
Jaylon Redd had another mixed game as a passcatcher ny amassing 69 yards on five receptions but dropping a sure touchdown pass in the third quarter. Running back CJ Verdell was one of Oregon’s best options in the passing game, continuing a recent trend, as the freshman averaged 10 yards a catch on four receptions and also caught an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Another receiver of note is Justin Collins, the walk-on transfer from Boise State who caught his first pass as a Duck tonight, a 22 yarder that placed Oregon on ASU’s 8-yard line with 18 seconds left in the first half.
Travis Dye: 18 car - 105 YDS
CJ Verdell: 14 car - 70 YDS - 1 TD
Tony Brooks-James: 4 car - 12 YDS
Jaylon Redd: 1 car - 8 YDS - 1 TD
Justin Herbert: 2 car - 4 YDS
CJ Verdell and Travis Dye received the majority of carries, combining for 32 carries, 175 yards and on a touchdown on the ground. The two were exchanged in and out of the game with brutal efficiency, picking up large chunks of yardage with ease especially in the games opening drive.
Once Verdell left the game near the beginning of the fourth quarter with an injury, Dye received the remainder of rushing snaps. Senior Tony Brooks-James was fantastic on special teams, but a fumble after a botched handoff led to Cristobal taking him out of the running game.
Redd scored right before the half on an 8-yard jet sweep, following Justin Collins big reception and thanks in large part to an excellent block by Verdell. The ferocious rushing touchdown makes Redd’s dropped pass in the third quarter easier to forgive.
The turnover gods themselves could not deliver this game to the Sun Devils.
NOTABLE SUN DEVILS
Manny Wilkins: 15/32 - 182 YDS - 2 TD - 1 RTD - 1 Fumble
N’Keal Harry: 7 rec - 105 YDS
Eno Benjamin: 29 car - 149 YDS
Aashari Crosswell: 9 tackles - 1 INT
Cam Phillips: 7 tackles - 1 INT
Brandon Aiyuk: 2 rec - 28 YDS - 1 TD - 104 total return yards
Frank Darby: 1 rec - 22 YDS - 1 TD
Brandon Ruiz: 3/3 FG - 2/2 XP - 11 PTS
In order to win the PAC-12 South, the Sun Devils needed a win against the Ducks since the Utes had defeated the Buffs 30-to-7 earlier in the day.
The game plan was simple: utilize the Wilkins-Harry connection until Oregon’s injured defense breaks. But although these two did get good yardage (combining for 105 of the Sun Devils’ 182 yards in the air), they were largely held in check when you consider the potential they’ve shown this season.
Arizona State has done a handful of things consistently well this season: keep games close, win the turnover battle and make their field goals. And they once again successful in these categories, storming back from a two-score deficit and grabbing four turnovers to the Ducks’ one.
But it just wasn’t enough, as ASU kept close but was never able to take the lead despite kicker Brandon Ruiz’s perfect game. Also, the game’s final turnover (a Justin Hollins strip sack recovered by Cumberlander) ended up sealing their fate.
In the final minutes, ASU had the Ducks at 3rd & 2 on the Sun Devil 37-yard line, a perfect opportunity to make the stop and give their talented kicker a shot at the win. But at the worst possible moment, the Sun Devils committed an offside penalty, giving the Ducks a first down and an opportunity to kill the clock.
Penalties were just one of ASU’s flaws this game (they would finish 8-for-50 YDS to Oregon’s 6-for-55 yards), but it would prove to be the fatal one.
SUN DEVILS PASSING: 182 YDS - 2 TD
SUN DEVILS RUSHING: 142 YDS - 1 TD
TURNOVERS: Ducks 4 - Sun Devils 1
Due to a slew of injuries the Duck defense was expected to have some major difficulties against the Sun Devils’ playmakers.
But every time Oregon was backed into a corner, Oregon’s cornerbacks were there to save the day. When healthy, Harry had been shredding defenses left and right so it was clear that priority number one was to limit his productivity. Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir did a remarkable job of covering him one-on-one.
On one particular drive, early in the third quarter at ASU’s 20-yard line, Graham Jr. broke up two Harry-intended passes, committed a smart PI, and even forced Harry to transition to a defensive player as an overthrown Wilkins pass nearly turned into a Graham interception.
Running back Benjamin was also a clear threat to the Ducks, and like Harry, Oregon was able to prevent him from scoring.
Despite the fact that ASU fumbled the ball five times, Oregon was only able to snatch one of them. Still, Leavitt’s crew was much more effective attacking and wrapping up the passer, collecting four sacks and seven tackles for a loss.
Austin Faoliu poked away the ball on his sack in what should have resulted in an Oregon turnover but instead turned into a first down due to an unsportsmanlike conduct on Justin Hollins and some questionable calls from the PAC-12 refs (shocking, I know.)
Faoliu was injured on the next play of the game, but there was no drop off of impressive d-line play as junior Gus Cumberlander came in and recorded two sacks on the night, both on crucial third down situations. Then, Cumberlander recovered the game-clinching fumble forced out by La’Mar Winston Jr. with mere minutes left in the game.
ALL-GANG GREEN TEAM
- Thomas Graham Jr: 6 passes defended - 4 tackles
- Ugochukwu Amadi: 6 tackles - 1 TFL
- Austin Faoliu: Before the injury, he recorded a strip sack.
- Troy Dye - 12 tackles - 1⁄2 sack
- Gus Cumberlander - 2 sacks - 1 fumble recovery
- La’Mar Winston Jr. - game winning strip sack - 6 tackles
SALUTE TO SPECIAL TEAMS
Oregon looked overall pretty bad on special teams, highlighted by Amadi’s dropped punt return in the third quarter. Brooks-James, on the other hand, did an excellent job flipping the field through solid punt returns, including the crucial return below. Also, Adam Stack hit his lone 28-yard field goal.
Austin Faoliu, CJ Verdell, Travis Dye, and Jordon Scott all left the game for at least a moment due to injury, though Verdell and Faoliu seemed to be more serious than the rest.
- Ugochukwu Amadi
- Justin Hollins
- Haki Woods Jr.
- Tony Brooks-James
- Mattrell McGraw
- Kaulana Apelu
- Elijah Jones
- Devin Melendez
- Tyler Reid
- Pou Peleti-Gore
- Kano Dillon
- DJ Wong
- Jalen Jelks
NEXT UP: OREGON STATE
Friday, 11/23, 1 PM, FS1, Corvallis, Oregon