DUCKS 35 - HUSKIES 31
The Oregon Ducks (6-1, 4-0) battled the Washington Huskies (5-3, 2-3) in Seattle and emerged victorious, 35 to 31. The Duck defense played its worst game of the season but showed up big in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Both sides knew the stakes coming into this one. An Oregon win drastically increased the Ducks’ chances at clinching the North and a Washington victory would keep the Huskies alive in the race, just one game behind the Ducks and in possession of the tiebreaker.
At halftime, things looked bleak for the Ducks who trailed 21 to 14 after allowing multiple explosive Huskies plays and stalling on offense. And after falling behind by 14 points in the third, it appeared Cristobal’s team was heading for another conference road loss, but some powerful running by Cyrus Habibi-Likio alongside an inspired fourth quarter defensive stand from the Ducks amounted to a game for the ages.
Justin Herbert: 24/38 - 280 YDS - 4 TD
The hometown hero added another memorable victory to his legacy, though at times the senior quarterback looked overwhelmed. Oregon’s opening drive consisted of 12 plays, 13 if you count the one with the over-head snap that Herbert was able to corral (I suppose it’s a good thing he’s had so much practice with them). Six of those plays were passes amassing a total of 56 yards and one Spencer Webb touchdown.
But after an impressive opening drive, in which he was a perfect 6 of 6, Herbert led the Ducks to three consecutive three-and-outs, missing all six of his passing attempts during this stretch. A 12-yard completion to Jaylon Redd with 8:57 left in the second quarter snapped the QB’s streak of misses and eventually Herbert was able to regain his composure, leading his team on a 69-yard, 8-play drive which featured two completions to Johnny Johnson III for a total of 30 yards and a 16-yard touchdown screen pass to Redd that evened the score at 14-14.
Oregon’s final drive of the first half was a frantic flurry of six pass plays that picked up 65 yards in less than a minute and ended in Herbert overthrowing a Duck in the end zone as time expired. Herbert was much more accurate in the second half, hitting 10 of his 14 targets and adding two more touchdowns to his tally. The second half emergence of the run game played a huge part in Oregon’s comeback, not only because it wore down the defense but also because it took some of the pressure off Herbert.
Johnny Johnson III: 5 rec - 90 YDS - 29 long
Mycah Pittman: 2 rec - 48 YDS - 36 long - 1 TD
Jaylon Redd: 5 rec - 36 YDS - 16 long - 2 TD
Spencer Webb: 2 rec - 31 YDS - 19 long - 1 TD
Brenden Schooler: 1 rec - 23 YDS
Bryan Addison: 2 rec - 16 YDS - 13 long
Cyrus Habibi-Likio: 3 rec - 15 YDS - 9 long
CJ Verdell: 2 rec - 12 YDS - 7 long
Travis Dye: 2 rec - 9 YDS - 7 long
The veteran receiving corps of Johnny Johnson III, Brenden Schooler, and Jaylon Redd accounted for 149 of Oregon’s 280 receiving yards. All five of Johnson III’s catches gained more than 10 yards and the junior receiver finished the day with a team high 90 yards through the air. Schooler may have only caught one pass in the game ( a 23-yard catch in Oregon’s opening drive) but his blocking was a welcome addition to the team after missing much of the season due to injury.
Redd continued his six-game streak of catching at least one touchdown by catching two touchdowns against the Huskies: his first took place late in the second quarter off a screen pass for the 16-yard score, and the second came off an rpo in which Redd motioned to the right and carried the short reception to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Mycah Pittman brought in only two catches though he was targeted six times. However, most of Pittman’s incompletions were due to off-target passes, and one of his two catches became the true freshman’s first TD as a Duck. A 12-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 got things going for Pittman in the third quarter, and later in the quarter on 4th-and-3 he motioned toward the formation and then reversed direction for a screen pass that resulted in a 36-yard touchdown.
Spencer Webb has a big opportunity in front of him now that Oregon’s top two tight ends have been ruled out for the season. On the first score of the game, Webb made a very Breeland-esque play when he caught his second career touchdown, that could bode well for the freshman’s playing time.
Bryan Addison caught two passes for 16 yards, making up for his earlier unsportmanlike penalty when he attempted to rip the pom pom out of a Washington fan’s hands. Three running backs were responsible for seven catches and 36 yards.
Cyrus Habibi-Likio: 14 car - 81 YDS - 15 long - 1 TD
Travis Dye: 8 car - 51 YDS - 21 long
CJ Verdell: 11 car - 48 YDS - 13 long
Jaylon Redd: 1 car - 4 YDS
The running back room remained a three-headed monster consisting of Cyrus Habibi-Likio, Travis Dye and CJ Verdell. However, one development of interest is that CHL received a season-high 14 carries and was very much the feature back in the second half.
With 9:21 left in the third quarter, the Ducks were on the enemy 25 and elected to hand the ball to CHL on three consecutive plays: the first for three yards, the second for eight, and the final resulting in a 14-yard touchdown. He also pulled off a 15-yard run during the Pittman touchdown drive, and carried the ball four consecutive times for a total of 22 yards to set up Redd’s 5-yard touchdown reception. Simply put, CHL deserves the game ball for his ferocious running late in the game, setting up a comeback that will forever be remembered in this longstanding rivalry.
Verdell and Dye also did an admirable job pushing the ball forward, the former receiving 100% of his carries in the first half and the latter receiving his eight carries throughout the final three quarters. Verdell was his normal hard-running self in the first half but was likely benched due to the success of CHL as the game wore on. We’ll have to wait and see how permanent this shift in roles is as the season progresses.
In addition to his kick return duties, Dye found other ways to positively affect the game, namely as a change-of-pace back. In Oregon’s game-winning touchdown drive, Dye took off for 21 yards, moving the Ducks to the Huskies’ 27-yard line.
The Huskies looked to be the more physical team throughout the first 45 minutes, but Coach Feld’s fourth quarter training won the day.
Jacob Eason: 23/30 - 289 YDS - 3 TD
Salvon Ahmed: 24 car - 140 YDS - 20 long - 1 TD
Hunter Bryant: 3 rec - 65 YDS - 27 long
Cade Otton: 3 rec - 53 YDS - 22 long
Jordan Chin: 1 rec - 48 YDS - 1 TD
Puka Nacua: 3 rec - 43 YDS - 33 long - 1 TD
Andre Baccellia: 1 rec - 5 YDS - 1 TD
Brandon Wellington: 11 tackles - 7 solo
Myles Bryant: 7 tackles - 5 solo
Elijah Molden: 7 tackles - 5 solo - 1 TFL
Washington had a handful of fantastic plays and drives but ultimately fell short due to an equal amount of boneheaded decisions and fourth quarter fatigue.
Highlights include Jordan Chin’s 48-yard touchdown pass, Eason’s spot-on 27-yard completion that set up Andre Baccellia’s score, Puka Nacua’s touchdown at the beginning of the third quarter and two quarters of stellar defense.
Lowlights start with the Huskies hiding in the end zone for an illegal kick return, continue with the overhead snap for a loss of 19 yards, and wrap up in a scoreless fourth quarter with a handful of ineffective plays from the wildcat.
Jacob Eason played some great football. He was 15 of 19 through the first half and made some spectacular throws on both of Washington’s touchdown drives: On 2nd-and-8, Eason connected with Jordan Chin on a playaction pass for a 48-yard touchdown, his first career touchdown. And before the half, Eason led his team on an 8-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in which he was a perfect 7 of 7 for 62 yards.
But once the fourth quarter hit, the Ducks run defense shut down Salvon Ahmed, who finished with 140 yards after some highly successful carries early on, and Eason’s heroics weren’t enough to save his team, though I’m sure Washington fans will forever lament about their missing pass interference call.
The Huskies defense was able to limit Oregon’s run game until Cyrus Habibi-Likio began to take control in the fourth quarter. Washington’s defense was clearly gassed and their interior line were no match for the hard-running back supported by Oregon’s veteran o-line. This rivalry game was hard-fought and competitive, but in the end the Ducks came out the victors and Cristobal is now 2-0 against the Huskies.
WASHINGTON PASSING: 23/30 - 289 YDS - 3 TD
WASHINGTON RUSHING: 34 car - 125 YDS - 1 TD
WASHINGTON 3RD DOWN: 3 of 13
TURNOVERS FORCED: Ducks 0 - Huskies 0
After five straight games of not allowing more than seven points, the Oregon defense had 31 dropped on them as they looked completely lost during much of the game. The Huskies’ offense threw for more yards than any other Duck opponent and tallied four touchdowns when Oregon had allowed just four throughout their first six games.
Jacob Eason did a remarkable job picking apart the Duck secondary. His 48-yard touchdown to Jordan Chin put the Huskies up 14 to 7, and in the final minutes of the first half he led his team down the field and completed seven consecutive passes to maintain that lead when the Ducks struck back.
Injuries plagued both teams during this game. Sean McGrew and Aaron Fuller were out before the game began, and Chico McClatcher left during the game. And for Oregon, starting cornerback Deommodore Lenoir left the game after crashing into a player (leaving freshman DJ James to take his place), and Troy Dye broke his thumb very early in the game (possibly during his tackle attempt on Ahmed’s TD run in the first quarter). His dedication to the program kept him in the game but you can tell it affected his play early on.
Eason had back to back successful drives after coming back from halftime. One ended in a 33-yard TD pass to Puka Nacua, defended by James, and the other resulting in a field goal. But after the offense put together back-to-back touchdown drives, the Duck defense came alive and was able to shut down Washington’s offense in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies started the fourth quarter with a three-point lead. The Ducks forced them into back-to-back three-and-outs by limiting Salvon Ahmed’s gains on the ground. And after Redd made the game-winning score, Washington needed to drive 75 yards for the go-ahead-touchdown.
A Popo Aumavae 12-yard sack had the Huskies at 3rd-and-16, then a false start put the ball at the Washington 45 with 23 yards to go for the first down. Oregon’s defense failed to prevent yet another big play from Eason by allowing Marquis Spiker to pickup 20 yards , resulting in a crucial 4th-and-3 for the Huskies. The proceeding play will likely be debated for many years to come, but at the end of the day the play was deemed legal and the Ducks winners.
Sure, the Oregon defense under-performed for most of the game, but their play during the fourth quarter was a testament to Coach Cristobal’s philosophy: establish a strong run game, recruit and utilize elite athletes, and out work the opponent for four quarters.
ALL-GANG GREEN TEAM
- Thomas Graham Jr: 7 tackles - 7 solo - 1 PD
- Isaac Slade-Matautia: 7 tackles - 6 solo - 2 TFL
- Nick Pickett: 6 tackles - 2 solo
- Troy Dye: 5 tackles - 2 solo - 1 PD
- Popo Aumavae: 2 tackles - 1 solo - 1 sack - 1 TFL