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Oregon Survives Surprisingly Close Contest Against Fresno State, Ducks 31 - Bulldogs 24

A win is a win, but next week could be brutal!

Fresno State v Oregon

Eugene, Oregon - The #11 Oregon Ducks (1-0) survived a surprisingly competitive game against the Fresno State Bulldogs (1-1) thanks to a late touchdown run that gave the home team a 31-24 victory.

At first it appeared everything was going Oregon’s way. Star Pass Rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux was a one-man wrecking crew: forcing a bad pass from Jake Haener while in coverage, blowing up the Bulldogs’ defensive line to help Bradyn Swinson collect a 14-yard sack that ended the drive, and then sacking Haener on his next outing to set up an easy touchdown for CJ Verdell.

However, disaster struck when Kristian Williams accidentally rolled up on Thibodeaux’s leg after a play was over, resulting in Oregon’s defensive stud missing the second half. He was seen in a walking boot on the sideline in street clothes for much of the game.

Fellow former 5-star Noah Sewell helped make up for the absence of Thibodeaux by stripping star running back Ronnie Rivers of the ball which was recovered by Keyon Ware Hudson at the Fresno State 27-yard line. Three plays later Travis Dye was in the end zone to put the Ducks up 14 to 0.

Without their amazing pass rusher on the field, the Duck defense failed to bring pressure to Haener, and as the game went on the former washington huskie began to find a lot success in the air, finishing with 298 yards of passing offense.

The Bulldog offense was able to set up two made field goals for kicker Abraham Montano in the first half, and after the Ducks responded with a 6-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson III, Fresno State responded by marching 75 yards on their proceeding drive to cut the lead to 21-13 just before the half with a 17-yard TD pass to Jalen Cropper.

After Verdell failed to convert on 4th-and-short on Oregon’s first drive of the third quarter, Haener and the Bulldog offense put together another long, pass-driven march down the field that was capped off with a short keeper from Haener for a touchdown and a two-point conversion to Juan Rodriguez to tie the game at 21 apiece with 6:45 left in the third.

It appeared the Ducks were heading for a week one upset when Brown fumbled the ball at the top of the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs responded by taking a lead with a field goal. However, another forced fumble from another 5-star Duck (this time linebacker Justin Flowe) recaptured the momentum for Oregon, and kicker Camden Lewis was able to tie the game with a 25-yard field goal.

Despite the fact that they were on the field for much of the game, the Oregon defense managed to force a three-and-out late in the game. And when the Ducks needed him most, Anthony Brown Jr. turned a pitch-option on 4th-and-2 into a 30-yard game-winning touchdown run. The Ducks were able to snuff out Fresno State’s final drive and kill the clock for the victory.

Next week the Ducks take on one of their most dreaded rivals - the Ohio State Buckeyes. No word on whether Thibodeaux will be available for the road trip to Columbus, Ohio as of publication.

In other words: Hold on to your butts, and Go Ducks!

Fresno State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images


Anthony Brown: 15/24 - 172 YDS - 1 TD - 16 Car - 62 YDS - 1 RTD

Jake Haener: 30/43 - 298 YDS - 1 TD

TD SCORERS: (UO) CJ Verdell, Travis Dye, Anthony Brown Jr {2}, Johnny Johnson III (FSU) Jake Haener {2}, Jalen Cropper

DUCK YARDS: 364 yards - 172 passing - 192 rushing

BULLDOG YARDS: 375 yards - 298 passing - 77 rushing

TURNOVERS FORCED: Ducks: 3 (3 FUM) - Bulldogs: 1 (1 FUM)

Fresno State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images


  • After a touchback kicked from Camden Lewis to start the game, the Duck defense stopped Ronnie Rivers for no gain on first down.
  • On 3rd-and-7, Quarterback Jake Haener found Jalen Copper for a 12-yard gain. Then Kayvon Thibodeaux forced an off throw from Haener on 2nd-and-8, and followed that up by pressuring Haener into a 14-yard loss on a sack from Bradyn Swinson to effectively end the drive.
  • Anthony Brown Jr’s first drive began with an incompletion, followed by two QB runs for 13 yards to earn the first down.
  • A 19-yard pass to Kris Hutson got the Ducks across midfield, but the drive stalled shortly after when Brown failed to connect with Mycah Pittman on 3rd-and-6.
  • An - Oregon defensive holding penalty - set Fresno State up at the Bulldog 30, but a sack by Thibodeaux on the first play of the drive forced a fumble from Haener that outside linebacker Mase Funa collected and returned for 13 yards to the Bulldog 3-yard line.
  • Running Back CJ Verdell took three carries to pound in Oregon’s first touchdown of the season.

Ducks 7 - Bulldogs 0

(3 plays, 3 yards, 1:11)

  • Fresno State’s next drive mirrored their previous one: on the first play, Noah Sewell stripped the ball from star running back Ronnie Rivers, which was recovered by defensive tackle Keyon Ware-Hudson.
  • And just like their previous drive, the Oregon offense used just three run plays to reach the end zone. A pair of runs from Brown netted 15 yards, aided by a - Fresno State Roughing the Passer Penalty - then Running Back Travis Dye earned the 4-yard score.

Ducks 14 - Bulldogs 0

(3 plays, 27 yards, 0:58)

  • The teams traded three-and-outs, then the Bulldogs ended the quarter by starting a drive on their own 15-yard line and taking it to the Oregon 9-yard line that used up the last 4:22 of the first quarter.
Fresno State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

INJURY NOTE: Dru Mathis seemed in a lot of pain coming off the field and was in a serious-looking leg brace in the second half. Star defensive player Kayvon Thibodeaux had his ankle hit by a fellow player and was slow to get off the field. Cristobal says it was an ankle sprain and that X-rays taken during the game have returned negative. Thibodeaux missed a drive but played the rest of the second quarter. However he was sidelined for the rest of the game in street clothes and wore a walking boot as a preemptive measure.


  • Fresno State failed to continue their drive after the half, but kicker Abraham Montano got the Bulldogs on the board with a 33-yard Field Goal.

Ducks 14 - Bulldogs 3

(12 plays, 69 yards, 5:13)

  • The Ducks ran the ball seven consecutive times on their following drive, but after a fumble was fortunately recovered by the offense on 2nd-and-5, Brown failed to connect with slot receiver Jaylon Redd on 3rd-and-11.
  • Haener and the Bulldogs responded strong by putting together a 14-play, 68-yard drive fueled largely by Haener’s arm. The drive resulted in another field goal from Montano, this time from 39 yards out.

Ducks 14 - Bulldogs 6

(14 plays, 68 yards, 6:09)

  • Oregon mixed things up by airing things out. Brown completed four passes for a total of 72 yards on their next drive, capping it off with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson III.

Ducks 21 - Bulldogs 6

(6 plays, 74 yards, 2:15)

  • It appeared Haener began to feel a lot more comfortable late in the second quarter, highlighted by an 18-yard pass to fellow ex-huskie Receiver Ty Jones.
  • On 2nd-and-17, Haener picked up 11 yards on a scramble. Then an - Oregon Personal Foul - was called on Justin Flowe for a late hit, which quite frankly could have been called for targeting as Haener had already given himself up and Flowe seemingly aimed for a helmet to helmet hit.
  • Haener then got the Bulldogs into the end zone with 7 seconds remaining in the half by connecting on passes of 11 and 17 yards on 3rd-and-10 and 2nd-and-10, respectively. Jalen Cropper collected the first Bulldog touchdown of the contest.

Ducks 21 - Bulldogs 13

(10 plays, 75 yards, 1:09)

  • The half ended with an overthrown pass to Spencer Webb.

HALFTIME SCORE: Ducks 21 - Bulldogs 13

Fresno State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images


  • Oregon started with the ball in the second half and a 12-yard pass to Pittman helped the Ducks sustain the drive early. Travis Dye took four carries for 21 yards to get the Ducks near the red zone, but ultimately the drive ended on 4th-and-2 when Verdell tripped on the field before he picked up any momentum, resulting in an easy stop for the Bulldogs.
  • Without the presence of Thibodeaux, who remained out of the contest after his first-half injury, Haener was able to take his time in the pocket, resulting in big yardage through the air.
  • Haener, Rivers, and Jordan Mims helped fuel a 9-play, 85-yard scoring drive. Mims in particular helped ignite the Fresno State offense with a 45-yard run on 3rd-and-2 to reach the Duck 18.
  • Three plays later, and with the aid of an - Oregon Defensive Pass Interference - called on Steve Stephens, Haener walked into the end zone for a 2-yard score.

Bulldogs 21 - Ducks 21

(9 plays, 85 yards, 4:26)

  • Brown started Oregon’s next drive with a 13-yard completion to Redd, but missed his next two pass attempts. And on 3rd-and-10 a pass to Dye was only able to gain five yards, resulting in another punt.
  • Haener hit completions of 15 and 21 yards to Josh Kelly to quickly reach midfield. The drive stalled and peaked at a 4th-and-3 at the Oregon 48, where the Bulldogs intended to go for it but the Autzen faithful forced a - Fresno State False Start - which forced them into a punt.
  • Brown was sacked by Tyson Maeva on second down after an incompletion on first down, and the final play of the third quarter was a - Fresno State Pass Interference penalty - that bailed the Ducks out of a 3rd-and-12.
Fresno State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images


  • Travis Dye opened up the final frame with a 17-yard run, but on the second play of the drive Arron Mosby sacked Brown, who fumbled the ball which was quickly collected by Kevin Atkins.
  • The Bulldogs started on the Oregon 23, and a 4-yard completion to Zane Pope was made worse for the Ducks when Mase Funa was called for an - Oregon Unnecessary Roughness Penalty - that put the Bulldogs at the Oregon 11.
  • Haener threw an incompletion on 3rd-and-3 at the Oregon 5, and the Bulldogs elected to take the short field goal. Montano hit his third of the day to give Fresno State their first lead.

Bulldogs 24 - Ducks 21

(5 plays, 22 yards, 1:51)

  • Verdell carried the rock three consecutive times to start the next drive and netted 26 yards. However, on 3rd-and-10 a pass to Tight End Terrance Ferguson picked up only seven of the necessary 10 yards, resulting in a punt.
  • An - Oregon Roughing the Passer Penalty - on Verone McKinley III gave the Bulldogs good field position, but Justin Flowe made a heroic move by punching the ball out of Haener’s hands on a scramble. Jordan Happle recovered at the Bulldog 32.
  • Four consecutive runs from Verdell kicked off the next drive and earned 24 yards to reach the Fresno State 8. However, the drive lost its momentum and Cristobal sent out Camden Lewis to tie things up with a 25-yard field goal.

Ducks 24 - Bulldogs 24

(7 plays, 25 yards, 2:35)

  • The Ducks forced a three-and-out and started at their own 37.
  • An - Oregon Offensive Holding Penalty - called on Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu put the Duck offense in a tough situation, but a 32-yard pass to Johnson III got the Ducks back on track.
  • On 3rd-and-8 at the Fresno State 36 Dye picked up six yards to make it a 4th-and-short situation, and Brown made the smart decision to keep it on an option, which resulted in the 30-yard game winning touchdown run.

Ducks 31 - Bulldogs 24

(6 plays, 63 yards, 3:04)

  • Brandon Dorlus sacked Haener for a 7-yard loss on 3rd-and-3, then a false start made things harder for the Bulldogs by putting them in a crucial 4th-and-15.
  • Haener connected with Cropper for a 13-yard gain that fell a couple yards short thanks to a sure tackle from Trikweze Bridges.
  • Verdell was able to successfully pick up the first down to seal the win.

Ducks 31 - Bulldogs 24

Fresno State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

A Win is A Win!