Oregon’s football team returned to Autzen Stadium from a disappointing trip to Georgia last week to play what was expected to be a clearly outmatched foe in Eastern Washington. The Ducks followed through on that expectation, scoring 9 offensive touchdowns and 1 defensive touchdown and playing stingy defense to beat the Eagles 70 - 14.
Oregon starting Quarterback Bo Nix completed 28 of 33 passing attempts for 277 yards and 5 touchdowns, with no interceptions. Nix’s 5 scores were a career high. Mar’Keise Irving led Oregon rushers with 8 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. Troy Franklin caught 10 passes for 84 yards to lead the receiving core. Six Oregon backs carried the ball, and Byron Cardwell, Jr., Kilohana Haasenritter and Noah Whittington added rushing touchdowns. Fourteen Ducks caught passes with Tight End Terrance Ferguson scoring twice and Cardwell and Cam McCormick chipping in with touchdown catches. Eight Ducks scored touchdowns.
Oregon’s defense also got into the act with two interceptions one each for Trikweze Bridges and Christian Gonzalez. Bridges returned his third quarter interception to the Eastern Washington 3-yard line where he fumbled, and the ball bounced into the end zone where it was recovered by the Ducks.
Oregon fans also had a chance to see both Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield in action. Thompson entered the game in the third quarter with Oregon already leading comfortably 56 - 7. Thompson led two touchdown drives of 78 and 76 yards, both of which ended in rushing scores. Overall, Thompson was 5 - 7 for 63 passing yards. Butterfield entered the game with 8:20 to play and led one drive in which Oregon mostly ran the ball and was on the field for the final “victory formation” possession as the clock ran out. Butterfield was 1 - 1 passing for 1 yard.
Nix generally played well and was composed, working his check-downs when necessary. He did have at least one inexplicable throw, however. Early in the second quarter with Oregon already leading 14 - 0 and the Ducks on the EWU 9-yard line Nix tried to throw a ball to Ferguson on about the 5-yard line. A defender was standing right in front of Ferguson, and Nix threw the pass right to him. Between the defender’s surprise and Ferguson reaching to break up the interception, the ball somehow bounced in the air right into Ferguson’s hands and he was able to score. They say it’s better to be lucky than good and it certainly was for Nix on that play.
After kicking off and holding EWU to a 3-and-out on their first possession, Oregon started with great field position as Kris Hutson returned an Eastern Washington punt to the EWU 45-yard line. The Ducks had just 2 first downs on the drive, including a 4th and 1 conversion and also overcoming an illegal snap penalty. Nix hit Ferguson in the middle of the field at the EWU 13-yard line and Ferguson rolled into the end zone, freed up by a great block from Sean Dollars. 7 - 0 Ducks.
Oregon’s defense again held Eastern Washington to a 3-and-out, holding EWU on a third and one. Chase Cota returned the Eagles punt to Oregon’s 27-yard line. The 73-yard drive was highlighted by a big gain from Irving cruising 26 yards to the EWU 33 on a 1st and 10. Malachi Russell then caught a Nix pass and broke tackles up the sideline for a 16-yard gain to the EWU 13. Noah Whittington bulled in from the 1-yard line for the Duck touchdown, with the extra point giving Oregon the 14 - 0 lead.
EWU’s next possession - highlighted by a DJ Johnson tackle for loss - also ended in a 3-and-out for the Eagles, the third in a row for the Duck defense. Hutson returned the ensuing punt to Oregon’s 17-yard line and Oregon went on a 10-play, 83-yard drive ending in Ferguson’s 2nd touchdown early in the 2nd quarter, mentioned above. Oregon now led 21 - 0. For the first quarter, the Ducks had 190 yards of total offense.
On their ensuing kickoff, Oregon’s special teams had great coverage, punishing the EWU returner for trying to bring the ball out of the end zone with a gang tackle on the 11-yard line. This EWU possession was a “1-and-out” as a deep pass attempt was overthrown, intercepted by Christian Gonzalez and returned to the EWU 44-yard line. Oregon took 10 plays to score again, including another conversion on 4th down and 6 on a Nix pass to Franklin. Oregon had two penalties on the drive for an ineligible receiver downfield (which was declined as the pass was incomplete) and for delay of game on 3rd and 7 from the EWU 28-yard line. Oregon also converted the resulting 3rd and 12 with a Nix pass to Franklin at the 13. Irving scored on a 1-yard run and Oregon led 28 - 0.
Eastern Washington finally got on the board on their 5th possession. Oregon broke down on kick coverage, and after an Oregon penalty, EWU was in business on Oregon’s 42. The Eagles scored in 9 plays, despite a nice tackle for loss from Brandon Dorlus. The touchdown pass came from the Oregon 7-yard line when Oregon’s coverage arrived late to the right front corner of the end zone. EWU had closed to 28 - 7, but Oregon came right back with an 8-play, 72-yard drive. Cardwell got his first carries and gained good yardage and Cam McCormick broke tackles for yards after the catch to pick up 11 yards on a 1st and 15 after another ineligible receiver downfield penalty on Oregon. The Ducks never faced a 3rd down on the drive, and Cardwell paid it off by taking a Nix screen pass in from 13 yards for the touchdown. Oregon 35 - Eastern Washington 7.
Oregon’s defense again forced a 3-and-out from EWU, highlighted by a DJ Johnson sack on 3rd and 9. The Ducks showed perfect clock management, and “two-minute drill” chops, as they went on a 12-play, 65-yard drive in 2:29. Franklin scored as the clock went to zeroes, catching a Nix pass at the three and breaking a tackle to get into the end zone. At the half, Oregon led 42 - 7.
Oregon received the 2nd half kickoff and took up right where they left off. The Ducks took just 8 plays to go 75 yards with a pass to Hutson and a Dollars run highlighting the drive. Nix threw a 2-yard TD pass to McCormick and the Ducks were ahead 49 - 7. EWU again had the shortest possible drive, as their first-down pass was intercepted by Trikweze Bridges at the EWU 25. Bridges returned the ball to the EWU 3 where he fumbled into the end zone while being tackled. The Ducks pounced on the ball and were suddenly ahead 56 - 7.
EWU again could not move the ball, gaining just one first down and punting the ball away. Ty Thompson now entered the game at quarterback for Oregon and looked fine in his first game action of 2022. Thompson passed for two first downs and led a 10-play, 78-yard drive, capped off by a Cardwell rushing touchdown from 9 yards out. Oregon 63 - Eastern Washington 7.
The Eagles got on the board again on their next drive, as Oregon continued to work down their defensive depth chart. EWU went on a 10-play, 73-yard drive and ultimately scored on a 4th and 8 touchdown pass. On the play, Oregon defenders over pursued on a sack opportunity freeing up the quarterback for the strike. Oregon led 63 - 14.
Oregon’s final touchdown drive spanned the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter. The 11-play, 76-yard drive was aided by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on EWU on what was otherwise an incomplete Thompson pass. A six-yard touchdown run by Hassenritter completed the scoring and gave Oregon the 70 - 14 victory. Oregon’s defense shut down EWU and forced punts on their last two drives and Butterfield came on late to run out the clock.
Oregon certainly did what was expected, scoring at will against a team that does not have the same talent level and playing good defense until garbage time. It was a chance for the Ducks to work on the things that went wrong against Georgia without too much concern that any mistakes might really hurt them. It’s a tough spot for Oregon - win big and they were “supposed to” anyway. Play close or - horrors! - lose and the trolls would be out in force. Oregon showed the kind of non-conference dominance that they have against lower-level teams in years past.
The Ducks next welcome #21 BYU to Autzen Stadium next Saturday for a 12:30 pm game. The Cougars beat #9 Baylor in two overtimes (26-20) at home tonight. That should vault BYU into the top 20.
Look for Hythloday1’s film review of tonight’s victory coming up on Tuesday.