No. 4 Ducks Down Bulldogs, 42-25, to Reach 2-0 on the Season
De’Anthony Thomas supplied the highlight reel plays. Kenjon Barner did the rest. Oregon’s nationally acclaimed running back duo carried the Ducks past a feisty Fresno State as they held on for a 42-25 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 55,755 at Autzen Stadium Saturday.
Thomas ran for 102 yards on seven carries, including touchdown runs of 39 and 51 yards. Barner carried the ball a career-high 34 times for 201 yards, also a career best.
“I’m going to carry the ball as many times as they give it to me,” said Barner. “I definitely think I get stronger as they game goes on.”
The Bulldogs showed no fear on their first fourth down, when punter Mark Shapiro scampered 23 yards. The Bulldogs marched downfield, capping an 11-play, 57-yard drive with a 39-yard field goal by kicker Quen Breshears.
The Ducks were quick to respond, by way of a four-play, 68-yard drive highlighted by a 39-yard touchdown run by Thomas on a triple-option play. After a three-and-out by the Bulldogs, Barner notched his first touchdown run on the day with a 3-yard score.
On the next Oregon drive, quarterback Marcus Mariota experienced his first non-scoring drive of his short collegiate career. The Ducks wouldn’t be held down for long, however, as Mariota directed a 13-play, 85-yard drive on the following possession. On third down with three yards to go, sophomore tight end Colt Lyerla hauled in a short pass from Mariota, shook an open-field tackle, and dragged a pair of Bulldog defenders into the end zone to extend the Oregon lead to 21-3 early in the second quarter.
And then, it was the De’Anthony Thomas show once again. The sophomore athlete evaded and shed several Bulldog would-be tacklers on a 51-yard touchdown run that fell into his ever-expanding collection of “how did he do that?” plays.
“With both De’Anthony and Kenjon, we feel like in every situation when we
hand it to them, good things are going to happen,” said Oregon head coach
While the Fresno State offense continued to flounder, their punting game pinned the Ducks on their own two-yard line on consecutive possessions, the second of which came on a pooch-punt by quarterback Derek Carr. After Carr’s kick, the Ducks responded with an 11-play, 98-yard drive capped by yet another 3-yard Kenjon Barner touchdown run.
The Bulldogs added a second field goal as time expired in the first half, when Breshears nailed a 43-yarder, setting the halftime score at 35-6.
Mariota’s first turnover came in the third quarter, when Fresno State senior linebacker Shawn Plummer spun the redshirt freshman around in the Oregon backfield and forced a fumble, which the Bulldogs recovered at the Oregon 22 yard line. The Bulldogs capitalized on the mistake on the second play of their ensuing drive, when Carr completed an 18-yard toss to junior wide receiver Isaiah Burse in the corner of the end zone.
Carr, the younger brother of NFL quarterback David Carr and
pre-season Mountain West player of the year, completed 29 of 47 passes for 234 yards.
The Ducks’ sluggish second half start continued when freshman wide receiver Bralon Addison coughed up a fumble of his own, recovered by the Bulldogs at the Oregon 12. The Ducks’ defense tightened up this time, forcing Fresno State to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Breshears after Ducks’ defensive end Taylor Hart sacked Carr on third down.
After Mariota fumbled yet again by way of a Phillip Thomas sack, Carr led the Bulldogs on another scoring drive, culminating with a 37-yard Breshears field goal. The kick brought the score to 35-19 with 9:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.
With the Bulldogs slowly creeping back into the game, the Ducks finally managed their first scoring drive of the second half when Barner scurried through the Fresno State defense for a 16-yard touchdown. Mariota, who completed two passes for eleven yards on the drive, finished with 166 yards passing and 67 yards rushing.
“The one thing about Marcus is I don’t think his demeanor changes,” said Kelly. “He’s a real focused young man.”
In the final score of the game, Fresno was able to capitalize on a 2-yard TD run by Robbie Rouse to close the game at 42-25 after a failed 2-point conversion. Rouse carried the ball 27 times for 115 yards. The senior running back broke the school record for most career carries on his eleventh touch, and is now 89 yards short of Michael Pittman’s all-time school record.
The Ducks suffered a multitude of injuries throughout the game, most notably to wide receiver Josh Huff and offensive lineman Carson York. While Huff said he was held out for precautionary reasons and expects to practice Monday, York’s status is unknown.
Oregon center Hroniss Grassu struggled with snaps throughout the game, including snaps that errantly went to Barner on a couple of occassions.
“I’m still pretty upset about that right now,” said Grassu. “I’ve got to work on that. I’m going to stay after practice as much as I can and work on it.”
Oregon returns to the field next Saturday at 12 PM to take on Tennessee Tech at Autzen Stadium.”
|Fresno St||D. Carr||29/47||234||5||1||0|
|Fresno St||R. Rouse||27||115||4.3||1||24|
|Fresno St||D. Adams||12||92||7.7||0||13|
|Fresno St||D. Smith||10||13||N/A||N/A||N/A|