Marcus Mariota collected 238 total yards and threw for four touchdowns, and Kenjon Barner added 122 rushing yards as the No. 2 Oregon Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) trounced the No. 23 Washington Huskies (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) 52-21 in front of 58,792 at Autzen Stadium Saturday night.
The victory was Oregon’s ninth straight over Washington in the schools’ interstate rivalry, and perhaps one of the Ducks’ most dominant, despite facing a newly ranked Huskies squad fresh off of an upset of Stanford.
Mariota, a redshirt freshman starting his sixth career game for Oregon, appeared as comfortable as ever, dissecting the Huskies’ defense with both his arm and his legs.
“That’s one thing that’s awesome about Marcus: very rarely does he make the same mistake twice,” said head coach Chip Kelly after the game. “He’s a real thirsty kid. He always wants to get better. How he played tonight was not a surprise to us.”
De’Anthony Thomas, who finished with 11 touches for 87 yards from scrimmage, capitalized on a short field and cut past multiple Huskies defenders on his way to a 16-yard touchdown run following a fumble by Washington return man Marvin Hall.
The Ducks added their second touchdown on a four-play, 80-yard drive. Mariota found wide-open receivers for big gains on consecutive plays, first a 48-yard catch by Colt Lyerla, then a Keanon Lowe 21-yard touchdown reception.
Oregon’s first quarter onslaught continued when safety Avery Patterson picked off a Keith Price pass and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown, staking the Ducks to a 21-0 lead with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter. The pick-six was the Ducks’ fourth in three games. The last time Oregon compiled four interceptions returned for touchdowns in a single season was 1991.
The Huskies responded with their lone first-half touchdown early in the second quarter, when running back Bishop Sankey capped a seven-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The Ducks came right back with another score of their own, finishing a 10-play, 76-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown connection between Mariota and Lyerla, who finished with three receptions for 71 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown reception to open the fourth quarter.
Oregon’s last first-half score came by way of a 34-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to wide receiver Josh Huff. Huff, who has battled knee issues in recent weeks, showed no signs of being slowed down, catching a short pass and scampering downfield for the score.
“Once I get the ball in my hand, my first thought is to get to the end-zone, and I don’t want anyone to stop me,” said Huff.
Washington benefited from tough running by Sankey, whose 25-carry, 104-yard night included a hard-fought 6-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, in which he powered past a slew of Oregon would-be tacklers. Sankey’s performance accounted for half of Washington’s rushing yard total of 208 yards, which came against an Oregon front seven missing leading tackler Michael Clay, who was out with an injury.
Conversely, the Ducks held Washington junior quarterback Keith Price to 145 yards passing, and forced two interceptions. The Huskies turned the ball over five times total.
“I just try to stay low when I make tackles, and if you make good-form tackles, sometimes your helmet lands straight on the ball and the ball comes out,” said cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who forced two fumbles.
True freshman running back Byron Marshall saw some fourth quarter action for the Ducks, scampering 32 yards on his first carry, then punching in a 4-yard score two touches later. Marshall finished with 59 yards rushing on 8 carries.
Ducks’ kicker Rob Beard experienced an up-and-down night, missing a 41-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter and converting on a 28-yard try in the third.
In what became an early blowout, tensions were at times high between the Ducks and Huskies. Before the game, a group of Washington players danced on the “O” at midfield, much to the chagrin of Oregon fans already in attendance. In-game action saw plenty of tussling, most notably following a late hit on Mariota.
“I’m never the kind of guy where if you disrespect me or my teammates, I’m not just going to let that go,” said Mariota. “There’s situations where you can keep your head and there’s situations where you need to say something, and I felt that at that point in time, they were getting a little chippy.”
In the waning moments of the game, Erich Wilson II ran 1 yard for a touchdown for the Huskies, to bring the game to its final score, 52-21.
Oregon now enters its first bye week of the season, and will then travel to Tempe for a nationally televised Thursday night game at Arizona State.
|E. Wilson II||4||21||5.3||1||9|
|Yds Per Pass||4.7||8.3|
|Yds Per Rush||4.5||5.8|
All photos copyright Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News