The Oregon Ducks(10-2, 7-2) squeaked by the Oregon State Beavers(6-6, 4-5) 36-35 at Autzen Stadium in one of the most exciting Civil War games in recent memory. Led by the at times miraculous play of QB Marcus Mariota and WR Josh Huff, the Ducks were able to take the lead over the Beavers twice late in the second half and kept it as the clock struck midnight on OSU’s shot at its first Civil War victory since 2007.
Mariota threw for 285 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on the night. But the savior of the game and the Ducks season was Huff, who had 186 yards and caught three touchdown passes, including a clutch game winning catch with under a minute remaining. Thomas Tyner contributed the best game of his college career, rushing the ball 22 times for 153 yards and one TD. With the win, the Ducks not only salvaged a season that was on a steep decline ever since the Stanford loss, but its slim shot at being selected to a BCS game. They also generated a storybook exit to the Pac-12 careers of Duck seniors on senior night.
The Beavers may have fell short, but they gave the Ducks all they could handle. Despite having a relatively non-existent rushing attack for most of the season, the Beavs absolutely pounded the Ducks on the ground. Backup RB Terron Ward became the first Beaver of the season to eclipse the 100 yard mark, rushing the ball 17 times for 146 yards. Starter Storm Woods added 75 yards and OSU finished with 231 yards rushing. QB Sean Mannion had himself a day as well, throwing for 314 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. WR Brandin Cooks continued his historic season, catching 10 balls for 110 yards and breaking the Pac-12 record for most receptions in a season with 120.
How the Civil War was won:
On the first drive of the game, the Beavers swung for the fences on fourth and one from the Ducks 33, throwing it deep to Brandin Cooks on a post route. However, they struck out. Cooks was double covered and the ball wound up in the hands of CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
On the Ducks first play from scrimmage, Tyner exploded for a 40-yard run. RB De’Anthony Thomas finished off the drive by bouncing off his own blocker to the outside for a six yard score. Tyner scored a touchdown on the following drive from 12 yards out to cap a drive defined by screen passes to Huff and Braylon Addison.
At the 12 minute mark in the second quarter the Ducks forced a punt. But the ball fell through the grasp of Addison and was recovered by the Beavers at the UO 23. The Ducks D then put the clamps on the OSU offense, allowing only four yards in three plays. Though Beaver kicker Trevor Romaine missed the field goal, a Duck ran into the kicker, turning the missed field goal into a fourth and one opportunity. The Beavers converted on a slant-curl catch by Cooks. Then Woods stormed into the end zone on the final of three straight carries.
Oregon struck back with a 20-yard field goal by Matt Wogan, spearheaded by a 44-yard deep ball from Mariota to Huff.
After a 72-yard drive repeatedly pounding the ball to Woods and Ward, the Beavers easily converted an 18-yard field goal off the foot of Romaine. Mariota gave the ball right back to the Beavers after egregiously missing tight end Johnny Mundt to the right and into the hands of an OSU defensive back. On the Beavs next possession, lady luck struck the Ducks as Cooks caught a pass at the UO two yard line, but fumbled the ball into the end zone. Oregon retained possession. But after Mariota turned the ball over again on another puzzling interception, Mannion threw a wide open TD pass to Ward on a play action pass to the flats.
17-17 at the half
The Ducks continued their lackluster play, turning the ball over on downs on the opening series of the second half. The Beavers took the lead via a Romaine 47-yard field goal. But Mariota wouldn’t let the Beavs lead for long. The Duck QB delivered a 21-yard scamper, nine yard throw after escaping pressure and a 29-yard TD pass to Huff.
The Beavs then missed out on another scoring opportunity after getting stuffed within the Ducks 5-yard line on fourth and one. After a stalled UO drive, OSU made another FG on the second play of the fourth quarter. On the following Oregon drive, Thomas made his presence felt, delivering consecutive runs of 20 and 13 yards. However, Wogan missed a 43-yard FG.
On a drive highlighted by a sweet cutback by Ward that resulted in a 31-yard run, the Beavs finally found the end zone on a play action pass from Mannion to Tyler Anderson for a TD. After a two-point conversion run was halted by Taylor Hart, the score was 24-29 OSU.
Staring in the face of defeat, The Ducks rose to the challenge. On third and eight, Huff became the ninth player in UO history to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark after catching a timely 37-yard pass. Then on third and 13 the Ducks elected to run the ball up the middle with Tyner. It proved to be a wise decision as the RB ran for 25 yards. Finally, on fourth and 11 Mariota threw a dart at the sidelines on an end zone out route to Huff for the TD.
After another 70-plus yard Beaver drive culminated by a reverse for a TD by Victor Bolden, OSU took the lead 35-30 with 1:38 remaining.
The Ducks were down, but Mariota made sure they weren’t out. The Duck QB put the team on his back and arguably delivered the most important drive of his career. The Ducks went 83 yards on 8 plays in 1:09 seconds. After a missed two-point conversion, the score was 36-35, Oregon. On the Beavs final drive, two potential 20 plus yard gain’s slipped through the hands of Cooks. On the final play the Beavs tried a Boise State-esque hook and ladder, but an OSU player fumbled as the clock ran out.
36-35 Final Score
Head coach Mark Helfrich proves prophetic: “We were talking about it at the beginning of the fourth quarter that it was going to be one that we were going to be talking about forever.”
Taylor Hart puts game into perspective: “To be able to do that with my seniors, with these great coaches, it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Hroniss Grasu on the epic battle: “Having that fight to never give up, they were punching us we were punching back to. “We had one chance to win the game and you can’t let that moment pass you by.”
Hart provides a look into the Ducks locker room post game: “They might be jumping around on couches, singing and having a good time.”
Dior Mathis on Huff’s performance: “I couldn’t be more happy, excited, proud of that guy. We’ve built a bond for 4 years, that’s like my brother.”
Mariota’s mindset during the final drive: I just focus on not letting the moment affect me. I was raised to be calm, cool and collected.”
Brian Jackson’s feeling before the final drive: “I wouldn’t say that I was hopeless, but I couldn’t do anything else. it was not my turn anymore.”
Jackson’s feeling after the final drive: “We literally pulled it out on the last drive. It’s going to be a great story for me to tell.”
Huff breaks down the game winning TD: “It was a post route and I decided to cut it short because Marcus was in trouble and he found me”
Huff realizes a dream: “The game winning touchdown is something I have been dreaming about since I was a little kid, and it came true.”
Huff on Oregon State’s defense: “They were giving us a lot of tampa two. They weren’t in quarters for the whole game. We had a chance to make plays down the field.”
Huff on the way his Pac-12 career ended: “Surreal, I didn’t imagine my last game to come down like that.” It takes me back to practicing those situations in the backyard with my cousins.”
Huff on the Beavers and UO Seniors: “To go out on top against the Beavers, our rival, it felt amazing. I came in with most of those guys and built a connection with most of those guys. It’s a great feeling.”
Huff on his Rose Bowl comments and the negative reaction they generated: “I don’t regret anything I said. I know I had a lot of fans turn their back on me. I came out here to play for my teammates. Hopefully I gained everyone back on my side.”
Huff on UO football: “This program changed me, it changed my life in so many ways.”
Huff on recent criticism: “No matter what people say about me or my team, I know were gonna go out there and do our best to compete.”
Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti on the win: “There are no ugly wins there are only good wins, this was a good win.”
Aliotti on the game as a whole: “Not so much as a coach, but as a fan that was a fantastic football game.”
Aliotti on UO football expectations: “I know we have great heights, but if a ten win season is never good enough than we are in a sad state of affairs.”
Aliotti on his defensive game plan: “We played a lot more nickel and we didn’t want them to run the ball as well as they did, but I’ll let them have all those yards as long as we have that one more point.”