In the second quarter, Marcus Mariota fumbled twice — and Byron Marshall once — leading to 17 Cougar points that made for a somewhat unexpected 34-24 Duck lead as the teams took to the locker rooms.

“I was really pleased how we came out in the second half,” defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said.

Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

Oregon (7-0, 4-0) cleaned up, dusted itself off and ripped off 28 straight in the second half, while holding Washington State (4-4, 2-3) to 85 passing yards and 7 rushing yards in the third quarter. The Ducks beat the Cougars 62-38, with the final seven points coming from Terrance Mitchell‘s pick-6, the Ducks’ first defensive touchdown of the season.

“Lots of people telling me all week at practice they’re gonna throw the ball a lot, so you should get one,” Mitchell said. “So God blessed me.”

Wazzu did indeed throw the ball a lot — 89 times in fact — and over half of the attempts came in the second half. The 89 passes — all by starter Connor Halliday — broke the FBS record for pass attempts in a game, but Oregon’s rushing game stole the show as the Ducks marched to extend their advantage.

Marshall led the way, piling up 192 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in a career day. Though the big numbers were both career highs, he said after the game that the most important stat to him was the fumble he dropped, and it looked like a key stat to the game as the Cougs surged.

Freshman Thomas Tyner added a 99-yard day — Tyner reached 101 gained, but lost 2 on one play that made him miss out on his first career 100-yard game. The two, combined with Mariota’s 67 yards, reached 383 — a big number any game, but pretty special against a conference opponent.

Byron Marshall

Byron Marshall | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

Marshall has improved greatly since previous starter De’Anthony Thomas (who missed his fourth game Saturday) went down with an ankle injury. He’s starting to make cuts that earn the extra yards, but head coach Mark Helfrich didn’t put any of the yards on any one player.

“They ran hard, I don’t know what the percentage of production goes to what,” Helfrich said.
“We ended up with 383 yards and those are for the Oregon Ducks.”

The Wazzu charge seemed to come out of nowhere, as it has in past years, but a couple of the second-quarter turning points in their favor, seemed to be much more Oregon’s mistakes than anything. Mariota hadn’t lost a turnover this season before Saturday, but fumbled twice to the Cougars — yielding 7 points on a short field and 7 points on a fumble recovery. Marshall fumbled with 1:26 left in the first half, which allowed them to add three more before halftime.

“The three turnovers we had were basically in the unforced errors category,” Helfrich said.

Taylor Hart

Taylor Hart | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

The coach continued to give high praise to his sophomore quarterback who hasn’t hit any kind of sophomore slump in the slightest. Other than the aforementioned errors, and a slightly lower completion percentage than last year, he’s continued to grind in the spotlight. He might make more errors, but Helfrich didn’t seem certain of that.

“He might throw the ball to the other team at some point,” Helfrich said. it could happen, he might turn it over. Whatever else is bad in his world, he might do it.”

Mitchell, a junior, has played Washington State three times now, and all three times Wazzu has struck gold in the second quarter before falling ultimately in the third quarter.

“Washington State always plays us tough,” he said, adding “they’re definitely improving.”

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