Beavers take late lead, but Mariota-Huff combo leads Ducks to victory
EUGENE The 117th Civil War turned into a heart-pounding, back-and-forth affair Friday at Autzen Stadium, and the Oregon Ducks prevailed with a late drive and 12-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to Josh Huff that gave them a 36-35 victory.
"It was something I dreamed of as a little kid," Huff said. "It's pretty amazing."
The Ducks went 83 yards in nine plays to take the lead with 29 seconds to go, then withstood Oregon State's frantic last possession for their sixth consecutive win in the series.
The lead changed hands six times in the second half, and as the Beavers tried to rally one more time, they had two decent pass looks downfield that fell incomplete including one ball that went through receiver Brandin Cooks' hands in the closing seconds.
Then, on the game's final play, OSU's hook-and-ladder attempt wound up failing on the turf, and the 13th-ranked Ducks were able to survive the upset bid.
The tension built throughout the night.
"That was a weird game," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "We knew they (the Beavers) were going to bring it. They played better than we did for a lot of the game, but our guys persevered."
Both teams were coming off big losses, and the talk during the week was how much or even if the players cared much anymore about the Civil War.
All that went out the window quickly, and was ripped to shreds during the wild fourth quarter and conclusion.
OSU receiver Victor Bolden dashed 25 yards on a fly sweep with 1:38 remaining to put the Beavers on top 35-30. Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu broke up the two-point conversion.
A good kickoff pinned the Ducks at their 17-yard line, with 83 yards to go in 1:32 for the win.
Mariota completed passes of 23, 19, 17 and 5 yards with a 15-yarder ruled incomplete after an officials' review. The series left Oregon at the OSU 24 with 45 seconds remaining.
After an incompletion, the Ducks faced third-and-5. Thomas Tyner picked it up on the ground, to the 12.
Mariota threw high in the flat. On the next play, he zipped the ball over the middle to Huff for what proved to be the deciding play.
"You've got to be calm, cool and collected. I wasn't trying to press," Mariota said, of the winning drive.
"I was able to keep it going and dig deep," Huff said, of his play at the end. "I left everything out on the field."
The two-point try was incomplete, leaving the teams 0 for 4 on two-point tries in the game, each missing twice in the fourth quarter.
But Oregon had a one-point lead, and Oregon State had little time.
OSU returned the kickoff to its 32 with 23 ticks left. Sean Mannion threw for eight yards, but that was all the yardage the Beavers could get in their bid for a shot at a winning field goal.
"We had every chance to win this game," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "But at least we can look at each other in the mirror and be proud of the effort."
Huff had made another 12-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-11 to give Oregon a 30-29 lead with 7:56 remaining.
The Ducks then turned up the defensive pressure for the first time in a while, forcing a punt.
But Oregon had to punt back to the Beavers after tight end Pharaoh Brown dropped a pass on third down giving OSU a chance to drive for their go-ahead score.
With 3 1/2 minutes to go, OSU's Terron Ward gained first-down yardage on third-and-1 in Oregon territory, and Beavers offensive lineman Sean Harlow saved the day for Oregon State, recovering Ward's fumble at the end of the play.
OSU got a new set of downs at the Oregon 25 with less than two minutes to go. And then it was Bolden, finding all the running room he needed on the sweep right.
But Mariota and Co., having been given enough time, were able to make the plays when they counted most.
"I'm proud of these guys," Mariota said, "but we can always get better."
Oregon improved to 10-2 going into the bowl season, with a 7-2 record in the Pac-12.
We literally practice that situation every day in practice. We call it clutch," Oregon center Hroniss Grasu said of the winning drive. "Its the start of practice. We get the ball, see the situation, and then its 45 seconds with no timeouts or it's 30 seconds with one timeout.
"When we took the field (Friday), we looked each other in the eyes and said, 'This is why we play football. Were going to tell our grandkids about this drive.'
"Ive never had one of these types of games in my career at Oregon a last- second drive to win a game. I think this program really needed it. It shows that even if things arent going your way, if youre down you can still come back and win.
OSU dropped to 6-6 with its fifth straight loss, and the Beavers slipped to 4-5 in conference games.
Statistics showed the tight competition: Oregon's final drive put the Ducks ahead in offense, 568-545.
Oregon State's ability to run better than it had all season against a UO defense determined to slow star wideout Cooks enabled the Beavers to more than make a game of it.
OSU finished with 231 yards rushing (5.9 per carry), with Ward getting 145 yards on 17 attempts and Storm Woods adding 73 yards on 15 carries.
Mannion threw for 314 yards but was kept relatively in check, tossing for just two touchdowns, with one interception, and completing 29 of 47.
Mariota finished with 285 yards passing, going 17 for 34, with three touchdowns and two early interceptions.
The Ducks added 283 on the ground, as Aloha High product Tyner ran 22 times with 140 yards and a score in his first Civil War and De'Anthony Thomas got 88 yards on 15 carries, also with a touchdown. Oregon running back Byron Marshall did not suit up because of a foot injury.
It was fun," Tyner said. "I grew up always watching the Civil War games, and for me to actually play in it was exciting and stayed exciting throughout the whole game.
Tyner said Huff told him before the game "to keep my eye on the ball and make sure that I have a lot of ball security. He also said that I have to keep driving and that I have to keep pushing hard.
Cooks caught 10 passes for 110 yards, but did not get into the end zone.
Huff totaled nine catches for 186 yards, with his three TDs all in the final 1 1/2 quarters.
"All week I'd been talking about, if it went down to the wire and we need a big play, just look at me," Huff said. "At halftime, Ifo said, 'It's going to come down to you.' "
"He made big play after big play," Mariota said, of Huff. "He's a special player."
OSU stages comeback
The Beavers rallied to tie Oregon with 17 second-quarter points, taking advantage of some UO turnovers.
The Ducks continued to struggle on their first possession of the second half, with Tyner fumbling on a fourth-down carry, Mariota picking up the ball and coming up short of the first down.
The Beavers couldn't do much else, either, after taking over the UO 44. Mannion threw incomplete in the end zone to Cooks, who had triple coverage. Trevor Romaine nailed a 47-yard field goal, and OSU had its first lead, 20-17.
Mariota started making plays. He threw 11 yards to Bralon Addison on third-and-7 and, later on another third-and-7 play, he knifed through the OSU defense for 21 yards. He threw nine yards to Daryle Hawkins and then rifled a 28-yard TD pass to Huff as the Ducks regained the lead, 24-20.
The Beavers bounced back, but came up a slip short. Ward ran for 25 yards, and Mannion threw to Cooks for seven yards and then to Kellen Clute for 33 yards to the UO 13. Ward's 7-yard screen reception on third down came up one yard short of the first down, and then Ward slipped on fourth-and-1 at the UO 4, short of the first down.
After an OSU defensive stop, the offense went on the move again, thanks to pass interference (Terrance Mitchell) and holding (Brian Jackson) calls on the Ducks.
Woods ran for 11 yards, and Mitchell got called for pass interference.
Mannion threw incomplete later, but Jackson got whistled for holding.
But the Ducks' stiffened, and the Beavers' got pushed back by a false-start penalty on tight end Caleb Smith. On third-and-14, Mannion didn't see a wide-open Woods, instead throwing incomplete over the middle.
Romaine's fourth field goal made it 24-23 just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Some explosive Thomas plays a return and two runs put the Ducks into OSU territory, but the Beavers' defense rose up to force fourth down. And UO freshman Matt Wogan's 43-yard field-goal attempt went wide left.
Ward ripped off a 26-yard run as Beavers went to work again. After a couple incompletions, Mannion threw a clutch 23-yard pass to Smith. Ward ran for 16 yards to the UO 4, and Mannion tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Tyler Anderson, giving OSU the lead at 29-24.
The Beavers, trying to go ahead by seven points, went for two. A UO pass interference (Avery Patterson) brought up a second conversion attempt, but the Ducks stuffed Woods to keep the score 29-24 with 11:05 left.
The Ducks weren't going to quit.
Thomas had a 12-yard run, and Mariota later found Huff for a 38-yard pass play on third-and-8.
Forced to third-and-13, the Ducks answered with another big play, as Tyner ran up the middle for 24 yards to the OSU 11.
The Beavers forced fourth-and-11 at the OSU 12, but Mariota came through with the ultimate clutch play, throwing his 12-yard TD pass to Huff. The two-point conversion pass fell incomplete, leaving the score 30-29 Oregon, with 7:56 left.
And the combatants continued to go back and forth, till finally Oregon stopped Oregon State, or OSU ran out of time, or ...
Im kind of speechless," Oregon safety Brian Jackson said. "That was a shocker. It feels great. Im out of breath because of how hard I was celebrating."
Ducks senior defensive lineman Taylor Hart from Tualatin High took it all in.
After the game, I was down on the field taking pictures with my family and I was thinking that this was it," he said. "I wouldnt want to be anywhere else in my life, and I am thankful for the way this career started and ended for me.
The Ducks, of course, will have one more game, a bowl game somewhere.
10-2 is not a bad deal at all," Hart said. "We might get a little bit spoiled around here, but this program still has a lot of fight left in it, and I am looking forward to a bowl game.
Oregon starts fast
The Ducks ran the ball well looked better, offensively early and led 14-0 in the first quarter.
On Oregon State's one good chance to score, the Beavers established their run, but Mannion threw a play-action pass to Cooks in double coverage in the end zone the Beavs, in other words, went for big things early, rather than be content with a first down.
Ekpre-Olomu's interception gave Oregon the ball, and the Ducks marched up field. Tyner had some fine runs, including a 40-yarder on UO's first play. Thomas had a nice cutback 5-yard TD run, as Mariota fell into some OSU guys for a block.
Mannion hit Smith for 31 yards, but OSU's next possession ended with Mannion on his back, thanks to Torrodney Prevot and Tony Washington.
Mariota threw 16 yards to Huff and 14 to Addison. Tyner ran for 10 yards, Mariota threw to Huff for 18, and Tyner scored on a 13-yard TD run. Oregon led 14-0.
The UO defense rose up again, stopping the Beavers, before the key play of the game happened. Addison mishandled Keith Kostol's punt, with OSU's Ryan Murphy recovering at the Oregon 23 the first of three Duck turnovers in their half of the field.
Romaine missed a field-goal attempt for OSU, but the Ducks got called for running into the kicker, extending OSU's possession. On fourth-and-1, Mannion threw four yards to Cooks, and the third of three Woods' run was his 2-yard TD plunge that put the Beavers on the scoreboard.
Mariota ran a read-option play on UO's next possession and threw four more completions to go to 6-for-6 to start the game. He threw his first of six incompletions in a row, and Thomas couldn't pick up a first down on a third-down carry. Matt Wogan's 20-yard field goal made it 17-7.
The Beavers moved into UO territory, thanks to a 31-yard run by Ward, but stalled with a false start penalty. A 7-yard Mannion-to-Woods pass on third down put OSU at fourth-and-goal at the UO 1. Rather than take a gamble, OSU drew within 17-10 on Romaine's 18-yard field goal.
Mariota then hit a funk with consecutive interceptions near the end of the second quarter. Steven Nelson's pick put OSU at the UO 32. On second down, Mannion found Cooks for 31 yards near the goal line; but, although completed, the officials reviewed the play. On review, officials declared that Cooks had fumbled at the UO 1, with the ball going into the end zone and then out of bounds touchback for Oregon.
But, four plays later, Mariota tried to go up field with a pass, and Rashaad Reynolds pick him off and returned to the UO 27. Mannion threw an 18-yard screen pass to Cooks and later, after an OSU false start penalty, Mannion found Ward in the flat for a 6-yard TD reception.
It was a tie game, 17-17, at halftime. Oregon State had 265 yards, including 88 rushing on 17 carries. Oregon had 262 yards, including 155 rushing on 19 carries. Mannion was 17 of 25 for 177 yards, a TD and an interception. Mariota was 6 of 12 for 107 yards and no TDs and two picks.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
OREGON STATE 0 17 3 15 -- 35
OREGON 14 3 7 12 -- 36
OREGON De'Anthony Thomas 5 run (Matt Wogan kick), 7:35
OREGON Thomas Tyner 13 run (Wogan kick), 0:07
OREGON STATE Storm Woods 2 run (Trevor Romaine kick), 9:35
OREGON Wogan 20 FG, 6:39
OREGON STATE Romaine 18 FG, 2:33
OREGON STATE Terron Ward 6 pass from Sean Mannion (Romaine kick), 0:19
OREGON STATE Romaine 47 FG, 10:44
OREGON Josh Huff 28 pass from Marcus Mariota (Wogan kick), 7:46
OREGON STATE Romaine 37 FG, 14:45
OREGON STATE Tyler Anderson 4 pass from Mannion (run failed), 11:05
OREGON Huff 12 pass from Mariota (pass failed), 7:56
OREGON STATE Victor Bolden 25 run (pass railed), 1:38
OREGON Huff 12 pass from Mariota (pass failed), :29