EUGENE, OR – After a tough loss at home last week to Washington, the Oregon Ducks (12) kept their Pac-12 Championship hopes alive with a gritty 20-17 victory against the Utah Utes (10).
Oregon’s offense looked different Saturday night as offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham found ways to keep a banged-up Bo Nix in the pocket, only asking him to run the ball once all night when the game was on the line. A first down away from victory, Nix rushed 2 yards for the first down allowing the Ducks to run the clock out.
Head Coach Dan Lanning said, “We asked Bo right before that play if we could run the play knowing that the two options were to hand it off or for him to keep it and he said ‘absolutely’. That guy’s got, heart”.
Nix finished with 287 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Oregon was fighting multiple injuries, but Lanning had his guys ready to compete. Bo Nix stated after the game that “It was a tough week. A lot of guys didn’t know if they were going to play this week. A lot of guys were hurt. A lot of guys were sick. One of our DNA traits is toughness”.
The Ducks had most of the momentum early, heading into halftime with a 14-3 lead, but things quickly unfolded at the start of the 3rd quarter. Backup quarterback Ty Thompson started the second half off with a reverse to Don’t’e Thornton which was fumbled and recovered for an 11-yard touchdown by Utah linebacker Karene Reid, making it a one-score game at 17-10.
Utah would go on to tie the game at 17-17 with 7:00 left in the 4th quarter with an 18-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Dixon.
The Ducks responded to Dixon’s touchdown with a 41-yard field goal from Camden Lewis, bringing the score to what would ultimately be the final at 20-17, but would give Utah three chances to score before securing the win.
Utah quarterback Cameron Rising struggled all night and was unable to take advantage of the three opportunities to take the lead late throwing an interception to Oregon safety Bennett Williams, his third interception of the night, and failing to convert two fourth down tries.
Oregon will make the short trip up Interstate 5 next Saturday to play in-state rival Oregon State (8-3), where a win would send them to Las Vegas to compete for the Pac-12 Championship and the chance at a Rose Bowl appearance.