Eugene, OR –The Oregon Ducks narrowly defeated Arizona State 31-29 Saturday night, spoiling any hopes Herm Edwards and company had of winning the Pac-12 South this season.
Oregon’s run-first offense started fast, marching down field 78 yards for a touchdown in 9 plays giving the Ducks an early 7-0 lead. The opening drive was led by Travis Dye’s 3 carries for 50 yards and capped off by a CJ Verdell 6-yard touchdown run.
In what was potentially Justin Herbert’s last game in Autzen Stadium, he completed 19/34 passes for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Although both interceptions came off of tipped balls, Herbert certainty didn’t look his best Saturday but, the connection with Dillon Mitchell was alive and well. Mitchell led the Ducks in receiving with 103 yards and 1 touchdown.
Arizona State capitalized on Herbert’s first interception, scoring on the next play. Sun Devil QB Manny Wilkins found WR Frank Derby for a 22-yard touchdown pass, making it a one score game with 50 seconds left in the first half at 21-13. Oregon immediately responded with a quick score of their own, going 71 yards in just 39 seconds, and regaining a 15-point lead at half after an 8-yard TD rush by Jaylon Redd.
The Ducks struggled to find any rhythm in the second half, failing to score another touchdown the rest of the night.Commenting on the night’s turnovers and overall lack of production in the second half, Mario Cristobal stated “We kept finding ways to give the ball back to them. We should have turned in a lot more points and a lot more yards”.
Fortunately for Cristobal, his defense continued to stay strong on crucial stands, forcing Arizona State to punt 8 times on the night, and holding them to 3 field goals. Leading the defense in total tackles at 12, Troy Dye brought his season total above 100 for the second straight year.
In what ended up being the deciding moment of the game, the Oregon defense was put on the spot again after Arizona State tried tying the game at 31 with a two-point conversion. Manny Wilkins found Frank Derby in the back of the end zone, but he was questionably ruled out of bounds on the field with no review.
After forcing Herbert’s second interception of the night, Arizona State had another chance at a game winning drive with 3:47 to play. Only needing a field goal, Wilkins moved the ball into Oregon territory when he found WR N’Keal Harry for a first down, but the catch was overturned after a booth review. Wilkins fumbled the next play, and Oregon would go on to run the clock out.
The Oregon Ducks will travel to Oregon State next Friday, November 22nd for the “Civil War”, which Mario Cristobal referred to as the “Most important game of the year”.