Oregon stuffs Arizona for first conference shutout since '03

Steve Mims, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


EUGENE, Ore. -- Known for its offense, Oregon saw its defense play the starring role Saturday.
The third-ranked Ducks held 22nd-ranked Arizona scoreless on seven trips inside Oregon's 30-yard line and got a couple defensive scores to win 49-0 Saturday night in a Pac-12 Conference game at Autzen Stadium.
It was Oregon's first shutout in a conference game since 2003.
"Everyone was clicking on all cylinders," Oregon safety Brian Jackson said. "Everything we did worked together well. There was no miscommunication, everyone knew what they were supposed to do at all times. ... It seemed like we were everywhere. Not just where we were supposed to be, but everywhere at all times."
Arizona began the game ranked among the nation's top offenses with averages of 604.7 yards of total offense and 46.3 points per game, but it was held to 332 total yards by the Ducks.
"Pass defense takes all 11 guys, and our secondary responded," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "Obviously scoring twice on defense is pretty special. We played with enthusiasm and attitude."
Arizona got inside Oregon's 30-yard line on its first five drives. The Wildcats had two turnovers, missed one field-goal attempt and had a bad snap on another, and were stopped once on fourth down during that time.
"Offensively, it was a tale of four bad quarters," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Disappointing we didn't execute better, especially in the red zone. You can't afford to do that against anybody, let alone Oregon."
Oregon took a 13-0 lead at halftime but did not have any of its usual big plays until De'Anthony Thomas returned a punt 38 yards midway through the third quarter.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota completed a 35-yard pass to Colt Lyerla on the next play, and then Lyerla scored on a 1-yard run. Oregon made it 21-0 when punter Jackson Rice completed a pass to kicker Rob Beard for the two-point conversion.
Mariota found freshman Bralon Addison for a 55-yard touchdown pass to give Oregon a 28-0 lead late in the third quarter. The Ducks made it 35-0 when Ifo Ekpre-Olomu returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Bryan Bennett added a 10-yard touchdown run for Oregon before Troy Hill capped the night with a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"We came out and prepared all week for this," Lyerla said. "We came out good and kept playing our game, especially in the second half. It was tough in the first half, but we finally got it rolling."
Mariota was 20-for-35 for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Kenjon Barner had 86 yards on 20 carries for the Ducks, who had 495 yards of total offense.
Oregon scored first on an 88-yard drive, capped by Mariota's 17-yard touchdown pass to Daryle Hawkins with 5:42 left in the first quarter.
Beard stretched the lead to 10-0 on a 27-yard field goal with 5:55 left in the second quarter. He added a 41-yard field goal in the final minute of the half.
Arizona was left regretting so many opportunities in Oregon territory that resulted in no points.
Oregon failed to convert on fourth-and-2 at its own 39-yard line on its first drive, and the Wildcats drove to the Ducks' 4-yard line before lining up for a field goal. A bad snap kept the game scoreless, as Arizona was not able to attempt a kick.
Arizona recovered a fumble on Oregon's second drive and got the ball at the Ducks' 11-yard line, but quarterback Matt Scott was intercepted by Ekpre-Olomu two plays later.
Arizona had a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line on its third drive but was stopped on fourth down. Thomas fumbled on Oregon's next possession, and Arizona recovered at the Ducks' 18-yard line, but John Bonano had a 31-yard field-goal attempt blocked.
Arizona reached Oregon's 29-yard line on its next drive before losing a fumble.
NOTES: Ducks starting wide receiver Josh Huff missed his second consecutive game due to a knee injury. ... Oregon's No. 3 ranking this week is its highest ever after the third week of the season. ... The two interceptions by Ekpre-Olomu, a sophomore, were the first two of his career.