Ducks rebound from slow start to rout Cougars

Josh Liebeskind, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


SEATTLE -- Down by just four at the half and outplaying Oregon in nearly all aspects of the game, it
appeared the Washington State Cougars were poised to give the second-ranked Ducks a run for their money on Saturday night.
But in a near-replica of the week before, Oregon rebounded from a slow start to blow the game open
shortly after halftime. This time it happened to be the Cougars that were left in the dust.
The Ducks scored three straight touchdowns in quick succession to begin the second half to beat
Washington State 51-26 at CenturyLink Field in the "Seattle Game," the Cougars' annual home contest played at the residence of the NFL's Seahawks.
"We knew it was going to be a game, back-and-forth," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "We made a couple mistakes in the first half. ... I think our coaches made great adjustments on both sides of the ball, and really that third quarter I think was the difference."
The momentum the Cougars (2-3, 0-2 Pac-12) carried into the locker room was quickly quelled by a furious Oregon (5-0, 2-0) run that started with an uncharacteristically methodical drive to open the second half. The six-minute, 20-second drive, which was capped by a De'Anthony Thomas touchdown on the 18th play, was the longest of the season for the Ducks.
"That first drive was going to be key for us, kind of setting the tone for what we wanted to do," Kelly
said. "I think everybody contributed and made plays. I thought we were balanced, we had a lot of guys
contribute.
"They made us work for it. They did a decent job, so I give Washington State credit. They did a real
good job, I thought, defensively. They had a good plan and it took us a little while to get on the right
track, but I think we got on the right track by the end of it."
That drive was just the beginning, though. Avery Patterson took an interception to the house on the
ensuing Washington State drive, and after a three-and-out by the Oregon defense, the offense punched in another touchdown.
With that, the rout was on, and the Ducks were in a familiar position.
"It was definitely a momentum shift and we just took it and ran with it," said Patterson of his
interception.
The interception was just one of many good plays by the Oregon defense, as the Ducks sacked Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday seven times, eventually knocking him off the field in the final minutes.
"We turned it up cause we know that's all they were going to do, is throw the ball," said Dion Jordan,
who had one sack. "We really had to get after the quarterback or he was going to sit back there and find
guys for the whole half. We just turned it up and we tried to get him out of the pocket a little bit and
tried to get their offensive line on their heels. That's exactly what we did. I feel like those guys got
more tired than we did that second half."
Despite sputtering to a poor start with a three-and-out and then allowing the Ducks to find the end zone
in just over a minute, Washington State played an inspiring first half of football and trailed just 23-19
heading into the locker room.
"We started out frantic. That happens," Washington State head coach Mike Leach said. "I've had teams who have never come out of it. They know they are playing a good opponent and they try to do too much. We battled away."
The Cougars defense led the effort by bottling up the electric Oregon offense. The Ducks found the end zone three times before halftime and were successful on a 34-yard field goal, but were denied on a two-point conversion, as well as a fourth down inside the Washington State 10-yard line.
Oregon has made a name for itself with a fast and furious offense, one that has a knack of finding the
end zone in a hurry. On the few occasions the Cougars could not contain the Ducks, the points came in that quick fashion -- all scoring drives were under three minutes.
Kenjon Barner accounted for two of the three Oregon first-half touchdowns and had four total, including
an 80-yard run. Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota had a tough day, throwing two interceptions and only one touchdown. He did rush for another score.
Despite being under pressure all night, Halliday threw for 348 yards and a touchdown. That score went to Marquess Wilson, who had 182 yards receiving and became the all-time leading receiver in Cougars history with 2,893 yards, passing Brandon Gibson.
NOTES: Jake Rodgers started at right tackle instead of Wade Jacobson for Washington State. Jacobson, who is listed first on the depth chart, left last Saturday's game against Colorado in the first half, although there was no official reason given. ... Freshman Teondray Caldwell continues to contribute on special teams, returning a kickoff in the first quarter for 92 yards. It is his third return of 50-plus yards this season. ... Kenjon Barner's 57 yards on the ground in the first half were enough to pass Ahmad Rashad for eighth in all-time career rushing yards at Oregon.