(PHOTO) Oregon Ducks running Back Kenjon Barner (24) breaks free for a touchdown against the Southern California Trojans during the second half at Autzen Stadium. The Trojans won 38-35. Credit: Jim Z. Rider
However, when Chip Kelly took the podium in the post- game interviews he was more interested in addressing things that went wrong for the Ducks throughout the game, and now looks forward to getting back to work on Sunday in order to prepare for the Oregon State Beavers in the Civil War.
"You can't make the mistakes we made, especially against a good football team,” Chip Kelly said of USC.”In this league when you're playing the upper echelon teams [turnovers are] something you can't do, especially turnovers in the red zone.”
The Ducks turned the ball over at costly times. In the first half as Oregon appeared to be on a scoring drive, LaMichael James coughed up the ball on USC’s 9-yard line with 23 seconds left to go in the half and trailing 21-7.
All through the first half, Oregon’s high powered offense sputtered, being completely shut out in the first quarter and managing only one scoring drive that culminated with a 29-yard scoring play on a pass from Darron Thomas to De’Anthony Thomas. However, the reason for the Ducks’ problems can be attributed to USC’s excellent defensive effort. Meanwhile, the Oregon defense seemed to be perplexed by USC quarterback Matt Barkley and his favorite receiver Marqise Lee.
“He’s the best quarterback we’ve faced this season,” Kelly said of Barkley.
Barkley finished the night by going 26-for-34, 323 yards, four touchdowns but did give up one interception that helped key a furious Oregon comeback in the fourth quarter.
Lee, was sensational by catching eight balls for 187 yards and a touchdown. Robert Woods had seven catches for 53 yards and two first half touchdowns.
“Marqise Lee, Robert Woods and (Matt) Barkley were exactly what we thought they would be,” admitted Kelly.
Oregon (9-2, 7-1) was unable to move the ball effectively at the start of the third quarter and for the first time this season had a punt blocked on the first drive on the half that resulted in a field goal by USC’s Andre Heidari. Kenjon Barner was inserted into the game and the Ducks offense started showing signs of life. Barner scored on a nine-yard run, but the Trojans came right back on the ensuing drive and scored when Marc Tyler punched the ball in from the 3. Later in the quarter Barkley hit Randall Telfer with a 5-yard scoring pass giving USC (9-2, 6-2) its biggest lead of the night, 38-24 after the successful PAT.
While spirits in sold out Autzen stadium (59,933) plummeted, De’Anthony Thomas caused the crowd to get back into the game with an electric 96-yard kickoff return for score on USC’s kickoff after Telfer’s TD. The Ducks did not convert the 2-point after attempt but the crowd sensed something good might happen in the fourth quarter with the scoring reading 38-20.
Oregon scored 21-straight points including Thomas’ kick return. Barner scored again on an 8-yard run and after Barkley gave up his only interception of the night to John Boyett, the Ducks moved the ball down field and finished off the drive with a 1-yard run by James. The point after on James’ score was initially ruled incomplete but a replay review by officials determined that Lavasier Tuinei did in fact catch the ball fairly in the endzone and the crowd was wild with the score 38-35. On USC’s last drive of the game, the handoff between Tyler and Barkley was fumbled on Oregon’s 11 and recovered by the Ducks’ Brandon Hanna. With only 2:31 left in the game, Oregon drove the ball to the USC 20, but Maldanado’s attempt hooked with no time left on the clock and the game was over.
"They were very good at coverage,” said Kelly of the last drive. “We had some routes that got to the end zone, but they were covered and they did a good job. What you don't want to do in that situation is force it. We would settle for three. We would have liked a touchdown a lot better. I thought we had a shot [at winning] up until the last tick of that clock. But that's what that team does, they don't get down and I will give them a ton of credit. They feel like if they just keep playing something is going to happen. When our defense needed to make plays today, they did."
For the game Oregon had 474 yards of total offense including 209 yards rushing and 265 passing. Barner was the leading rusher with 123 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries which is the fourth time this season he has broken the 100-yard rushing mark for a game. James had 78 yards rushing and a touchdown plus 11 yards in punt returns which moved him into first on Oregon’s career list for all-purpose yards, surpassing Derek Loville (who was an honorary captain for the game). James now has 5,310 all-purpose yards. Darron Thomas’ passing yardage of 265 yards propelled him into eighth place on the Oregon’s career list for total offense with 5,767 yards, replacing another honorary captain for the game Akili Smith. Thomas was 23-of-35 with one touchdown and no interceptions. Thomas’ touchdown throw to De’Anthony Thomas marks the 23rd straight appearances that Thomas has thrown a touchdown.
Defensively, Michael Clay had a team high of 12 tackles (five solos). Oregon recorded four tackles for loss including one team sack. Eddie Pleasant Anthony Wallace and John Boyett were given credit for one TFL apiece. Oregon was only credited with one pass break up for the game.
Curtis McNeal was the Trojan’s leading ground gainer with 94 net yards on 20 carries.
Now the Ducks head into the Civil War in a game that can decide if Oregon will hold the inaugural conference championship game and an opportunity to return to the Rose Bowl.
"Whether we win or lose, we have to put it behind us,” Kelly said of the upcoming match up with the Beavers.”The players have treatment tomorrow at 11 and we will be back at practice on Monday."