Fiery Thomas fuels Ducks second-half surge

Oregon RB De'Anthony Thomas

De'Anthony Thomas is used to being targeted by opposing defenses. But when he was thrown down like a rag doll after the whistle early in the second half against No. 16 ranked Oregon State, the usually mild-mannered Oregon running back fired back with a stomp to Beavers cornerback Jordan Poyer's chest.

(PHOTO): Oregon Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) runs the ball against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Credit: Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

Though it resulted in a personal foul, Thomas started running with more of an edge as a result, something that the No. 5 ranked Ducks needed clinging to a 20-17 lead with starting running back Kenjon Barner standing on the sidelines following an apparent first half abdominal injury.

"I was kind of mad because all of the other plays there were cheap shots - trying to twist people's ankles under the pile and stuff like that," Thomas said.

Inadvertently, Oregon State lit a fire underneath number six, who would go on to score on a shifty five yard run to cap the Ducks first drive of the second half, his second score of the game. That score started a streak of 28 unanswered points by Oregon, allowing them to pull away with a 48-24 victory in the 116th Civil War, the Ducks fifth straight win against the Beavers.

"That's De'Anthony Thomas," Barner said. "He's a great player."

Thomas had three scores on the day, including a 29-yard dash on fourth down on the following drive to put the Ducks up 34-17. The speedy sophomore finished with 122 yards rushing on 17 carries, helping propel an Oregon offense that racked up 570 yards on the Beavers defense.

"When you can bring (Thomas) off the bench it's a huge boost for us," Oregon head coach Chip Kelly said.

Though Oregon capitalized on a string of five OSU turnovers in the second half (they had six for the game), it was Thomas who provided the spark in the backfield, which quickly turned into problem for the Beavers defense.

"I felt like I did pretty good," Thomas said of his performance. "I was just trying to get the momentum going for our team, makes plays, try to get everyone on the same page and have fun."

And Thomas wasn't even the Ducks leading rusher. Barner, who set the tone in the first half with 147 yards, finished with 198 yards rushing and two scores on two carries, returning to the game to pour on the finishing touches with a 1-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to put Oregon up 41-17, in what will be his last regular season game in a Ducks uniform.

But, Thomas gave a glimpse into the future of the backfield in a hotly contested game that saw a few scuffles in the second half between players.

"It definitely is a good feeling to know that you have guys behind you that can go in and pick up right where you left off from and take it from there," Barner said.

"The one thing where we've always been fortunate is that we have a couple of really good players at that position," Kelly said.

After the game Thomas high-fived fans heading into the locker room and reverted back into the mild-mannered, soft-spoken athlete, giving credit to his offensive line for allowing him to break free.

"Next year we are going to have a lot to accomplish and I just can't wait to see that line develop," Thomas said.

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