(PHOTO) Oregon's Josh Huff pulls in a Marcus Mariota pass for the winning touchdown in the last minute of the 117th Civil War. Oregon won the game 36-35. (Photo by Rich Kolbell)
Headed into the game both teams were trying to recover from the worst games of the season. Oregon State lost last Saturday to Washington 69-27 at Corvallis. Meanwhile, Oregon suffered its worst loss in five seasons by laying an egg at Arizona as the Wildcats stomped the Ducks 42-16. The Civil War was on Black Friday, a day where shoppers had arisen early to complete Christmas shopping, but the mood inside Autzen Stadium was rather cautious and when Oregon went out to a 14-point lead in the second quarter it looked as if the Ducks had cured their problems created last week and Oregon State would be searching for its own solutions. However, two costly interceptions given up by quarterback Marcus Mariota gave the Beavers a chance to get back into the game and with the scored tied at 17 when halftime came around the men in orange had a brand new bounce to their step and it was going to be fight, the kind the rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State is known for.
In the second half Oregon scored three touchdowns while Oregon State scored two touchdowns and two field goals. To make things even more complicated, Oregon failed on two 2-point conversion attempts and Oregon State failed on one 2-point conversion.
Overall, Oregon State racked up 545 yards of total offense but Oregon had 568.
Marcus Mariota had thrown only three interceptions all season, but two of them were last week and then in the first half he threw two more. However, when the Ducks most needed a strong performance, Mariota came through and finished the day throwing for 285 yards 17-of-34 and three TDs. Mariota’s favorite target was senior Josh Huff, playing his last game at Autzen and made a day of it with nine receptions for 186 yards and all three of Mariota TD passes.
A new face emerged running the ball too – freshman Thomas Tyner carried the ball 22 times and had a net 140-yards rushing scoring and scoring a touchdown. De'Anthony Thomas also scored a rushing touchdown to extend out his statistical line of 15 carries for 88 net yards. Mariota rushed for 53 net yards including a very timely 20-yard rush in the third quarter that led to his first TD pass to Huff (and subsequent point after by Matt Wogan) that made the score 24-20 Oregon.
The second came the Mariota-Huff combination scored was in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard pass and reception and the score was 30-29 (PAT failed). The third time was something that will be talked about for a long, long time.
Trailing 35-30 with 1:38 left in the game, the Ducks started the drive on the Oregon 17. Mariota hit Daryle Hawkins for 23 yards and a first down to the Oregon 40. Next, Mariota hit Bralon Addison for 19 yards to the OS 41 and again first down, but on the next snapped threw toward Addison, but it was incomplete. Mariota picked up the third, first-down of the drive by connecting with Johnny Mundt for 17 to the OS 24. Mariota then sprinted out on the next snap and was in trouble as Beaver defenders were moving in for a tackle, but he spotted Huff for a five-yard gain.
The Ducks called time out and there was only 50 seconds left on the game clock and 19 yards to go for the go-ahead TD.
Next play, Mariota was incomplete to Evan Baylis after being hurried by Oregon State’s Scott Crichton. The next snap surprised everyone as Mariota handed off to Tyner who went seven yards to the OS 12 and an Oregon first down.
Next play incomplete to Mundt, but at least the clock stopped.
With 29 seconds left in the game, Mariota rolled to the left and threw what he called, “not a very good pass.”
“It was the best pass he’s thrown all year,” said a smiling Josh Huff after the game of his pass he caught for a TD that turned out to be the game winner.
Even though the Ducks tried and failed the convert a 2-point conversion, Oregon led 36-35.
Oregon State had 29 seconds to work with, but could only get to the OS 40 and gave the ball up when Oregon’s Tony Washington recovered a fumble.
The clock read 0:00.
Sean Marrion had a strong showing throwing for 314 yards on 39-for-47 and an interception and two touchdowns. One of the TD passes to Terron Ward and other to Tyler Anderson. Ward was the leading rusher in the game with 145 net yards on 17 carries. Brandin Cooks has been Mannion’s favorite receiver all season long and against the Ducks Cooks had 10 catches for 110 yards.
Beaver place-kicker Trevor Romaine hit three field goals from 18, 47 and 37 yards.
Defensively, Oregon was led in tackling by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu with 12 tackles, all solos plus recording an the sole interception of a Mannion pass and three pass break-ups. Taylor Hart had eight tackles (seven solos) plus adding three pass break-ups.
In all Oregon had three tackles for loss of which two were sacks. Rahim Cassell and Torrodney both had a sack each while Tony Washington was given credit for a TFL. Cassell, Derrick Malone and Terrance Mitchell were given credit for forced fumbles. Mitchell’s forced fumble prevented an OS touchdown in the fourth quarter as Mannion hit Banks at the Oregon 3 but the ball popped out after the catch and somehow hit the pylon forcing the ball the be spotted on the Oregon 20 resulting from a touchback.
Oregon State’s D.J. Alexander had 11 tackles (seven solos) and the Beavers recorded nine TFLs; two each by Sean Martin, Siale Hautau and Scott Crichton, with Ryan Murphy, Dylan Wynn and Rashaad Reynolds have one each. Reynolds and Steven Nelson also recorded an interception each.
After the game Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Alitotti said the game was the “most fun” he’s had coaching in a long time because the contest was close and competitive, not the usual blow out Oregon has come to be known for – at least up until a couple of weeks ago.
Oregon now is 10-2 on the season 7-2 in conference play. Oregon State drops to 6-6 for the season and 4-5 in conference play. The Ducks will go on to play in post-season. No one knows where yet. The Beavers may not go bowling because there are more bowl eligible teams than bowls to play in. However, in that final minute, post season games, national rankings and everything else that goes along with the glitz and glamour of big-time football wasn’t on anyone’s mind.
Another Civil War game when records, point spreads and what-is-supposed-to-happen as prognosticated by those who think they know what they are talking about, is thrown out the window. It was a rivalry game and it came down the way it should – decided in the last minute with both teams having a shot to win.
This time, it was Oregon 36, Oregon State 35 and for the Ducks that’s all that mattered.