While speculation centered on the performance of certain freshmen heading into Oregon's season…
Oregon Opens Up With a 62-13 Win
“Offensively, I thought we got off to a really good start," said Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich of the game. "Defensively, we didn’t get off to as good of a start. We’ll make some corrections, but obviously I’m very pleased with our victory.”
The Ducks did what they wanted on offense but the defense struggled at times against and FCS Division team South Dakota. The Coyotes finished with 370 total yards but were held scoreless in the second half.
Marcus Mariota threw for 267 yards with three touchdowns of 62 yards (to Dwayne Stanford for the first score of the game), 41 yards (to Byron Marshall for the second score) and 11 yards (again to Marshall).Mariota also hit Darren Carrington for a 34-yard gain that led directly to the Ducks when Carrington was hauled down at the South Dakota 1. Mariota finished the drive off by handing the ball to freshman Royce Freeman, who scored his first collegiate touchdown. Freeman would follow up with a second TD in the second quarter on a 26-yard run.
In one of the more unusual plays of the game, Marshall took a handoff and broke for the endzone and actually out ran all the defenders but as he was taking a step into the endzone, he let go of the ball. Initially the officials called a touchdown but upon review ruled that the ball actually came out of Marshall’s hands before he crossed the goal line. The ball was ruled a fumble at the South Dakota 1 and a touchback as the ball bounced into the endzone then out of bounds.
“Huge mental mistake," Marshall said of the play. "I’ve never really made a dumber play before in my life. Out of all the good that happened tonight, that’s the only thing that’s really on my mind. Stuff like that shouldn’t happen. It happens. No one’s perfect. But a mistake like that could cost us the game.”
However, the Ducks forced a fumble on the very next play when Oregon safety Reggie Daniel knocked the ball out of Coyote’s running back Trevor Bouma’s hands and cornerback Dior Mathis recovered the ball. Marshall may have been on Head Coach Mark Helfrich’s list with the mistake on lost ball after a great run, but Marshall bounced back with a 17-yard reception from Mariota to pick up a first down then later in the drive he caught another Mariota pass for an 11-yard TD.
“We had a good discussion,” said Helfrich of Marshall’s drop. “Just give it to the official.”
South Dakota managed to two field goals by Miles Bergner (47 yards and 25 yards) then scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run by Bouma and cut Oregon’s lead to 35-13. With about a minute and half left in the fourth quarter, Mariota orchestrated a drive starting at the Oregon 24 and in a minute 22 seconds skillfully moved the ball down field and finished the drive off when the Oregon signal caller ran the ball in from the 1.
The Ducks pick up in the second half with Jeff Lockie at the quarterback helm. Lockie 12 passes, completing 11 throws for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Then No. 6 made his presence felt. Wait a minute, No. 6 was De’Anthony Thomas and he’s now on the Kansas City Chief’s roster, but this No. 6 was freshman Charles Nelson and he made the best DAT impression since, well, Thomas. Nelson received a punt and it was like watching Thomas as Nelson weaved his way down the field and returned the ball 50 yards for a touchdown.
Pharaoh Brown was on the receiving end of Lockie’s pass and the Oregon scoring concluded with Kenny Bassett ran the ball in from the 9 and following Adian Schneider’s successful PAT or had 62 points.
Marshall was the leading receiver with eight catches for 138 yards and two TDs and was also the leading rusher with 90 yards on eight carries. Royce Freeman finished with 75 yards on 10 carries and two TDs. The starting running back Thomas Tyner had 11 carries for 65 yards. Mariota contributed 43 yards on six carries while Bassett had three carries for 21 yards and a score.
Carrington finished with four catches for 68 yards.
Defensively, the Ducks were led by Erick Dargan and Reggie Daniels both with seven tackles including four solo tackles each. Daniels was also credited with a forced fumble. The defensive front was well represented in tackles with DeForest Buckner (6), Arik Armstead (4), Alex Balducci (4), Austin Maloata (4) Sam Kamp (2) Terrence Daniel (1) and Stetzon Bair (1) accounted for 22 tackles.
The Ducks recorded three sacks among the six tackles for loss.
There were no interceptions recorded four pass break ups and four quarterback hurries.
The Ducks did not attempt a field goal but Ian Wheeler punted twice for a 38.5 yard average with one ball landing inside the 20.
South Dakota’s Kevin Earl demonstrated a quick release and accurate throwing arm and threw for 136 yards on 1-for-26 passing. Jasper Sanders was the leading rusher with 65 net yards on five carries. Bouma was South Dakota’s leading rusher with 14 carries, 60 net yards and a touchdown.
Oregon takes on Michigan State next week at Autzen Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
• Marcus Mariota tossed three touchdown passes, tying Darron Thomas for the UO career record with 66.
• Mariota extended his streak of throwing at least one TD to 27 straight games (or every game of his career).
• With four total TDs (3 passing, 1 rushing) Mariota broke a tie with Joey Harrington for most total touchdowns in Oregon history and now has 82 (66 passing, 15 rushing, 1 receiving).
• Byron Marshall career-highs of 8 catches and 138 receiving yards. He also had a game-high 90 yards rushing.
• Dwayne Stanford’s first career TD catch and career-long reception was also the longest pass of Mariota’s career (62 yards).
• Ten true freshmen saw the field for the Ducks: LS Tanner Carew, OG Tyrell Crosby, OLB Justin Hollins, RB Royce Freeman, WR/RET Charles Nelson, DL Austin Maloata, DL Henry Mondeaux, LB Jimmie Swain, DB Arrion Springs, PK Aidan Schneider.
• True freshmen accounted for 3 TDs: 2 rushing for Freeman, 1 punt return for Nelson.
• Jeff Lockie had career-highs of 11 completions, 12 attempts, 113 yards and 1 TD in reserve of Mariota.
• The Ducks were a perfect 5 of 5 in the Red Zone (all touchdowns) and 7 of 9 on 3rd down - both areas they were looking to improve on from last season.
• Four-year basketball letterman Johnathan Loyd made his college football debut and had a reception for 2 yards.
• First-year starter at safety Reggie Daniels tied for the team-high with 7 tackles and also forced a fumble.
• The Oregon defense pitched a shutout in the second half for the second straight game (Texas in the Alamo Bowl).
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