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November 24, 2012The No. 5 Oregon Ducks entered their contest with No. 15 Oregon State looking to bounce back from a tough home loss to Stanford last week. With the hopes of a BCS National Championship faint, at best, Oregon was playing for an at large BCS bid.
The Ducks opened strong marching down the field capping the drive with a 42 yard Marcus Mariota run and an early 6-0 lead.
After exchanging punts for a couple of series, the Beavers took advantage of the first three-and-out by Oregon to take good field position and quickly march down the field for a 7-6 lead on a 7 yard run by Storm Woods.
Not wasting any time, the Ducks took the ensuing kickoff and marched somewhat methodically down the field for a 13-7 lead on De'Anthony Thomas' 2-yard touchdown run with 13:19 left in the first half.
Playing in his first Civil War, Marcus Mariota was cool and poised for most of the game.
"It was a fun atmosphere," Mariota said. "I'm proud of the way the guys handled it."
After a fourth down stop gave the Ducks good field position, they continued their assault on the edge of the Beaver defense marching down the field for a one yard touchdown run by Kenjon Barner to give the Ducks a 20-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Ducks would intercept Sean Mannion on the next possession at their own 3 yard line ending a Beaver drive. Oregon would get the ball out of the shadow of the end-zone and punt the ball back to the Beavers pinning them inside their 20 yard line for the first time in the game.
The Beavers were able to make a late push for a 36 yard field goal to cut the lead to 20-10 heading into the locker room for halftime.
Kenjon Barner had a brilliant first half carrying the ball 20 times for 164 yards before heading to the locker room a little early with an undisclosed injury. Despite holding just a 10 point lead at the half, the Ducks offense owned most of the half with 273 rushing yards on 8.8 yards per carry against the second stingiest rushing defense in the Pac-12 Conference.
Oregon State took the opening kickoff and worked down the field. Facing a third and 11, the Ducks had appeared to stop the drive but a pass interference kept the drive alive and gave Oregon State momentum as they worked down for Storm Woods' second 2-yard touchdown run of the game cutting the lead to 20-17 for the Ducks.
On the ensuing Duck drive a great catch by Josh Huff on 3rd and 17 extended the drive as Oregon quickly moved down to extend the lead to 27-17 on Thomas' second touchdown carry of the game.
The Ducks, whose kickoff coverage had struggled for the last few weeks, used a "pooch" kick to perfection. After the ball bounced off a Beaver player, the Ducks recovered the ball at the Beaver 34 yard line. On fourth and five, Thomas swept to the right and scored on a 29 yard scamper to extend the Duck lead to 34-17 with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
"We ran some plays in the first half, had the opportunity to wear them down. Usually, that's what we do," Head Coach Chip Kelly said.
Turnovers were the story of this game, though, as the Ducks took advantage of several miscues including an interception by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu that led to a short Kenjon Barner run extending the Duck lead to 41-17 with 12:51 left in the game.
At that point, the game was all but decided as the Ducks took advantage of Sean Mannion's third interception scoring a touchdown on Mariota's two-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Kelley moving the lead to 48-17 lead with 10:21 to play in the game.
Kenjon Barner would finish the game with 29 carries for 221 yards and two touchdowns while Thomas reached over the 100 yard plateau carrying the ball 17 times for 122 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Duck defense ended the game with four interceptions. Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti was surprised to learn that the Ducks now lead the nation in interceptions.
"We lead the nation? Really?" Aliotti exclaimed. "Sweet! We are 11-1 and that is a darn good season. Wish we could have won one more game, but we'll get back to work Monday," Aliotti continued.
After the tough loss last weekend knocked the Ducks out of the national championship race, the players were eager to get back on the field.
"You can let it define you, destroy you or strengthen you," Kenjon Barner said. "With this team, every loss we've taken in the past, it's strengthened us, made us stronger. Looking back on Stanford, it was a loss. We knew what we had to do to get back on the winning track, and we did it."
Mariota finished the game 17-24 for 139 yards and one touchdown through the air to go along with 8 carries for 85 yards and one rushing touchdown.
"The offensive line did an awesome job tonight. To run for over 400 yards, it's a token for what they've done," Mariota said.
The win moved Oregon to 11-1 overall and 8-1 in conference play.
"I feel good about where we are. We are 11-1. We had one tough loss that took it out of our hands," Kelly said.
With the Stanford victory and subsequent Notre Dame victory, the Ducks will be looking for an at-large BCS bid a week from Sunday.