The final score of the contest was 57-34, but just looking at the box score doesn’t do this game justice.
No, this wasn’t the jaw-dropping final score of 84-0 that Oklahoma State put on FCS-level Savannah State. However, in the first quarter of the game, Oregon made Arkansas State look like an FCS program.
“It was great, playing with this Oregon team,” said running back De’Anthony Thomas, who showed his Heisman-worthy ability. “We are great. Offense is moving really well. We are definitely more of a tempo team and we have absolutely turned it up.”
The Ducks scored on their first seven possessions of the game. All of them were touchdowns, and the first was capped with a two-point conversion fake to defensive end Dion Thomas. That’s 50 points in 23 minutes. Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota looked in midseason form, capping his night going 18-22 for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Zero interceptions.
It was as if the spring game was just a week ago.
“It was surreal running through the tunnel for the first time,” Mariota said. “I am from a small school so it was a bit of a shock to run out to 60,000 screaming fans. After the butterflies went away it was fun to see how crazy these fans are about their football, it made me relax and just have fun out there.”
Turns out the whole team had a lot of fun. Along with Thomas’ 121 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, senior running back Kenjon Barner had nine carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers Josh Huff and Rahsaan Vaughn both picked up a touchdown and had similar nights of two catches for 22 yards.
“We are far from a one man show,” said head coach Chip Kelly on the team’s image, “we all work together to get the win.”
After the 50 points were put up on the scoreboard, Oregon backed away and gave some time to the rest of the depth, including backup quarterback Bryan Bennett. He was in contention to become the starter this season. He finished the night going 10-17 for 108 yards and a touchdown, and also had a pick.
“Overall it was a good game,” Kelly said. “We got a lot of players in, so that will give us some good film to study next week.”
Considering a team that just won the Sun Belt a year ago and returned their senior quarterback Ryan Aplin, there wasn’t any quit in the Red Wolves. When Kelly called off the instant offense, the opponents looked pretty good on the offensive end.
Aplin went 29-44 for 304 yards and three touchdowns, only getting picked off once by the defense. He grabbed another touchdown on the ground, tucking the ball for himself 12 times and a net total of 37 yards. Running backs David Oku and Frankie Jackson both combined with 19 carries for 153 yards but no scores.
Josh Jarboe was the leading receiver, landing 13 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.
It’s what you would consider some solid playing time for Arkansas State as they head into the season and try to become “the next Boise State,” according to their head coach Gus Mahlzan.
Tonight though, they didn’t belong on the same field. The Ducks showed their muscles in an absolute demolition derby, putting them right at the top with all the big dogs in college football.
Quotes from the Oregon Ducks’ official athletic webpage.