It was not only good to have Oregon football back, but also fans back at Autzen Stadium on Saturday. The game started in the smoke and ended with the sunshine and a victory.
The game started off with several key defensive plays including a sack and ball knockout by Kayvon Thibodeaux. He did not see much past the first quarter and went out with what appeared to be a lower leg injury. The talented Ducks’ defensive end was seen in a walking boot and did not return to the sideline for the second half of the game.
The Oregon defense was able to do just enough against Fresno State. The first half saw Oregon with a 21-13 lead. CJ Verdell and Travis Dye started the scoring for Oregon which was a 14-0 fast start before Fresno State added a pair of field goals in the second quarter. Both teams traded touchdowns before halftime with Anthony Brown finding Johnny Johnson III and Fresno State’s Jake Haener finding Jalen Cropper to make it 21-13 at the break.
The second half saw Oregon struggle on offense. They ran the ball and were not able to find any rhythm with either Verdell or Dye. On the other side, Fresno State was able to seize the momentum from the first half and tie the game at 21.
Both teams found success on third down throughout the game with the Ducks going 6-for-16, Fresno State was 7-for-15. The Bulldogs also went for it on fourth down in the final three minutes on what was their final offensive possession of the game. It would have been a fourth-and-5, but a false start penalty pushed it back to fourth-and-10 which led to a turnover on downs. Oregon needed one first down and kneeled out to win the game 31-24.
Oregon football defense stepped up in the clutch
The Ducks’ defense also had four forced fumbles against Fresno State showing their strength down the stretch, even without Thibodeaux in the lineup. Jordan Happle had some big plays for the Ducks. Justin Flowe led the team with 14 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble.
Fresno State was held in negative rushing yards into the second half and finished the game with 77 rushing yards. Quarterback Jake Haener finished the game 30-for-43 for 298 yards and a score. Anthony Brown, who saw his protection struggle at times was 15-for-24 for 172 yards and a score through the air along with a 30-yard scamper that was the game-winner for the Ducks.
The Ducks were penalized for 86 yards today and had eight calls against them, most of them on defense and some for boneheaded things like roughing the passer or pass interference. Things will need to be cleaned up for sure.
Oregon now travels east to face Ohio State next weekend.
The Ducks and Buckeyes will meet next Saturday and kickoff is set for just after 9 a.m. PST on FOX.