Hell failed to freeze over in Eugene this afternoon. Marcus Mariota, playing on Senior Day in what was likely his final game at Autzen Stadium, led a masterful Ducks offense that racked up 597 yards despite coasting through the entire fourth quarter, with second string quarterback Jeff Lockie leading a group of backup players to the final whistle.
Mariota passed for 323 yards and three TDs and zero interceptions. He added 73 yards and another score on the ground. Freshman running back Royce Freeman gained 105 yards, a 6.2 yards per carry average, and became the Ducks’ latest first-year player to notch more than 1,000 yards in a season.
The Ducks defense stepped up and played one of their better games of the year, holding Colorado to only 226 yards of total offense. The Buffs’ phenomenal receiver, Nelson Spruce, managed only two receptions for a measly 16 yards.
Coolest Play of the Game
Late in the fourth quarter, Ducks basketball star turned football backup, Jonathan Loyd, fielded a punt, bounced from the left sideline across the field, leaving a bevy of baffled Buffs in his wake as he scampered into the end zone. The fact Loyd’s play was called back due to a holding penalty didn’t really matter. The look on his face, and the reception he received from coaches and players when he returned to the Oregon sideline, were priceless.
What Does It Mean?
In the national context, the Ducks handily held serve on a day when top-ranked Alabama hardly impressed with a 48-14 home victory over Western Carolina, and third-ranked Florida State almost lost — for the umpteenth time this season — pulling out a 20-17 win against Boston College. The Ducks probably at least solidified their hold on the No. 2 spot today. Next up: the always pesky Beavers, in Mordor… er, Reser Stadium.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck