Justin Herbert won it for the Oregon Ducks in the final seconds and the Oregon Defense stepped up their game in a big win.
The Oregon Ducks and Utah Utes met on Senior Day at Rice-Eccles Stadium and the Utes brought emotion from the start, and why not? They had more to play for. Win two games and head to the Pac-12 Championship from the South Division. Oregon was playing for Pride.
Oregon started with the ball and got off to a quick start needing just two plays to get across midfield. The Utah Defense held the Ducks on 4th and 1 after Justin Herbert went for it and turned the ball over to Utah.
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Utah was first on the board on a scampering run through the Oregon Ducks Defense as Corey Butler-Byrd ran for a touchdown. The Ducks are among the worst in the nation in Rush Defense, but Troy Dye almost made a shoestring saving tackle. Oregon started their second drive from the 7-yard line.
The Oregon Ducks second drive saw key plays from Jalen Brown and Johnny Mundt. It resulted in a 47-yard field goal from Aiden Schneider. It was announced that Tight End Pharoah Brown did not travel with the team to Utah. Earlier this week the Daily Emerald reported that Brown was involved in some off the field issues. It is not known if this was part of the reasoning for him not making the trip. Brown also suffered what could have been a career-ending injury two seasons ago at Utah which may have also been a factor in not making the trip.
Nov 19, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) passes the ball as Utah Utes defensive tackle Pasoni Tasini (59) rushes during the first quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
The Oregon Defense picked up a big stop after a third down bat-down by Justin Hollins and a short third down run from Joe Williams that came up a yard short. Utah went for it on 4th down and was stopped setting up the Ducks at the 26-yard line.
Off a first down run from Justin Herbert, Charles Nelson was called for Targeting on a block. The play went eo review with just under 9 minutes left in the first half. Nelson would be disqualfied from the game and the Ducks were faced with a 3rd and 11 erasing the first down. Oregon punted the ball to the Utah 3 where the Utes would begin their next drive.
Utah on the next drive would get to inside the Oregon 10 before Jimmy Swain forced the ball out on Joe Williams for a Defense takeaway and the Ducks recovered with just over 3 minutes left in the first half of a close game.
Nov 19, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman (21) is tackled by Utah Utes defensive back Brian Allen (14) and linebacker Cody Barton (30) during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Royce Freeman started off the drive with a 28-yard run followed by a pass to Tony Brooks-James to get Oregon to the Utah 40-yard line. Johnny Mundt took Oregon to the 21-yard line. The drive stalled at the 20-yard line and Aiden Schneider missed a 20-yard field goal taking it to the half.
Just in the second half Utah Running Back Joe Williams broke 1000 yards for the season on the Utes first drive of the second half. The Ducks would force Utah into a 3 and out giving the ball back to the Ducks Offense. The pace of the game has been slower than a typical Oregon game. Even this season the pace has been faster. Mark Helfrich got the ball back down just four points.
Joe Williams would add a touchdown on the next Utah drive taking it in from 12-yards out giving him 92 yards for the game and his 9th score of the season. Oregon would need to respond on their next drive after a rather pedestrian showing in the first half on Offense.
It would take three drives before the Oregon Offense was able to break through to make it 14-10. Justin Herbert threw a pass to Jalen Brown wide open in the end zone for the score. The Oregon Defense has done a solid job holding the Utah Offense and would need to do it again to give the Ducks a chance to take the lead.
Through three-quarters, Oregon held Utah to 33 percent conversion on third down and closed out the third with another forcing Quarterback Troy Williams out of bounds. The Oregon Offense would get the ball to start the 4th Quarter.
Justin Herbert engineered one of the best drives of his young career with Royce Freeman, Tony Brooks-James, and Darren Carrington getting the Oregon Ducks to the Utah 3-yard line. Two plays later Freeman took into the end zone for 6.
The Oregon Defense stopped Utah on five straight drives and would look to make it six. The Ducks would again take the Utes to 3rd down and force a punt, but Dillon Mitchell muffed the punt and touched the ball as it rolled into the endzone picked up by Utah. After review, it was a touchdown for the Utes to take a 21-17 lead.
Nov 19, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Troy Williams (3) drops back to pass as Oregon Ducks defensive lineman Gary Baker (51) rushes during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
On the Ducks ensuing drive Royce Freeman broke 4000 yards for his career and picked up 115 yards for the game making back to back 100-yard games for the Oregon Running Back. The shootout continued as Jalen Brown hauled in a pass form Justin Herbert at the Utah 6 yard line. Three plays later Herbert would take it in himself for the score 24-21. Mark Helfrich watched his team rack up 500 yards of Offense to that point with 6:41 left in the game.
Utah would score on a 30 yard touchdown pass to take the lead 28-24 with just over two minutes left. It was an exciting game and it was clear that the Oregon team was not giving up on the season.
Darren Carrington gave the Oregon Ducks the lead with :02 left and Mark Helfrich and Company a 30-28 lead. In the end it was a much needed win for the Oregon Ducks. The Defense stepped up for possibly their best overall performance of the season.
For a game that meant little but pride for the Oregon Ducks, their heart showed through with some big time determination. The Ducks wrap up the season next weekend in Corvallis in the 120th edition of the Civil War against Oregon State.