BOULDER, Colo. (AP) At the team hotel before the game, several Oregon players got stuck in an elevator. From there, things only went up for the Ducks.
Royce Freeman rushed for 163 yards and scored twice, third-string quarterback Taylor Alie tossed a clinching touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Oregon beat Colorado 41-24 on a soggy Saturday night.
Taj Griffin finished with 110 yards rushing and a score, while receiver Bralon Addison threw a TD pass on a trick play to help the Ducks (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) rebound from an unsettling 62-20 home loss to Utah last weekend.
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”Last week, it didn’t feel like the Oregon team,” Alie said. ”This week, we pulled together and played like Oregon.”
It was Oregon’s fifth straight win over Colorado (3-2, 0-1) since the Buffaloes joined the conference in 2011 – and by far the closest. The Ducks won the previous four meetings by an average of 43.5 points. They entered this game just a touchdown favorite.
”The gap closed a lot,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. ”We had an opportunity to win the football game in the fourth quarter. The game’s been over at halftime the last two years. I think that’s a good jump. It’s not anywhere where we want to be, but it shows we’re making progress.”
The game was delayed for more than an hour because of lightning in the area. At 9:08 p.m. MT, it was the latest kickoff in Folsom Field history and finished at 12:31 a.m.
There was a moment of silence before kickoff for the people who died in the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, which is about 70 miles from Eugene. The Ducks and Buffaloes both wore a sticker on their helmets to honor the victims.
”They were fantastic about that,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. ”Obviously, our hearts and minds are there as well.”
Oregon’s beleaguered defense forced three turnovers and sacked Sefo Liufau five times. Liufau was playing with a bruised right shoulder.
Jeff Lockie started at quarterback for the Ducks with Vernon Adams Jr. bothered by a broken right index finger. Lockie struggled early and Alie stepped in. Lockie and Alie split time in the second half.
Alie finished 4 of 9 for 83 yards, while Lockie was 8 of 11 with an interception.
But Addison threw one of the best spirals of the night, taking a handoff from Freeman and tossing a 39-yard TD strike to fellow wideout Charles Nelson on a razzle-dazzle play.
Addison had the composure of a QB, too, which he played in high school.
”I wanted to look the safety off and give Charles time to let it develop,” Addison explained. ”Lay it out there for him and he was going to do the rest.”
Freeman scored on a 3-yard run early in the third quarter and Griffin added another TD moments later to give the Ducks a 14-point lead.
But then Oregon gave Colorado a glimmer of hope, failing to convert on a fourth-and-1 at its own 46. Colorado took over in good field position and Liufau scored on a keeper to slice into the lead.
Oregon answered right back when Alie hit Jalen Brown for a 43-yard TD.
This day didn’t start all that well for the Ducks as about 14 players got stuck in an elevator at the team hotel. Several tweeted out photos with fire men who came to the rescue.
”We’re so used to our elevator that can hold all of us and when I saw everyone get into the first elevator I said, `Yeah, that’s gonna get stuck,”’ cornerback Glen Ihenacho said. ”I was happy with my decision to wait for the next elevator.”
Colorado got off to a rocky start with two early drives resulting in a Liufau interception – his first since the season opener – and a fumble by Phillip Lindsay. The Buffaloes finally got things turned around, scoring on three straight drives at one point and went into the locker room tied at 17.
It was a feat in itself considering that entering this game, the Buffaloes were outscored 164-19 by the Ducks in the opening half since 2011.
AP college football site: www.collegefootball.ap.org