Skipping turkey, top-ranked team rallies in second half
EUGENE, Ore. — Now the Ducks can have their turkey.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly said earlier this week he didn’t want his top-ranked team to partake in the traditional Thanksgiving meal because it might make them lethargic against No. 20 Arizona.
The Ducks were anything but sedentary Friday night with a 48-29 victory over the Wildcats. Oregon earned at least a share of its second consecutive Pac-10 title and stayed on course for a trip to the BCS national title game.
Darron Thomas passed for 148 yards and three scores and ran for another, while running back LaMichael James ran for 126 yards and two scores for the Ducks (11-0, 8-0 Pac-10), who trailed 19-14 at halftime.
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“Yeah, we finally get to eat turkey,” said Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris.
The Ducks have won 11 games in a season only once before, when Joey Harrington led them to 2001 Fiesta Bowl.
The Ducks can lock up an outright conference title and a spot in the national title game in Glendale, Ariz., next week with a victory at Oregon State.
It was the third consecutive defeat for Arizona (7-4, 4-4), which ultimately couldn’t keep up with the Ducks’ speedy spread-option.
“They’ve been a second-half team all along,” Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. “You can slow them down but you can’t stop them.”
With temperatures in the mid-40s and periodic rain showers, there were concerns the Wildcats would have trouble with their passing game, which had been averaging about 300 yards a game.
But Nick Foles passed for a career-high 448 yards and three touchdowns, including an 85-yard score to Juron Criner. It just wasn’t enough.
Thomas completed 14 of 24 passes for 148 yards and an interception. Oregon finished with 537 yards total offense. Arizona put up 506.
Oregon was playing catch-up the entire first half and trailed for just the second time this season at the break. But the Ducks bounced back early in the second half with Josh Huff’s 85-yard scoring run, the longest play from scrimmage for the Ducks this season. While the conversion failed, Oregon had a 20-19 lead.
Arizona hurt itself on Oregon’s next series, when the Wildcats were called offside on Rob Beard’s missed 42-yard field-goal attempt. That gave the Ducks a first down and Thomas followed with a 20-yard TD run to make it 27-19.
The Wildcats cut the lead on Alex Zendejas’ 41-yard field goal, but James ran for a pair of scores, one for 13 yards and another for a yard.
James has 19 rushing touchdowns this season, surpassing LeGarrette Blount’s record of 17 set in 2008.
James went down late in the first half after he was hit by Arizona safety Adam Hall. While he was helped off the field, he stayed on the sideline until the break, then earned rousing applause when he returned from halftime hopping across the field with his helmet on.
James said Hall hit him helmet-to-helmet, even though it didn’t appear so on the replay, and his right eye swelled up so that he couldn’t see well.
And even if he was injured, James said, it wouldn’t matter.
“You’d never know if I’m injured or not,” he said. “I’ll give 110 percent every game.”
Ari — Criner 8 pass from Foles (Zendejas kick), 4:47.
Ore — Paulson 38 pass from Thomas (Beard kick), 3:12.
Ari — Criner 85 pass from Foles (Zendejas kick), 2:51.
Ore — Maehl 6 pass from Thomas (Beard kick), 14:04.
Ari — Safety, 9:56.
Ari — FG Zendejas 29, :04.
Ore — Huff 85 run (pass failed), 13:30.
Ore — Thomas 20 run (Beard kick), 4:44.
Ari — FG Zendejas 41, 2:46.
Ore — D.Davis 6 pass from Thomas (Beard kick), :36.
Ore — James 13 run (Beard kick), 12:46.
Ore — James 1 run (Beard kick), 12:15.
Ari — Roberts 32 pass from Foles (Zendejas kick), 10:45.
A — 59,990.
|Time of Possession||29:27||30:33|
Rushing — Arizona, Grigsby 16-44, Antolin 8-17, Foles 3-(- 3). Oregon, James 28-126, Huff 3-103, Barner 15-71, Thomas 6-62, Alston 4-44, Team 1-(- 17).
Passing — Arizona, Foles 29-54-1-448. Oregon, Thomas 14-24-1-148.
Receiving — Arizona, Miller 8-96, Douglas 5-81, Roberts 5-64, Grigsby 4-39, Criner 3-109, Cobb 2-46, Antolin 1-8, Nwoko 1-5. Oregon, Paulson 3-48, D.Davis 3-31, James 3-20, Maehl 2-27, Huff 2-18, Hoffman 1-4.