Washington commits too many miscues against Oregon
EUGENE, Ore. — The game ended quickly.
The streak, meanwhile, lives on, Oregon having now beaten the Huskies nine times in a row after a 52-21 victory over Washington here Saturday night in front of 58,792 at Autzen Stadium.
And this one might have been as frustrating as any for the Huskies, who knew they would need to play pretty close to flawlessly to have a chance against the No. 2-rated Ducks, especially here.
Washington, though, unraveled early in a hail of miscues with a fumbled punt and an interception return for a touchdown allowing Oregon to break out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead.
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A fumble in the second quarter by quarterback Keith Price stopped another UW drive and led to another Oregon touchdown and a 35-7 halftime deficit. And yet another fumble in the fourth quarter led to another short Oregon scoring drive. Washington finished with five turnovers — two interceptions and three fumbles.
“We didn’t make it hard on them,” said UW cornerback Desmond Trufant. “We made it easy for them and you can’t do that with a good team.”
UW coach Steve Sarkisian also lamented the early turnovers as well as two busted coverages that led to an Oregon touchdown, and some dropped passes on offense.
“That part is so frustrating to me and our kids because we really felt like we could come in and play with them,” Sarkisian said. “And we felt like we had a good plan offensively. We had a hard time tackling the quarterback (Oregon’s Marcus Mariota) when he got out of the pocket and that made things difficult for us. But it was just frustrating because I don’t think the score is indicative of their football team compared to ours and that part is really frustrating to me.”
And when it was mercifully over, the Huskies had fallen to 3-2, each of the defeats blowouts on the road against top 10 teams (the other a 41-3 setback against Louisiana State in the second game of the season).
Sarkisian, though, thought there were a lot more positives in this one, such as Bishop Sankey’s third consecutive 100-yard rushing game (104) and 208 yards rushing overall.
“Unfortunately, with the turnovers, the score got to a point where it got out of hand,” he said. “But I thought we had a good plan running the ball and I thought we were effective doing it tonight.”
UW is 1-1 in Pac-12 play and would need the unlikely prospect of two Oregon defeats to win the North Division. And the Huskies don’t have much time to worry about this one with USC coming to Seattle next Saturday.
Buoyed by a victory last week against Stanford, Washington entered the night ranked No. 23 by The Associated Press, the third time UW has been ranked during Sarkisian’s four years as coach.
Each time, UW has followed up the rating with a big defeat on the road, the previous two coming at Stanford in 2009 and 2011. And like those times, UW is likely to fall out of the polls this week.
While the turnovers were critical, Oregon also simply did what it always does offensively, and did it well. The Ducks had 319 yards in the first half — almost an equal split of 159 rushing and 160 passing. That included three touchdown passes by redshirt freshman quarterback Mariota, who finished with four.
UW has not beaten Oregon since a 42-10 victory over the Ducks in 2003 in Seattle. Each of the nine defeats since then have come by 17 or more points.
The Huskies had hoped that a 17-13 victory over then-No. 8-rated Stanford last week showed it was beginning to close the gap on the elite teams in the Pac-12. But the gap looks as big as ever when it comes to the Ducks, who at the moment stand as the class of the Pac-12.
UW’s defense, so impressive in the triumph over Stanford, came out showing the same kind of fire, getting an interception on Oregon’s first drive and forcing a punt on the second.
But then the first-half turnover parade began as true freshman Marvin Hall let a punt go through his hands and Oregon recovered at the UW 20.
The Ducks needed just two plays to convert, De’Anthony Thomas scoring on a 16-yard run up the middle.
After a dropped pass helped kill UW’s next drive, Oregon drove for another quick score to go up 14-0, this one on a 21-yard pass from Mariota to Keanon Lowe, a Portland native and one-time UW commit.
It quickly went from bad to worse as Price, after one UW first down, was picked off on an out route by Oregon’s Avery Patterson, who returned it 43 yards for a TD to make it 21-0 with 2:07 left in the first quarter.
Price called the play simply a bad read and said he feels as if he is pressing too much — he threw another interception later and also lost a fumble, going just 19-for-31 passing for 145 yards without a touchdown.
“Tonight, there were a couple of plays where I was undisciplined in my rules and it cost the team,” Price said.
Washington, which had some success running the ball throughout, used a few good gains by Sankey to move into Oregon territory, setting up a 1-yard score by Sankey with 13:58 to play in the first half to make it 21-7.
But any thoughts of a comeback evaporated almost immediately as the Ducks moved 76 yards in 10 plays to take a 28-7 lead, the score coming on a 10-yard pass from Mariota to Colt Lyerla.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org