Ducks stun No. 12 Utes on last-second TD
Ducks stun No. 12 Utes on last-second TD
- Ducks stun No. 12 Utes on last-second TD
Published On: Sat, Nov 19
Sep 26, 2015; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Taj Griffin (5) runs the ball as Utah Utes defensive back Cory Butler-Byrd (16) and Utah Utes defensive tackle Viliseni Fauonuku (98) at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
SALT LAKE CITY -- Oregon turned the tables on Utah from a season ago. The Ducks embraced the role of a spoiler and flew away with the Utes' Pac-12 South title hopes.
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When Darren Carrington hauled in a 17-yard game-winning touchdown catch from Justin Herbert with two seconds remaining, a ray of sunshine finally broke through in a season filled with storm clouds for Oregon.
The Ducks edged No. 12 Utah for a 30-28 upset victory on Saturday and the result offered a glimpse of hope for what lies ahead next season and beyond.
"I just can't say enough for how those guys have stuck together throughout this season and again today," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "There's a bunch of times where it could have been 'Here we go again' in a heartbeat."
Herbert threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Ducks (3-8, 2-6 Pac-12) to just their second win in their last nine games. Royce Freeman added 129 yards on 20 carries for Oregon.
Oregon came through on both sides of the ball as the second half progressed. It paid off in helping the Ducks rally from a 14-3 deficit.
Offensively, the Ducks scored touchdowns on four of their final drives. They converted 7-of-10 third downs in the second half, with two coming on the final drive alone.
Defensively, Oregon forced four straight punts, including three consecutive three-and-outs over the third and fourth quarter to keep Utah from turning it into a blowout like so many other teams had this season.
It meant a big deal to a defense that ranked 120th or worse in the nation in several defensive categories coming into the game.
"When we got those consecutive stops, we got a lot of juice going and a lot of flow going," freshman linebacker Troy Dye said. "We tried to tell ourselves, 'We can really do this. We're a really good defense. We just have to do our thing, do the right gaps and hit everything right.' It showed on the field and we came out with the (win)."
Troy Williams threw for 235 yards and a touchdown to lead the Utes. Joe Williams added 149 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Troy Williams connected with Evan Moeai on a 30-yard play action touchdown pass with 2:18 remaining to give Utah a 28-24 lead before Herbert led Oregon's game-winning TD drive.
Utah (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) gave up 575 total yards to the Oregon offense. The Utes totaled 453 yards on the other side of the ball, but could not finish off enough drives when it counted.
"We lost a chance to win the South and that's really the next step for our program," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
Utah struggled to move the ball consistently against one of the Pac-12's worst defenses. The Utes took a 14-3 lead early in the third quarter behind a 12-yard run from Joe Williams. Oregon came roaring back with strong play on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, the Ducks held Utah to just four yards on their final nine plays of the third quarter. On the other side of the ball, Oregon put together back-to-back touchdown drives.
A 45-yard punt return by Dillon Mitchell set up a 29-yard catch by Jalen Brown that cut Utah's lead to four before the end of the third quarter. Then, Royce Freeman hauled in a 1-yard catch along the goal line to put the Ducks up 17-14 with 10:37 remaining.
Utah charged back in front when Mitchell touched the ball on a punt return and let it bounce into the end zone. Chase Hansen scooped up the muffed punt to put Utah ahead 21-17 with 9:43 left.
Oregon wasted no time answering. Herbert put the Ducks back ahead 24-21 on a 1-yard run with 6:41 remaining.
"It just shows when we play great, what we can do as a whole team in general," receiver Charles Nelson said. "It gives us more hope for next year. This season obviously didn't go the way we wanted it to, but we'll bounce back and be better next year."
After stopping Oregon on fourth down, Utah marched down the field on its opening drive and took a 7-0 lead on a 24-yard reverse from Cory Butler-Byrd. Oregon cut into the lead with a 47-yard field goal from Aidan Schneider.
Utah had a great chance to add to its lead after Harrison Handley took a short pass 29 yards to the Ducks' 15-yard line. But Jimmie Swain stripped the ball from Troy Williams at the Oregon 11 on the next play and Wayne Tei-Kirby pounced on it to end the Utes' drive.
Oregon failed to capitalize on the turnover. A targeting penalty by Nelson wiped out a first down run by Justin Herbert, forcing Schneider to attempt a 31 yard field goal. The junior kicker missed wide right to keep the score at 7-3.
"We had 250 yards of offense in the first half, but didn't finish drives and didn't score enough in the first half," Whittingham said. "The second half, we didn't make enough plays. That was the difference in the game, they made a play at the end."
NOTES: DE Hunter Dimick became Utah's new career sack leader with a pair of sacks in the first quarter. Dimick now has 29 career sacks. 14 of those sacks have come in 2016. ... Oregon is the first team to hold Utah scoreless during the second quarter this season. ... RB Joe Williams eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the season on his first run of the third quarter. He has totaled 1,088 yards this season. ... LB Troy Dye is one of just four true freshman nationwide to lead his team in tackles. Dye has tallied 83 tackles for Oregon through 11 games and finished with nine against Utah.
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