( GAME RECAP ) HERBERT WASN’T PERFECT BUT LEADS THE DUCKS TO A 17-7 WIN OVER CAL – Ducks Push their Conference Record to 2-0 but Lose Cumberlander and Verdell in the Process
Eugene, OR. – ( Autzen Stadium )
This game certainly didn’t go as advertised, but Oregon ( 4-1 / 2-0 ) outlasted a very talented California team to get a 17-7 win in front of 54,766 fans at Autzen Stadium. The Bears took a 7-0 lead into the half, however the Ducks would score 17 unanswered points in the final two quarters to seal the win and remain undefeated in conference play. The Ducks were able to find the endzone twice – once on a 1 yard rushing score by Cyrus Habibi-Likio and the second on a 1 yard pass play from Justin Herber to Jaylon Redd.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The start to this game certainly wasn’t in the game plan for No. 13 Oregon.
The Ducks moved the football with ease against Cal in the first 30 minutes of the game however they turned the ball over three times taking at least two certain scoring opportunities off the board.
After the Duck defense held the Bears on their first possession of the game, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert navigated a solid and efficient drive down the field into Cal territory. The opening drive was highlighted by the Ducks rushing attack which blasted holes through the Bears defensive front.
After a 19 yard run by Travis Dye to the Cal 16 yard line, the bottom fell out for Herbert who threw his first interception of the season on the very next play. Bear safety Ashton Davis stepped in front of an Oregon receiver making a shallow cross and grabbed Herberts pass at the Cal 5 yard line stopping a certain score. Davis returned the ball to the Cal 37 yard line at the 9:12 mark.
It was the first time Herbert threw an interception in 176 attempts.
Less than a minute later Bear backup QB Devon Modster connected with receiver Jordan Duncan for a 36 yard completion to the Oregon 27 yard line putting the Bears in prime position to find the end zone.
And they did.
With 6:58 left in the 1st quarter, Modster broke away from the onslaught of the Oregon defensive front and tossed a 22 yard scoring strike to running back Christopher Brown to give the Bears an early 7-0 lead which they would take into the halftime break.
The Ducks would go back on offense and again proved they could move the ball with ease.
However, with :26 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, Travis Dye coughed up the first of his two fumbles at the Cal 9 yard line when it appeared the Ducks would score.
The Ducks defense would once again hold forcing the Bears to punt at the 13:34 mark of the 2nd quarter.
The turnover bug would strike once more to the Oregon offense.
After the Oregon offense crossed midfield once again and while on the move, Dye was stripped at the Cal 37 yard line giving Cal the ball and also giving the Ducks their third turnover of the game.
After another successful defensive stand by the Ducks, they were able to get the ball back with less than 5 minutes to play in the 2nd.
Herbert would find receiver Brenden Schooler for a 22 yard gain into Cal territory again. The Ducks drive would stall forcing a 45 yard field goal attempt which placekicker Camden Lewis missed left.
For the first time this season, Oregon would head into the halftime break scoreless and behind 7-0.
In the third quarter, Oregon would take the opening kickoff but failed to do anything with it and was forced to punt to the Bears.
After trading possessions, the Ducks and Herbert would once again drive the length of the field on a 13 play drive. That drive stalled however from the Cal 11 yard line when Herbert couldn’t connect with TE Jacob Breeland in the endzone. The Ducks would finally get on the scoreboard on the following play when Camden Lewis finally made a field goal from 28 yards closing the gap to 7-3 with 7:32 to play in the 3rd.
Less than a minute later the Oregon defense came up big and forced another Cal punt from inside the Bear 5 yard line. With 6:36 remaining in the 3rd, the Ducks returned the Cal punt to their own 45 yard line giving them good field position which the Ducks took advantage of.
With 1:50 to play in the 3rd, Herbert connected with Breeland for a 29 yard gain to the Cal 1 yard line. On the following play, Cyrus Habibi-Likio gave the Ducks their first lead of the game with a 1 yard plunge into the endzone.
Oregon would take a 10-7 lead with 1:38 remaining in the 3rd.
Then after significant pressure by the Ducks defense they forced Cal into their first turnover of the game. With 9:20 remaining in the contest, Modster threw a pass over the middle which was tipped by and Oregon defender and grabbed out of the air by linebacker Troy Dye. Dye would return the interception to the Cal 49 yard line.
The pick was Dye’s first of the season and 7th of the year for the Ducks defense.
Five plays later Oregon would once again find the endzone on a 1 yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Jaylon Redd extending the Ducks lead to 17-7 with 7:14 to play. The scoring pass extended Herbert’s streak to 33 consecutive games of throwing a touchdown pass. It was also Redd’s fourth scoring catch of the season.
The Bears would get close one additional time, however the Oregon defense held at the Duck 29 yard line forcing the Bears to attempt a 46 yard field goal which they missed wide right.
Oregon would go on to win 17-7 pushing their record to 4-1 and conference record to 2-0.
While the Ducks pushed their Pac-12 record to 2-0, the 17-7 win over the Bears was costly.
In the first half of the game the Ducks lost running back C.J Verdell to what appeared to be an ankle injury. Verdell would later appear on the sideline wearing a walking boot. In his post game briefing, head coach Mario Cristobal said the X-ray’s on Verdell were negative which leads him to believe it wasn’t as serious as originally thought.
Then in the 4th quarter the Ducks defense lost defensive lineman Gus Cumberlander with what appeared to be a serious left knee injury. Cumberlander was taken from the field on a cart and never returned.
It was definitely an uncharacteristic game for the Ducks. Oregon turned the ball over three times – twice by fumble and the third with Justin Herbert’s first interception of the season. In all three turnovers, the Ducks were driving from inside California territory and most certainly would have scored in each possession. Running back Travis Dye had two back to back fumbles, however ended the game with 15 carries for 81 yards to lead the Ducks.
For the first time since 1960, the Oregon defense has held four consecutive opponents to 7 or less points.
Next Friday, October 11th, the Ducks will host Colorado in a nationally televised game on Fox Sports 1. The kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm PST.