Rushing Attack Fuels Win Over WSU

EUGENE, Ore. — Bo Nix threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and Bucky Irving scored twice on the ground and once on a reception as the No. 9 Oregon football team got back on track with a 38-24 win Saturday over Washington State before a sellout homecoming crowd of 58,886 in Autzen Stadium.

Coming off their first loss of the season, the Ducks (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) started slow Saturday but got going in the second quarter behind a dominant rushing performance. Irving ran for 129 yards and Jordan James added another 103 rushing yards as the balanced UO offense threw for 293 yards and ran for 248.

“It feels great,” UO center Jackson Powers-Johnson said. “Our huge thing this week was just to go 1-0, and that’s the biggest thing we’re looking at.”

A year after the Ducks needed a dramatic comeback to win at WSU, Cameron Ward again proved tough to wrangle for the UO defense. He used his mobility to keep plays alive and ended up throwing for 438 yards, though with only touchdown — which came with 52 seconds left and Oregon up 38-16.

“(The Ducks) came out and they took a team’s best punch,” UO coach Dan Lanning said. “Washington State played really hard today too, and they had some big moments within that game. And our guys never got rattled. They stay focused in the moment and that’s really what playing great football is about.”

Oregon accounted for 14 plays of 15 yards or longer. Early on the Ducks didn’t capitalize, and the score was 3-3 after one quarter. But Irving and Nix each had short rushing touchdowns to cap long TD drives fueled by the rushing attack, as Oregon ran for 129 yards in the second quarter.

“That was huge,” Nix said. “I mean, we pretty much just ran the ball, and that’s pretty much all we did in the second quarter. And obviously it got the scoring going, and that was good for us.”

Irving had a 42-yard scoring reception on a swing pass and an explosive 43-yard TD run later in the third quarter thanks to a jump cut to separate from a defender. Tez Johnson added a scoring reception in the fourth as Oregon extended its cushion.

“I think we do a good job of, we’re balanced as a team,” Johnson said. “We’ve got so many weapons at receiver, but we also have Bucky as a running back, and there’s no telling what he’ll do with the ball.”

Despite needing help off the field following a rush in the fourth quarter, Irving returned to the field as the Ducks took a knee to run out the clock in the final minute.

Safety Evan Williams led the UO defense with 14 tackles, as the Ducks contained WSU despite Ward’s elusive playmaking. Jeffrey Bassa added eight tackles and linebacker Jestin Jacobs made his UO debut with six tackles, including one of Oregon’s six sacks.

“We knew they were gonna make plays —  they’ve got some explosive playmakers on their team,” Williams said. “But something we preached was, just keep our composure through those plays.

“We knew they’re gonna get one here and there, and that’s just football. But it’s how you respond after those moments. And yeah, I think we did a good job of just bearing down after those big plays and holding them to field goals or getting off the field.”

The Ducks’ freshman pass rushers continued to be impact players, with Matayo Uiagalelei and Blake Purchase each recording a sack.