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Oregon Ducks back on track, now shift focus to Pac-12 championship game

Statesman Journal (Salem) logo Statesman Journal (Salem) 12/1/2019 Pete Martini, Salem Statesman Journal

EUGENE — Oregon did just enough Saturday to beat rival Oregon State in the Civil War, and now the Ducks turn their focus to the Pac-12 championship game.

Mykael Wright had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Cyrus Habibi-Likio scored on a 20-yard touchdown run late to put the game out of reach, as the No. 14 Ducks topped the Beavers 24-10 in the Civil War on a cold day at Autzen Stadium.

“The defense played outstanding, the special teams were big. We didn’t finish some drives. Did some good things, but other things obviously were not so good,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “But in rivalry games, and games like this, you find a way to win and you make sure you continue moving forward, and our guys are really excited about the fact that they’ve earned an opportunity to play an extra week.”

a group of people standing next to a football ball: Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks safety Brady Breeze (25) celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble during the second half agains the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. The Oregon Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports © Troy Wayrynen, Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks safety Brady Breeze (25) celebrates with teammates after recovering a fumble during the second half agains the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. The Oregon Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks finish the regular season with a 10-2 overall record, including 8-1 in the Pac-12.

Ducks next play for the Pac-12 title

Oregon clinched the Pac-12 North Division after beating Arizona on Nov. 16, and the Ducks will face Utah at 5 p.m. Friday in the conference championship game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Oregon is trying to win the Pac-12 title for the first time since Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota’s final season with the Ducks in 2014.

“That’s your goal when you go to a place. If a place is sustaining excellence, you want to keep it there,” Cristobal said. “And if a place took a hit after having so many great years, you want to be part of that group that gets it turned back around. We still have business and work to do.”

The College Football Playoff was taken off the table last week when the Ducks lost at Arizona State. But they still can win the Pac-12 championship and play in a Rose Bowl.

Mario Cristobal standing next to a dog: Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal congratulates quarterback Justin Herbert (10) after a game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. The Oregon Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports © Troy Wayrynen, Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal congratulates quarterback Justin Herbert (10) after a game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. The Oregon Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon seniors win final home game

The Ducks’ senior class, who have been through so much during their time at Oregon, went out with an undefeated home schedule at 7-0.

The seniors, including team leaders quarterback Justin Herbert and linebacker Troy Dye, began their playing careers with a 4-8 record in 2016, during head coach Mark Helfrich’s last season at Oregon.

They then went through the short tenure of coach Willie Taggart, who left the Ducks before the end of his first season, then played two seasons under Cristobal as head coach.

“For these seniors, for this team to close out Autzen Stadium in an undefeated manner in our home games is a really big accomplishment for them,” Cristobal said. “I don’t think we ever lost control of the game, but certainly got tighter than we felt we could have made it. But I don’t think you take away credit from the other team. You always respect football and give the other team credit.”

After the game, Dye was emotional when reflecting on his time at Oregon. 

“Grateful to be here, grateful to play with all these guys. I’m happy we came out with the win,” Dye told the Pac-12 Network on the field in a postgame interview. “It’s been a fun four years. It’s been fun. I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I would do it all over again, the same way, same exact people because I’ve made a lot of great relationships, I met a lot of cool people.”

Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback Tristan Gebbia (3) throws a pass during the second half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. The Oregon Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports © Troy Wayrynen, Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback Tristan Gebbia (3) throws a pass during the second half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. The Oregon Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Tough finish for the Beavers

It’s a tough loss for Oregon State, which kept the game close despite not having starting quarterback Jake Luton, who was injured last week at Washington State.

Tristan Gebbia started in Luton’s place and threw for 243 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I’m proud of this group. I told them in the locker room after that I appreciate the resiliency and the battle of this team to compete in this game and throughout the season,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. “I thought we had opportunities to respond in this game but didn’t quite get over the hump. That’s a good football team over there. They do a good job.”

When Luton didn’t start, “it was a little bit of a surprise” to Oregon, Cristobal said.

“Does it change some things? It changes some things, but you can’t just overhaul everything that you’ve done all week,” Cristobal said. “(Defensive coordinator Andy) Avalos and his staff had a pretty good feel for what they were going to do, and went with the game plan.”

Despite the change at quarterback, the Beavers outgained the Ducks, 380-365.

Oregon State finished the season 5-7 overall and 4-5 in the conference.

The Beavers were 5-5 through 10 games and had a chance to become bowl eligible at the end of the season. But Oregon State lost at Washington State and Oregon to finish the season.

Despite the disappointing finish for the Beavers, this was a turnaround season in Corvallis.

Oregon State had gone 3-21 combined the past two seasons, before finishing with five wins in Jonathan Smith’s second season as head coach.

a group of men playing a game of football: Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers defensive back Jaydon Grant (3) strips Oregon Ducks wide receiver Bryan Addison (80) from the ball during the second half at Autzen Stadium. The Oregon Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports © Troy Wayrynen, Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers defensive back Jaydon Grant (3) strips Oregon Ducks wide receiver Bryan Addison (80) from the ball during the second half at Autzen Stadium. The Oregon Ducks beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Ducks have offensive issues

For the Ducks, they will need to figure out their offensive woes quickly before the Pac-12 championship game.

Herbert passed for just 174 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions against Oregon State.

The Ducks’ running game was effective Saturday, with 191 yards on 37 carries, but Oregon had two drives in which it didn’t score points despite reaching the red zone — a missed 24-yard field goal by Camden Lewis, and a fumble out of the end zone by receiver Jaylon Redd.

These mistakes did cost the Ducks the game against the Beavers, but that could be different in the conference title game.

“I felt like we were moving the ball well, but really stalled. We stalled a couple times,” Cristobal said. “It starts No. 1 with making sure we give ourselves our best chance with the right plan for the entire week. It’s a short week, so it’s a little bit different. We’ve had good success on both bye weeks and short weeks. We feel that we have a really good plan. It’ll be round-the-clock work, like it needs to be.”

Cristobal is excited for the Pac-12 championship game.

“This is what you do it for, right, to have this kind of opportunity? And you know what, they earned this opportunity,” Cristobal added. “Had to do a lot of things, play a lot of good football teams to get to this point in time, and now it’s here.”

In-game updates

DUCKS WIN CIVIL WAR

Oregon beats Oregon State to improve to 10-2 this season. The Beavers fall to 5-7.

DUCKS SCORE

Cyrus Habibi-Likio scores on a 20-yard touchdown run to give the Ducks a 24-10 lead, with 1:15 left in the game.

BEAVERS TURN IT OVER

Jermar Jefferson fumbles it, and Brady Breeze recovers for Oregon. Ducks have the ball, up 17-10, with 2:07 left in the game. 

DUCKS TURN IT OVER

Oregon's Jaylon Redd fumbled the ball out of the side of the end zone, turnover, touchback, Oregon State has the ball. Oregon leads 17-10.

BEAVERS SCORE

Oregon State's Jermar Jefferson scores on a 19-yard touchdown run to cut Oregon's lead to 17-10, with 11:03 left in the game.

DUCKS MISS FG

Camden Lewis misses a 24-yard field goal attempt. The Ducks still lead 17-3, with 6:11 left in the third quarter.

DUCKS LEAD IN THIRD

Oregon leads Oregon State 17-3, with under 10 minutes left in the third quarter. 

QB STATS

Oregon QB Justin Herbert is 8/17 for 82 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Oregon State QB Tristan Gebbia is 10/16 for 95 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions.

DUCKS LEAD AT HALFTIME

Oregon leads Oregon State 17-3 at halftime.

DUCKS ADD TO LEAD

Justin Herbert throws a 28-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Johnson III to give the Ducks a 17-3 lead, with 12:55 left in the second quarter.

END OF FIRST

The Ducks lead 10-3 after the first quarter.

DUCKS BACK ON TOP

Mykael Wright runs a kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown to give the Ducks a 10-3 lead, with 2:47 left in the first quarter.

OSU TIES IT

Oregon State kicker Everett Hayes kicks a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3, with 3:00 left in the first quarter.

QUITORIANO

Sprague graduate Teagan Quitoriano catches a 19-yard pass for a first down for the Beavers.

a group of football players on a field: Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. © Troy Wayrynen / USA TODAY Sports Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium.

DUCKS TAKE LEAD

Oregon takes a 3-0 lead on Camden Lewis' 32-yard field goal, with 8:26 left in the first quarter.

NO LUTON

Reports are that Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton is not starting today. He injured his arm last week at Washington State, and apparently it got worse throughout the week. Tristan Gebbia will start for the Beavers in his place.

STARTING LINEUP

Nice ovations for both senior quarterback Justin Herbert and senior linebacker Troy Dye. Both have been strong leaders on the Ducks the past four seasons during a tumultuous time for the program, which including two changes at head coach.

a man standing in front of a crowd of people in a field: Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) listens to head coach Mario Cristobal during senior day introductions before a game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports © Troy Wayrynen, Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports Nov 30, 2019; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) listens to head coach Mario Cristobal during senior day introductions before a game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

LAST HOME GAME FOR HERBERT

Today's game is the last at Autzen Stadium for Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert, who has been the Ducks' starter since his freshman year. 

CIVIL WAR DAY

No. 14 Oregon hosts rival Oregon State at 1 p.m. today at Autzen Stadium in the annual Civil War game.

An Oregon Ducks fan enjoys pre-game activities before a game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium. © Troy Wayrynen / USA TODAY Sports An Oregon Ducks fan enjoys pre-game activities before a game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium.

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Oregon Ducks back on track, now shift focus to Pac-12 championship game

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