Game Story by Justin Grossweiner
In the Covid shortened 2020 PAC-12 season the #11 Oregon Ducks were pushed to the brink, as they defeated the UCLA Bruins 38 to 35 in a sloppy game both offensively and defensively for the home team in an empty Autzen Stadium. Oregon’s defense allowed 462 yards of offense but made just enough plays with 4 forced turnovers to scrape out a victory against the unranked Bruins. Coming into the game UCLA was forced to play without their star Quarterback Dorian Thomas-Robinson and to start true Freshman Chase Griffin due to an COVID-19 precautions for the starting quarterback. However, the star of the game for the Bruins was running back Demetric Felton who gained 167 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. UCLA’s offense was moving the ball consistently all day, but was hampered by 4 forced turnovers by the Oregon defense. The turnovers for the Bruins started in the middle of the first quarter for the Bruins when Noah Sewell forced a fumble on Chase Griffin. On the first play after the Ducks took over possession the Bruins jumped off sides, and Shough threw a 32 yard dime to Devon Williams in the corner of the end zone to give Oregon a 7-0 lead. The Bruins also fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and yet again on the first play after taking over Shough capitalized with a 32 yard strike to Travis Dye giving Oregon 14 points in 16 seconds on the game clock. But the biggest play of the day was the 58 yard pick-6 by Jordan Happle as time expired in the first half which gave the Ducks a 24-21 halftime lead. It looked as if the Bruins would go into halftime with control of the game, but pressure by the defensive line forced an errant throw which was picked off by the transfer from Boise State who proceeded to take it the distance for the score. Although the Bruins continued to fight until the end, getting a chance with the ball in the games final minutes down 3 to tie up the game or take the lead, Happle’s touchdown gave the Ducks a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Happle also led the team with 11 total tackles in the ballgame. Safety Verone McKinley missed the first half with a suspension for a targeting penalty from the previous game against Washington State, but he contributed a critical interception late in the 3rd quarter on 4th down with UCLA trailing by 3.
On the offensive side of the ball the Ducks’ normally explosive run game was stuffed by UCLA, as Oregon only rushed for 88 yards on 34 attempts. Star running back C.J. Verdell was bottled up all game and even had a fumble in the first quarter which was returned for a touchdown by UCLA’s Qwuantrezz Knight to tie the game at the time. With the ground game struggles, the passing game was propelled by Quarterback Tyler Shough and wide receiver Devon Williams, the transfer from USC. The air attack amounted to 334 yards with the 6’5” Williams gaining 123 of those yards by himself in his first 100 plus yard performance as a Duck. The tight ends were heavily involved as well with Hunter Kampmoyer and D.J. Johnson combining for 120 yards receiving, the former with his first touchdown on the season after returning from injury.
Believe it or not the season is halfway over for the Ducks who start off 3-0 but are looking to deliver more convincing performances to give themselves a shot at a hopeful College Football Playoff birth. Next week Oregon travels up to Corvallis with an always heated battle with the Oregon State Beavers coming off of a 31-27 victory against the California Golden Bears. The Ducks will be looking to clean up the mistakes that made this game a closer one than might have been predicted going into the ballgame.
STORY: 4 Turnovers and Jordan Happle’s Pick-6 Edge Ducks to Victory
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