Ducks overcome re-shuffled O-line as Hanson sits out
EUGENE — There wasn’t any mention of fancy raincoats, a yellow laundry list of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties or one side trying to run the score up on the other during this Civil War.
No. 14 Oregon defeated Oregon State 24-10 on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
And then Mario Cristobal and Jonathan Smith shook hands.
“I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for him and everyone around the conference,” Cristobal said of his counterpart. “I was raised a certain way, and when you compete against someone and you lay it all on the line, you expect them to do the same.
“It’s all about respect. Respect. Respect. Respect.”
The Ducks (10-2, 8-1) embarrassed the Beavers (5-7, 4-5) during a 69-10 win in Willie Taggart’s final game in 2017 and dominated 55-15 last season in Corvallis.
Smith is clearly making Oregon State competitive again.
The visitors were within one score until a fourth-quarter fumble set up Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s 20-yard touchdown run with 1:15 remaining.
“That’s a good football team over there. They do a good job,” Smith said. “I thought, especially on the defensive side, the guys did a great job with their physicality and kept us in the game throughout. Special teams play was a huge difference, but anytime you score 10 points in this league, you’re not going to win many football games.
“I do credit this senior group for what they’ve done for the program.”
Johnny Johnson was the bright spot for the Ducks during the 31-28 loss at Arizona State. The junior had 10 receptions for 207 yards and two touchdowns in the defeat, which knocked Oregon out of College Football Playoff contention.
Oregon State’s defense, which entered the Civil War ranked 108th in points allowed (33.3 per game) and 110th in yards allowed (453.0 per game), held Justin Herbert to 174 passing yards and one touchdown.
Johnson had four receptions for a team-high 34 yards receiving, including a 28-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.
“My confidence level is very high, it’s the highest it’s ever been,” Johnson said. “It’s been that way the whole year and it’s going to continue to elevate.”
Over the last three games, Johnson has 18 catches for 335 yards and four touchdowns.
Starting center Jake Hanson, who suffered an undisclosed injury at Arizona State, was in uniform for senior day ceremonies but did not play.
Classmates Calvin Throckmorton (center) and Brady Aiello (right tackle) filled out the starve five up front.
It was the 50th consecutive start along the offensive line for the versatile Throckmorton and left guard Shane Lemieux.
Recruiting never stops
Oregon also picked up an in-state recruiting victory after defeating Oregon State when Keith Brown, a four-star linebacker in the Class of 2021 from Lebanon High, made a verbal commitment to the Ducks on Saturday night.
A video of Brown announcing his decision to Oregon players and coaches went viral following the Civil War.
“I’ve known where I want to go to college for the past four months probably,” Brown said. “I think everyone in here kind of knew. I think it’s time to make it official. I’m going to stay at home. Go Ducks.”
The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder is ranked as the top inside linebacker in his class following his junior season. He is also the state’s top recruit in 2021.
Oregon, which has now won 11 of the past 12 meetings, including six consecutive matchups at Autzen, leads the series with Oregon State 66-47-10.
The Ducks are averaging 45.3 points over the last 12 meetings, outscoring the Beavers 543-301 during the span.
Oregon reached 10 wins in a season for the 11th time in school history and the first time since 2014. The Ducks went 7-0 at home for the program’s eighth unbeaten season at Autzen. ...Kayvon Thibodeaux had a sack and two tackles for loss. The freshman defensive end has four sacks and eight tackles for loss over the last four games. ...Wide receiver Daewood Davis did not dress out due to an undisclosed injury. ...Oregon has its sights set on beating Utah in the Pac-12 championship game and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl, but two Alamo Bowl representatives requested press box seats to watch the Civil War.
“You can’t hold me back on my last Shout, man,” senior linebacker Troy Dye quipped when asked about an official attempting to get him off the field during his last dance at Autzen. “I don’t give a damn. They’re lucky I didn’t go to the middle of that O, they’re lucky we weren’t up by a couple more touchdowns or I would have been really disrespectful out there.”