No. 2 Oregon throttles No. 23 Washington 52-21

By Matt Walks

No. 2 Oregon throttles No. 23 Washington 52-21

Another home matchup with a top-25 opponent, another blowout. At least Ducks fans got home at a reasonable hour.

After struggling out of the gates last week against Washington State, No. 2 Oregon (6-0) scored early and often against No. 23 Washington (3-2) in a wire-to-wire 52-21 win at Autzen Stadium on Saturday night. It was the Ducks’ ninth straight win against the Huskies, the longest streak in the teams’ Border War rivalry.

Marcus Mariota led the way at quarterback with four touchdowns and 198 yards on 15 completions, but the Ducks got dominant performances from all three of their units during the game. Special teams got involved early when Huskies wideout Marvin Hall muffed a Jackson Rice punt. B.J. Kelley scooped it up for the Ducks, and two plays later sophomore De’Anthony Thomas shimmied his way into the endzone from 16 yards out. The score made it 7-0, the smallest deficit the Huskies faced all night.

“We needed that to get going, I think,” Mariota said. “We came out a little slow for us.”

The redshirt freshman threw his fifth interception of the year on Oregon’s opening drive. The ball was batted in the air before Washington’s Shaq Thompson came down with it. Mariota looked sharp throughout the rest of the game, however, and head coach Chip Kelly said it’s been fun to watch the young gun grow.

“Very rarely does he make the same mistake twice,” Kelly said. “He’s a real thirsty kid. He’s always asking questions, wanting to get better.”

The defense would also score before the first quarter was over. Safety Avery Patterson notched his second pick-six in as many weeks when he slid in front of Keith Price’s pass in the first quarter and took it back 43 yards. At the time, the interception was Price’s third in five quarters against the Ducks, stretching back to last year’s matchup in Seattle.

“He’s a smart guy,” defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. “Avery’s smart. He’s got enough backbone that he’s confident, and he has a little swagger to him, but not over the top to where he’s abrasive or cocky.”

Linebacker Kiko Alonso also shined for the Ducks’ defense. With fellow linebacker Michael Clay injured, the 6-foot-4 Alonso led the team in tackles and was all over the field. His final statline: 10 tackles — three and a half of them for losses — to go with a forced fumble, a recovered fumble, a sack and a pass breakup.

“It’s neat when you can score on defense,” Aliotti said. “We’re keep the ball in front of us. We gave them some rushing yards at the end. I mean, who cares? We were running the ball, letting our younger guys play.”

Tight end Colt Lyerla also had a big day, hauling in three passes for 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns from Mariota. Since making his debut as an H-back two weeks ago against Arizona, Lyerla hasn’t seen much backfield action. But over the middle, Lyerla was deadly on Saturday. He showcased his strength in the second quarter after hauling in 48-yard reception, dragging Washington safety Travis Feeney on his back before finally being wrestled down.

Legging it. One growing area of concern for the Ducks, however, remains the kicking game. Rob Beard went 1-for-2 on field goal attempts, pushing a 41-yarder wide right before drilling one from 28 yards midway through the third quarter.

Beard is 4-for-7 on the year after taking over field goal duties from Alejandro Maldonado, who served as the team’s primary kicker last season. So far this year, though, Oregon hasn’t found itself in a tough spot, and the kicking game hasn’t been under much scrutiny.

Turning point. After Ducks stalled on their second possession of the game, Hall dropped Jackson Rice’s punt deep in Huskies territory. The miscue set the tone for the rest of the night, and after Thomas found pay dirt, the rout was on.

On the horizon. Faced with a bye week, Oregon will spend the week resting before traveling to Tempe, Ariz., to play a hungry Arizona State team.

“It’s an improvement week for us,” Kelly said. “There’s a lot of things we have to continue to improve on.”

The Sun Devils (4-1) play Colorado this Thursday. Kickoff for Oregon/Arizona State is slated for 6 p.m., the Ducks’ fourth straight night game.

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