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Defense Leads the Way as Ducks Hold Off Beavers 24-10 in the 123rd Civil War

The 123rd Civil War began with a bit of a surprise in the starting lineup for the Oregon St Beavers. Starting QB Jake Luton suffered a forearm injury against Washington St in the previous game, so the sophomore Tristan Gebbia got the start for the Beavs.

Oregon received the ball first, and Herbert went right to work targeting Redd early. The Ducks moved down the field methodically on a 16 play, 56 yard drive, and even converted a fourth and one in the red zone. However, the Beavers defense made a stand and forced Oregon to settle for a FG.

On Oregon State’s first possession, Tristan Gebbia completed a nice pass to Flemming for a 22 yard gain, which moved the Beavers inside Oregon territory. Oregon St was spreading the ball wide and getting their playmakers in space. On a third and one, RB B.J. Baylor lost his footing and fell down for a two yard loss, but Gebbia delivered a strike out to Trevon Bradford on a critical fourth down to extend the drive.

Oregon St got the ball inside the red zone, but had a Jermar Jefferson TD run called back due to a ‘hands to the face’ penalty. The Beavers could not could make up for the mistake and were forced to settle for a FG of their own.

On the ensuing kickoff, the freshman Mykael Wright gave the Ducks a spark, in the form of a 98-yard kickoff return TD. The return broke a Civil War record for longest kickoff return, previously held by Oregon State’s Bob Olson (95 yards, 1939). Just like that, the Ducks held a 10-3 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Each team traded punts, but then on the Ducks third possession (not counting the kickoff return TD), Justin Herbert found his man Johnny Johnson III for the 28-yard TD strike. The TD was Johnson’s sixth of the season, and it extended Oregon’s lead to 17-3.

The pressure began to rise for the Beavers, who really needed to come up with an answer. On third and eight, the Ducks defense stopped them a few yards short. Jonathan Smith decided to go for it, having made it the previous time, but the Ducks defense once again made the stop and turned the Beavers over on downs. Oregon St was 0-5 on third down for the game at that point.

Oregon’s next three possessions all ended with a punt from inside the Oregon St 43 yard line. Justin Herbert finished the first half throwing 8 of 17 for just 82 yards and a TD. The Beavers’ Tristan Gebbia went 10 of 16 for 95 yards. Oregon took their 17-3 lead into halftime, with both teams going a combined 2 for 15 on third down.

The Biletnikoff award semifinalist Isaiah Hodgins was held without a catch in the first half, and Oregon St knew they needed to get him involved quickly. On their opening possession they targeted Hodgins twice but only completed one for 9 yards before being forced to punt it away.

On Oregon’s first possession of the second half, the Ducks put together a 15 play, 69 yard drive, that ate up over six minutes. The Ducks had first and goal at the Oregon St 10 yard line, but were unable to get the ball in the endzone after Herbert missed Juwan Johnson in the endzone on third down. To make matters worse for Oregon, Camden Lewis missed the 24-yard FG try.

Momentum seemed to have shifted to the Beavers after the Lewis missed FG. They immediately got the ball to Isaiah Hodgins for an 18 yard gain, followed by a 14 yard run by Jermar Jefferson. The Ducks defense was able to stop the bleeding and force a fourth and two. Jonathan Smith wanted to roll the dice one more time, but Oregon St was called for a false start penalty. The Beavers punted for the sixth time in the game.

Oregon had many chances to break the game open in the second half, but just couldn’t seem to put a stamp on it. Oregon St hung around, and when you let the underdog hang around for too long, often times they will get the break they’re looking for.

The Beavers got right back into the game after an impressive 11 play, 87 yard drive, capped off by a Jermar Jefferson 19 yard TD run. Now, with the score 17-10, the pressure was put right back on the Ducks.

It seemed as if the Ducks had answered back with a crucial 9 play, 70 yard, TD drive. However, on the TD pass from Herbert to Redd, Redd lost control of the ball reaching for the pylon, and the play resulted in a touchback. Oregon St would get the ball back down 17-10 with 7:26 left to play.

On the Beavers ensuing possession, Jonathan Smith was faced with another fourth down. This time Oregon St was at midfield and needed 6 yards to keep the drive alive. Gebbia found Jefferson to his right, but Jefferson was tackled short of the sticks and Oregon took over on downs.

Oregon St would get the stop they needed on the Ducks next possession, but they would not be able to capitalize. One play after Gebbia was nearly intercepted, Jermar Jefferson coughed up the football after catching the pass on second down.

Oregon would take over at the Oregon St 27 yard line. With just 1:15 to go, RB Cyrus Habibi-Likio put the exclamation mark on the game with a 20 yard TD run.

Final: Ducks 24, Beavers 10

Justin Herbert – 18 of 30, 174 yards, 1 TD

Trsitan Gebbia – 26 of 40, 243 yards,

No. 14 Oregon will play No. 6 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game on Friday Dec. 6th.

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