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Ducks Begin 2021 Campaign on a Shaky 31-24 Win

AP Photo/Andy Nelson

In the first home game with fans in 644 days at Autzen stadium, the Oregon Ducks came out victorious in a 31-24 contest against Fresno State Saturday afternoon.

In what many perceived as a tune-up and put-little-on-film game for Oregon before Ohio State next week, Fresno State didn’t cooperate, bringing it from the jump. Fresno outgained Oregon 212 to 164 in the first half, 375-364 overall, with Jake Haener tossing it well to a talented Bulldog receiving core.

The Fresno offensive numbers didn’t directly correlate to points early and Oregon’s defense can be directly accredited with the Oregon lead, forcing two fumbles deep into Fresno territory. Kayvon Thibodeaux forced the first fumble off a sack which Mase Funa recovered on the three yard-line, CJ Verdell ran it in soon after for a 7-0 lead. Next drive for Fresno, Noah Sewell forced a fumble at the Fresno 27 yard-line. Travis Dye capitalized off the turnover to eventually scoring a four-yard TD to make it 14-0.

Perhaps the biggest event of note in the first half was after the whistle when star edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux went down with an ankle injury. Thibodeaux was down for a minute or so while Duck nation held their breath and trainers attended to him. Ultimately, he got up and walked off on his own but was seen in street clothes and boot on the second half.

After the Duck defensive turnover dominance and Thibodeaux injury, Fresno buttoned-up scoring a pair of field goals and a TD. Offensively for Oregon, Anthony Brown wasn’t ideally accurate in the first half but Duck fans should rightfully take stock in Brown’s 32-yard TD pass to Johnny Johnson when Brown was under pressure and hit as he threw to find Johnson by the near right side pylon.

The Ducks received the ball to start the half and running it was seemingly the message by the Oregon staff at halftime. Ultimately, it didn’t work out with Fresno State stuffing Oregon on 4th and 1 and then marching down for a TD and a successful two-point conversion to tie it at 21.

The squads traded punts and Fresno pinned Oregon inside the 5 with theirs. Oregon got out of a sticky situation with a pass interference call on Fresno. The Ducks weren’t thankful for the opportunity, fumbling the ball away a few plays later to give Fresno the ball back who ultimately kicked a field goal to go up 24-21. The Ducks forced another forced fumble this time at the expense of Haener and the Ducks tied the game back up from a Camden Lewis field goal.

Oregon’s defense caused a turnover on downs and then Oregon used the run game to their advantage, bleeding the fourth-quarter clock and ultimately scoring seven off an Anthony Brown 30-yard option run play.

Fresno State had one more chance but could not convert on a 4th and 15 with 2:20 left in the game. The Ducks were happy to run the ball after and end the game on a nervous victory.

It was not a stellar showing by any means and facets of the Oregon team did not live up to expectations. Next for Oregon is a matchup that fans have been waiting years for, facing Ohio State in Columbus next Saturday.


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