Vince Grippi’s Keys to the Game
What went right
The Washington State offense had no trouble moving the ball against an Oregon defense that entered in the top half of the Pac-12. QB Marshall Lobbestael, who by his own admission wasn’t that sharp, still threw for 337 yards. Marquess Wilson and Jared Karstetter each had more than 100 yards receiving. Three running backs combined for 141 yards rushing. WSU finished with more yards than Oregon, the first time that’s happened to the Ducks at home since early in 2009.
What went wrong
The special teams had two big gaffes that cost the Cougars 15 key points. The first was a blocked punt for a score to end WSU’s first series. The second came late in third quarter after WSU had pulled within nine and seemingly had some momentum. For the second time in three games, the Cougars yielded a 90-plus-yard kickoff return for a score. When freshman De’Anthony Thomas crossed the goal line, any chance the Cougars had for an upset was gone.
It may have been Thomas’ return, but more than likely it was the first drive of the second half. And the crucial play was also made by the freshman Thomas. WSU was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the half and the Ducks returned the kickoff to their 42. Three plays later, backup quarterback Bryan Bennett threw a short pass to Thomas, who outran C.J. Mizell and turned Tyree Toomer around a couple times en route to a 45-yard touchdown.
This comes back to the two Ducks freshman, Bennett, a redshirt, and Thomas, who was in high school last year. Bennett, who started last week, relieved usual quarteback Darron Thomas and engineered three second-half touchdown drives. The younger Thomas had 262 all-purpose yards, including 182 on kick returns, 54 on catches and 26 on fly sweeps. The duo had a hand in 18 of Oregon’s 43 points.