Oregon senior receiver Charles Nelson told coach Willie Taggart this week that the one thing he always wanted to do was throw a touchdown pass.
Nelson got his wish on Saturday. Oh, and it was his birthday, too.
Nelson got tripped up on a reverse but regained his footing to throw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Breeland and Oregon went on to beat Utah 41-20 in Eugene, Oregon, to snap a three-game losing streak.
Nelson was congratulated on the sideline by injured Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert following the play which put the Ducks (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) ahead 27-13 late in the third quarter.
“I just told myself, ‘Be a ballplayer,’” Nelson said about the play.
Utah (4-4, 1-4) couldn’t catch up and fell to its fourth consecutive loss. Tyler Huntley, making his second start after returning from an injury, threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Former Oregon receiver Darren Carrington caught nine passes for 130 yards.
Oregon’s Tony Brooks James ran for 105 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The win got the Ducks closer to bowl eligibility for Taggart’s first season. Oregon’s three-game slide coincided with the loss of Herbert, who fractured his collarbone against California on Sept. 30.
“The guys decided to stop feeling sorry for themselves and go out and play football like they’re capable of,” Taggart said.
Royce Freeman rushed for 139 yards for Oregon but didn’t score for the fifth straight game.
Last weekend in a loss to UCLA, Freeman ran for 160 yards to set a new career record for rushing yards (5,103) at Oregon. With one more touchdown he will surpass leader LaMichael James on the school’s career list.
Colorado 44, California 28: Steven Montez bounced back from a benching a week earlier and threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the Buffaloes’ (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) win over the Golden Bears (4-5, 1-5) in Boulder, Colorado.
The Buffaloes (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) capped their homecoming win with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by junior free safety Nick Fisher with 2:34 remaining that made it 44-21.
As part of homecoming festivities, Colorado retired the jersey of the late Rashaan Salaam, the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner.
Montez, who completed 20 of 26 passes, also ran for a score and Phillip Lindsay ran for 161 yards for Colorado.