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Oregon’s Justin Herbert excelled when it mattered to get first win against Washington State

Washington State's Willie Taylor III, left, and Jahad Woods, right, converge on Oregon's Justin Herbert for a sack during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Eugene, Ore. (Chris Pietsch / AP)
By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

EUGENE – Justin Herbert finally got his victory over Washington State.

Herbert didn’t particularly light up the stat sheet on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium, but he did move the chains with remarkable efficiency in Oregon’s 37-35 victory.

The senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate finished 6 of 7 on third downs, plus a 12-yard scramble, helping the Ducks convert on 11 of 17 such situations. He completed 21 of 30 attempts with no interceptions, part of a turnover-free effort from the Oregon offense.

He finished with 222 passing yards, his second fewest in a game this season.

Herbert also failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 35 games, ending the longest current streak in the nation. Through seven games this year, he had 21 touchdowns and just one interception.

But on a night when the Ducks ran for 306 yards, Herbert didn’t need to do much more than hand off the football.

That is, until the game’s final drive, when he completed 4 of 4 attempts for 52 yards, setting up the Ducks’ winning 26-yard field goal that ended Oregon’s four-game losing streak against Washington State.

It marked the final outing of Herbert’s career against the Cougars, who either held the Eugene native in check or avoided him entirely during his four seasons with the Ducks.

In 2018, Herbert and the Ducks didn’t score any first-half points in a 34-20 loss in Pullman. He finished that game 25 of 44 for 270 yards and two passing touchdowns and another rushing.

He missed five games in 2017 due to injury, Oregon’s 33-10 loss to Washington State being one of them. In 2016, he threw his first pass attempt of his college career late in a 51-33 loss in Pullman, a game in which he also scored a 4-yard touchdown run in the final minute.