EUGENE – Washington State couldn’t catch CJ Verdell, and after four years of futility, Oregon finally overcame its toughest obstacle in the Pac-12 North.
Verdell ran away from the Cougars time and time again, and Camden Lewis kicked a 26-yard field goal at the buzzer to lift the 11th-ranked Ducks at Autzen Stadium, winning 37-35 Saturday night in front of nearly 60,000 fans who were glad to see Oregon finally get past WSU – an effort that had been four years in the making.
WSU (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) is idle next week before traveling to face California on Nov. 9 in Berkeley.
While the Cougars remained winless on the road in the Pac-12 play, Oregon (7-1, 5-0) stayed unbeaten at home, maintained its lead in the North Division and kept its chances of a College Football Playoff berth intact.
WSU went ahead 35-34 with exactly 1 minute left, driving 90 yards on 10 plays, as Anthony Gordon whipped in a 5-yard touchdown to Brandon Arconado. The Cougars picked up half of that on a 48-yard pass from Gordon to Tay Martin and capitalized just four plays later.
But Justin Herbert and the Oregon offense moved quickly with the time they had left, going 53 yards in 52 seconds to set up Lewis with a chip shot when there were 5 seconds to go.
It marks the third time in Pac-12 play the Cougars have lost by four points or fewer and the first time they lost with time expiring since the 2013 New Mexico Bowl against Colorado State.
An 89-yard scoring run in the opening quarter set the tone for Verdell’s big night. The Cougars never could slow the slippery sophomore running back, who finished with 23 carries for 257 yards (an average of 11.2 per carry) and three touchdowns. Verdell also caught four passes for 56 yards to finish with 313 all-purpose yards.
Despite his production, Oregon couldn’t put WSU away until late in the fourth quarter, and the Cougars piled up 446 total yards of offense against a Ducks team that came in allowing just 288.6 per game. Oregon rolled up 528 yards of total offense and picked up the yards that mattered late in the game.
Gordon finished 32-of-50 passing for 406 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Arconado was his leading receiver, catching nine balls for 130 yards and two scores. Max Borghi had more than 100 all-purpose yards and rushed for one touchdown in the first half.
The visiting team survived a litany of errors in the first half and managed to go into the break tied at 17.
WSU’s defense held on Oregon’s first two drives, allowing only three points, but WSU squandered an opportunity to establish an early 7-0 lead when Liam Ryan was called for consecutive holding penalties and Rodrick Fisher dropped a would-be touchdown pass a few yards shy of the goal line.
The Cougars settled for a 36-yard field goal to go up 3-0. Oregon tied it with a field goal on the other end then went ahead when Verdell busted through a hole near the left sideline to go 89 yards untouched. It was the Ducks’ longest rushing touchdown since the 2012 Rose Bowl against Wisconsin.
Arconado dropped another surefire WSU touchdown, unable to hang onto a well-thrown ball from Gordon in the end zone. Oregon’s Verone McKinley III made the catch instead – the first of two picks the Ducks would make in the half.
Gordon’s second interception, on third-and-long from the Cougars’ 5-yard line, fell into the arms of Jevon Holland. The sophomore nickel snaked through a crowd of white shirts to complete the 19-yard interception return.
But the Cougars manufactured a touchdown drive on their final possession of the half, as Gordon threw a short swing pass to Renard Bell, who curled into the end zone for a 15-yard score.
– Theo Lawson, The Spokesman-Review
Pac-12 Networks / YouTube
7:26 – WSU 3, Oregon 0: Blake Mazza splits the uprights with a 36-yard field goal and Washington State gets on the scoreboard first in Autzen.
Quarterback Anthony Gordon drove the Cougars down the field quickly, completing his first four pass attempts to get WSU from its own 25 to inside the Oregon 5 in just five plays. Brandon Arconado was the primary target, catching two passes for 39 yards.
The WSU drive stalled inside the red zone as left tackle Liam Ryan was called for two holds and Rodrick Fisher dropped a pass just short of the goal line.
The Cougars took possession of the ball after forcing Oregon to punt after the Ducks gained just 11 yards on their opening drive.
3:11 – WSU 3, Oregon 3: Oregon kicker Camden Lewis tucks a 40-yard field goal just inside the left upright to tie the game.
Oregon turned to running back CJ Verdell to get its offense jump started. Verdell carried the ball on four of the first five plays of the drive for 29 yards.
Facing fourth-and-3 at the WSU 22, Oregon contemplated going for it, but elected to call timeout and call on Lewis.
1:15 – Oregon 9, WSU 3: CJ Verdell goes 89 yards on the Ducks first play of the drive and Oregon takes the lead.
Verdell, a sophomore running back, went untouched into the end zone after taking a hand off off-tackle to his left and busting through a huge hole. He is up to 123 yards on 6 carries.
Camden Lewis missed the point after attempt.
12:37 – Oregon 9, WSU 3: Anthony Gordon is intercepted in the end zone after his pass hits Brandon Arconado in the hands.
Arconado had to jump and reach back for the pass, but the receiver couldn’t keep a grip on the ball as it deflected off his face mask and into the hands of Oregon DB Verone McKinley III.
It was the second dropped potential touchdown for the Cougs after Rodrick Fisher’s drop in the first quarter.
6:59 – WSU 10, Oregon 9: Washington State running back Max Borghi shows his strength as he powers into the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Borghi took the hand off to his right, eluded one tackler in the backfield and then smashed through a defender at the goal line.
Blake Mazza’s extra point put the Cougars back in front.
The Cougars got a great start to their drive when a personal foul on Oregon on the Cougs’ punt return moved the ball to the UO 36.
Borghi has 33 yards on five carries.
1:51 – Oregon 17, WSU 10: Oregon defensive back Jevon Holland picks off Anthony Gordon’s pass and returns it 19 yards for a touchdown.
Washington State elected to throw the ball from their own 5 on third-and-25 and it cost them. Gordon tried to hit a receiver over the middle but Holland stepped in front of the pass for the interception and returned it down the left sideline to give the Ducks the lead.
Gordon now has thrown two interceptions in the game.
0:47 – WSU 17, Oregon 17: Renard Bell takes a screen pass from Anthony Gordon 15 yards into the end zone and the Cougars have tied the game just before halftime.
Travell Harris sparked the Cougs drive with a 36-yard kickoff return.
Anthony Gordon responded from his pick-six the previous drive, completing three passes for 44 yards to push WSU into the red zone. The redshirt senior QB is now 16-of-23 passing for 193 yards.
6:47 – Oregon 24, WSU 17: Oregon running back CJ Verdell plunges in from 2-yards out and the Ducks take the lead on their first drive of the second half.
The Ducks went 65 yards over 14 plays, mostly behind the strong running of Verdell. The sophomore carried seven times on the drive for 23 yards. He is up to 171 yards rushing for the game, with two touchdowns.
Washington State went three-and-out on its opening possession of the second half.
2:40 – Oregon 24, WSU 20: Blake Mazza makes a 23-yard field goal to cap a long Washington State drive that stalled in the red zone.
After moving 73 yards to get down the Oregon 10, the Washington State offense had to settle for the field goal after Anthony Gordon threw incomplete on second and third down.
13:20 – Oregon 31, WSU 20: CJ Verdell finds the end zone for the third time this game and the Oregon Ducks take a two-possession lead.
After trying backup Cyrus Habibi-Likio was stuffed on first and second down carries inside the WSU 5, Verdell was summoned from the sidelines to power in the third-and-goal run from the 1.
The sophomore running back now has 224 yards rushing on 18 carries.
11:01 – Oregon 31, WSU 28: Anthony Gordon may have just made his best throw of the night, as he drops one over an Oregon linebacker and onto Brandon Arconado’s number for 19-yard touchdown pass.
The Cougars needed to answer after Oregon took a two-score lead on its prior possession and Gordon made it happen. The senior quarterback completed 5 of 7 pass attempts for 74 yards on the drive.
Arconado also hauled in Gordon’s pass on the two-point conversion to get the Cougs within 3.
Arconado now has 120 yards receiving on 7 catches. Gordon is up to 333 yards passing.
6:29 – Oregon 34, WSU 28: Oregon has to settle for a Camden Lewis 30-yard field goal after its drive comes to a halt in the red zone.
Running back CJ Verdell continuted to run through the Cougs, picking up 31 yards rushing on the drive, but again wasn’t featured prominently inside the WSU 20.
After Verdell ran for 2 yards on first-and-goal from the 14, Oregon put the ball in quarterback Justin Herbert’s hands and the senior threw two incomplete passes.
1:00 – WSU 35, Oregon 34: Anthony Gordon hits Brandon Arconado on fourth-and-3 for a 5-yard touchdown pass and the Cougs take the lead.
The Cougars went 90 yards in 2:06 for the lead.
0:00 – Oregon 37, WSU 35: Freshman kicker Camden Lewis makes a 26-yard field goal and the Oregon Ducks defeat the Washington State Cougars.
After the Ducks covered 53 yards in under one minute, Lewis was called on to attempt the field goal from the middle of the field.
Mykael Wright had a 36-yard kickoff return to set up the winning drive.
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