Ducks dominant in 35-17 Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State

By Jackson Long

Oregon Daily Emerald, U. Oregon via UWIRE

Ducks dominant in 35-17 Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A football game is 60 minutes long. Oregon led for 59 minutes and 48 seconds of Thursday’s Fiesta Bowl, in which the Ducks blew away the Kansas State Wildcats, 35-17.

Senior Kenjon Barner had a quiet, yet strong final outing, rushing for 143 yards on 31 carries. Marcus Mariota was named the offensive MVP, going 12-of-24 passing for 116 yards and two TDs. On the ground, he had 62 yards on eight attempts and one score.

Defensively, Michael Clay was MVP, racking up nine tackles and a sack, while safety Erick Dargan had eight takedowns and two picks.

“I am just really proud of our guys,” said coach Chip Kelly. When asked where he thought his team ranked nationally after the win he responded, “I don’t know. I don’t have a vote. I don’t want to vote. It’s my favorite team. So I vote us number one.”

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It took just 12 seconds for De’Anthony Thomas to run 94 yards, beginning in the corner against his own goal line and finishing with a sprinter’s closing burst over the plane of the endzone. Thomas’ scoring runback was the first play of the game and, during his blur from one end of the field to the other, he never looked back and the rest of his team followed suit for the entire contest.

“I just feel like my role in this game was just to be a momentum builder and a game changer,” Thomas said.

Oregon snagged the momentum as soon as the ball touched Thomas’ gloves and, for the majority of the game, dictated how the night would go.

A two-point conversion from defensive end Dion Jordan, from the oft-used special teams formation the Ducks employ after touchdowns, gave Oregon the immediate 8-0 lead.

After a turnover on downs by Kansas State followed by punts from both teams, Oregon added to its lead when Thomas scored on a 23-yard screen pass. Thomas caught Mariota’s short pass and bumped off his own blocker (center Hroniss Grasu) but kept his footing while Grasu delivered a monster block on a Wildcat, allowing Thomas to carry KSU tacklers into the end zone with him for the touchdown.

Kansas State’s lone, lengthy, positive portion of the game came at the end of the first quarter and into a part of the second. The Wildcats went on a 10-play, 58-yard drive that lasted 5:20 and ended in a Collin Klein six-yard scoring scamper. KSU then forced the Ducks to punt after just three plays and drove down the grass again, this time resulting in a 25-yard, Anthony Cantele field goal, cutting the deficit to five. The Wildcat defense again came up big, forcing a turnover on downs for the Ducks. But the momentum that Kansas State had begiu to take back after Oregon’s initial scoring burst was nullified by a missed 40-yard Cantele field goal.

This is where the Ducks shut the door on the men from Manhattan, Kansas.

In just five plays, the Oregon offense covered 77 yards. What’s more, Oregon did it only 46 seconds, which means the Ducks were snapping the ball essentially every nine seconds and gaining 15.4 yards on each play. The scoring play was the longest of the drive, a 24-yard connection from Mariota to Barner on a wheel route.

Kansas State was left with less than 15 seconds on the clock and, after a desperation deep heave from Klein that was picked by Dargan, the first half ended with Oregon ahead 22-10.

In the third, Oregon pulled away. After forcing a Kansas State punt, Oregon drove deep into KSU turf, but after being stumped at the 15-yardline, the Ducks sent kicker Alejandro Maldonado out on the field, who nailed a 33-yard kick.

A three-and-out for KSU followed by a series of short gains for the Duck offense ended in another Oregon touchdown; this time Mariota reached the end zone on an option-keeper. The Ducks now held their largest lead of the night, ahead 32-10.

Kansas State was able to muster one more score in the final quarter of play, as tailback John Hubert scored on a 10-yard shovel pass from Klein. The Wildcats earned the ball back after a UO punt but elected to kick the ball back to Oregon after failing to move the chains. This proved to be costly as the Ducks went on a 10-play, 57-yard drive that ended in a made field goal.

Before it was over, Klein would throw another pick to Dargan and once the final whistle had blown, Oregon was crowned Fiesta Bowl champs, with a victory margin of 18.

Klein, a Heisman candidate, was held to 151 passing yards and just one aerial score, while tossing two interceptions and averaging just 4.7 yards per pass attempt. On the ground he managed a horrible total of 30 yards on 13 carries.

Turning point. After a missed K-State field goal, Oregon ended the Wildcat’s momentum with a lightning-fast scoring drive just before the half.

On the horizon. This was it for the 2012-2013 football season, but changes are afoot for the Ducks. Kelly could leave for an NFL coaching gig and key seniors like Barner, Clay, Jordan, Kiko Alonso, along with others are graduating.

Read more here: http://dailyemerald.com/2013/01/03/ducks-dominant-in-fiesta-bowl-win-over-kansas-state/
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