Bears Fall at No. 12 Oregon, 56-7
Sept. 17, 2011
EUGENE, Ore. -- After giving No. 12 Oregon all it wanted early in Saturday's non-conference matchup, Missouri State couldn't stop the Ducks from rolling to a 56-7 victory before a sellout crowd of 58,847 at Autzen Stadium. Oregon seized momentum from a key defensive stop early in the second period to score on six consecutive possessions and turn a 14-7 contest into a 49-point margin.
Oregon, which racked up 681 total yards and scored on five of its first six possessions of the game, took advantage of three Darron Thomas touchdown passes and a 90-yard run by LaMichael James to seize control. Thomas connected on 11-of-15 pass attempts for 203 yards overall, and hooked up with Lavasier Tuinei on two of his three touchdown strikes.
James, meanwhile, matched a career high with three rushing touchdowns and totaled a season-high 204 yards on 12 carries, including a 90-yard touchdown run that represented the longest in the 45-year history of Autzen Stadium.
While Oregon's offense rolled, it was the Duck's defense that turned in perhaps the biggest play of the opening half. The Bears' offense provided plenty of reasons for optimism early in the game, piling up 11 first downs in the opening half to surpass their total for the entire game against previous FBS opponent Arkansas. MSU outgained the Ducks 147-98 in the first quarter, as Wooden would connect on all four pass attempts for 80 yards in the period.
But, with Missouri State driving toward a potential game-tying touchdown early in the second quarter, the Ducks' defense rose to the occasion, stopping Chris Douglas on a fourth-and-one attempt at the seven yard line to thwart the MSU drive and spark a turning point in the game.
The Ducks would score three unanswered touchdowns over the ensuing six-and-a-half minutes to build a 35-7 halftime lead, then found the endzone on their first three possessions of the second half to put the game out of reach for good. Oregon's defense did its part as well, as the Ducks totaled 10 first downs in the second half before the Bears got their first and limited MSU to 32 total yards in the third period en route to running their record to 2-1 on the season.
The outcome marked a stark contrast to the onset of the contest that saw the Bears take the opening kickoff and march down the field for a nine-play, 84-yard drive that was capped by Douglas's three-yard touchdown run.
Sophomore quarterback Trevor Wooden hooked up with junior tight end Matt Thayer on a pair of key completions to set up the drive. On a third and five from the Missouri State 21 yard line, Wooden found a wide open Thayer down the sideline for a 30-yard gain. Following an 18-yard scamper by Wooden, the MSU signal-caller found Thayer once again, this time for an eight-yard gain to the Oregon 16. A 12-yard pickup by freshman Julian Burton moved the ball to the Ducks three, and Douglas punched home his first touchdown of the season to punctuate the drive at the 10:22 mark.
The early score handed the Bears their first lead over an NCAA FBS opponent since the 2005 season, when they claimed a 3-0 advantage over Arkansas.
The Ducks wasted little time in recovering, as De'Anthony Thomas turned in the first of two critical first-half returns to get the ball rolling. The freshman brought the ensuing kickoff out to the Oregon 44 to set up a 10-play, 56-yard drive. Darron Thomas connected on three of four passing attempts, and James nicked the Bears' defense for 26 yards on six carries, including a one-yard run that knotted the score at 7-7 with 7:21 to play in the opening quarter.
After yielding a first down via a Wooden 10-yard completion to Burton on Missouri State's next possession, Oregon's defense clamped down to force the Bears' first punt of the afternoon.
That's when De'Anthony Thomas struck again, returning Jordan Chiles's punt 48 yards to the MSU 37 to spark another Ducks' scoring drive. After three different Ducks rushed for 29 yards to set up a first-and-goal at the MSU eight, Darron Thomas found a wide-open Tuinei in the end zone to put the home team on top for the first time.
Missouri State went right back to work, however, as a 13-yard run by freshman Vernon Scott and a 32-yard completion that deflected off of at least two Bears put MSU in prime position to put points on the board once again.
Oregon needed just three plays and 37 seconds to find the endzone and push its lead to 21-7, as Darron Thomas connected with three different receivers to cover 93 yards, the last seven coming on a short completion to Colt Lyerla with 12:11 to go in the half.
James extended the Oregon lead further with his record-breaking run with 8:36 to go. The big run for the 2010 Doak Walker Award winner also matched the longest TD run for a Bear opponent in the 100-season history of the MSU program. UO added another touchdown with 5:33 remaining on the clock, as Darron Thomas again found Tuinei on a scoring strike, this one from 34 yards out to push the Duck lead to 35-7.
MSU, which finished with 289 yards of total offense controlled the clock throughout the game, totaling nearly 40 minutes in time of possession.
Wooden led the Bears with 73 yards rushing on 16 carries to go along with a 6-of-13 showing through the air, good for 91 yards. Scott sparked the Bears' rushing attack with 53 yards on 14 carries in his first game action for Missouri State.
Up next, the Bears (0-3) conclude their season-opening four-game road swing next Saturday (Sept. 24) against Southern Illinois to kick-off the 2011 Missouri Valley Football Conference campaign. Game time at Salukis Stadium is set for 6 p.m.