The Oregon Ducks survived a second-half comeback attempt to beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers 42-35, Saturday, September 9, 2017 in Eugene, Oregon.
The Ducks are playing under new head coach Willie Taggart this year. However, the offense looks much the same as in the past, especially the no-huddle look. Oregon used that scheme most of the game and it worked well in the first half. However, this game was a tale of two very different halves of football.
Oregon Owned the First Half
Oregon came right out of the gate and easily marched 75 yards finishing with a 30 yard touchdown pass from QB Justin Herbert to Brenden Schooler. That gave the Ducks a 7-0 lead in about a minute and a half.
On Nebraska’s first play from scrimmage, QB Tanner Lee threw an interception and the Ducks took over on the Cornhuskers 20 yard line. Five plays later they scored again to make it 14-0. On the next possession the Huskers went 3 and out. Their defense stopped Oregon on its next series, forcing a punt.
Nebraska responded with a scoring drive on its next possession. Aided by a facemask penalty against the Ducks, Lee finished the drive with a 23 yard touchdown pass to DeMorney Pierson-El. The Huskers trailed by just one score at that point, 14-7.
The Ducks came back on their next drive and quickly scored again with a 2 yard run by Royce Freeman. They again lead by two touchdowns 21-7. Nebraska came back to put together a second scoring drive culminated with a hard-nosed run by Tre Bryant which made the score 21-14 in favor of the Ducks.
The Ducks then finished off the first half with 21 unanswered points. They led at halftime 42-14. They had run up 409 yards of offense and it looked like a blowout in the making. However, Nebraska came out in the second half and showed some real football character.
Huskers Come Back Strong in Second Half
The second half seemed to show a transformed Nebraska defense and featured a very gutsy head coach. The Huskers took the opening kickoff of the half for a touchback. After one first down, the drive stalled at the Oregon 40 yard line. On fourth down and 10, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley decided to throw the dice and go for it. The result was a 22 yard completion to Stanley Morgan Jr. for a first down, followed by a touchdown pass to Morgan to make the score 42-21 at the early part of the third quarter.
The defense held Oregon on its next possession and they punted after one series of downs. Nebraska receiver Pierson-El fumbled the punt but Oregon was penalized for fair catch interference. That put the ball on Nebraska’s own 47 yard line. After three running plays to Bryant, Lee threw a touchdown pass to Morgan Jr and the score was 42-28. The 20,000 or so Husker hopefuls were cheering and their team was giving them something to cheer about.
The final quarter began with several unsuccessful offensive series for both teams. Oregon was playing the prevent game, and it came back to hurt them when they fumbled and Nebraska recovered on the Ducks 22 with 5:50 left in the contest. The Huskers scored on a run by Mikale WIlborn that series to make it a 42-35 contest. However, with only 2:25 left and no time outs for Nebraska, Oregon managed to run out the rest of the clock and hold on for the victory.
Oregon QB Justin Herbert completed 25 of 33 pass attempts for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 1 interception. Royce Freeman led all rushers with 29 carries for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nebraska QB Tanner Lee completed 19 of 42 attempts for 252 yards, three touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
By D.T. Osborn