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Oregon orchestrates thrilling comeback to escape with 44-41 win over Washington State

Jarrid Denney09/24/22
Article written by:On3 imageJarrid Denney

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(Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Against all odds, Oregon found a way to emerge with a win in the Palouse.

The No. 15 Ducks trailed Washington State by two scores with less than seven minutes to Saturday in Pullman and appeared headed for their second loss of the season. But they delivered a gritty, impressive performance down the stretch to nab a 44-41 win over the Cougars.

Troy Franklin hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass to give Oregon a 37-34 lead with 1:21 left in the game. Washington State had a chance to answer back, but Mase Funa grabbed a pick-six to seal the game and secure one of the more exciting wins in recent program history.

Nix threw for 428 yards on 33-for-44 passing, and Franklin caught five passes for 137 yards.

How it happened

Oregon fell behind early when Ward scored on a keeper to cash in a 75-yard, eight-play opening drive drive.

From there, the Ducks had no problem moving the ball down the field but struggled mightily to finish off drives. They reached the red zone on their first four drives but were forced to settle for field goals in three of those instances.

The other drive threatened to swing the momentum in Washington State’s favor for good. Oregon reached the Cougar’s five-yard line with just under five minutes to go in the second quarter. Nix tried to find Sean Dollars in the flat, but Francisco Mauigoa jumped the route, intercepted the pass, and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown to give the Cougars a 17-6 lead.

The Ducks responded well from there and tacked on a field goal before the half, and then quickly scored on their first drive of the third quarter when Nix found Bucky Irving for a 12-yard score to cut the lead to 17-15.

But Washington State separated itself and scored 10 unanswered points from there.

Oregon had a chance to take the lead early in the fourth after Trikweze Bridges made an acrobatic interception that gave the Ducks the ball at their own 46. But they went three-and-out on the following drive, were forced to punt the ball back to the Cougars at their own 19.

From there, Washington State uncorked a 12-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that gave them a 34-22 lead with 6:42 left in the game. During that series, they benefited from a targeting call on DJ Johnson that resulted in the star edge rusher being ejected from the game.

Later in the drive, Brandon Dorlus was hit with a roughing the passer call on third-and-long that gave the Cougars a fresh set of downs and ultimately enabled them to score.

Oregon got the ball back with 6:34 to go and quickly marched down the field. It cut the Washington State lead to 34-29 when Nix found Cam McCormick for a 1-yard touchdown pass.

In order to win the game, the Ducks needed to find a way to stop the Washington State offense and get the ball back. They did exactly that and forced a three-and-out that was highlighted by a big second-down tackle behind the sticks by Justin Flowe.

The Ducks got the ball back at their own 31 with 2:36 to go, setting the stage for Nix’s go-ahead touchdown throw to Franklin. Nix then tacked on the two-point conversion with a quarterback keeper.

The Cougars didn’t go away quietly, though. Ward found Donovan Ollie for a 60-yard completion that put Washington State at the 1-yard line. Nakia Watson punched in the touchdown with two seconds left to give the game its final score.