Ducks score first victory of season over Purdue

Ivar Vong

Chip Kelly’s home directorial debut of the Oregon football team revealed the offense to be a work still in progress. Oregon’s defense stepped up to cover for the offense, and good fortune swayed the outcome into the Ducks’ favor.

Though the Purdue Boilermakers scored a critical touchdown on fourth and 12 from the Oregon 15 through a gadget wide receiver-pass play, the two-point conversion attempt to tie the game was caught out of bounds, and Oregon recovered the ensuing onside kickoff attempt to secure a 38-36 win.

“Last week, we were all kinda depressed, especially after what happened (with LeGarrette Blount),” quarterback Jeremiah Masoli said. “I’m just glad we regrouped and refocused and got this W.”

The offense, nine days removed from a completely inept performance against Boise State, was outgained overall by the Boilermakers — 356 yards to Purdue’s 451 — and was stunted by lost fumbles from running backs Andre Crenshaw and LaMichael James. The first series of the game, a three-and-out to match Purdue’s possession after the opening kick, reassured none of the 57,772 fans in attendance.

Nevertheless, Oregon struck first with a Morgan Flint field goal and traded rushing touchdowns with Purdue during the end of the first quarter. As the second quarter opened up, the Boilermakers capped a seven-play, 64-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown run from Ralph Bolden to take a 14-10 lead. The Ducks failed to execute more than five plays on their next four possessions before Walter Thurmond III jumped an out route to intercept Purdue quarterback Tyler Elliott and virtually walked into the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.

“I saw the split end kinda close to the offensive line. I didn’t think the quarterback would throw that route,” Thurmond said. “I just jumped it.”

Purdue tied the score entering halftime with a Carson Wiggs field goal and capitalized on James’ fumble with another rushing touchdown by Bolden, but a botched center exchange by Elliott was scooped up by safety Javes Lewis, who ran it in 28 yards for the second defensive touchdown of the game.

“We were in Cover One, and they lined up with number 8 (wide receiver Keith Smith) in the backfield, so it was my job to cover him and I went in from the right side of the field and I just followed him, and I just saw the ball loose,” Lewis said of the play. “I saw a couple of my teammates already around the ball, so I just slow-played it. Once it was free, I just went up and scooped the ball and made a couple of moves.”

Three minutes later, Masoli followed Lewis’ heroics with a touchdown run of his own — his eighth in the past nine Oregon football games — to take a 31-24 lead. Purdue answered with a 22-yard pass from Elliott to Bolden, but reserve defensive end Zac Clark blocked the point-after attempt to secure the lead and ignite cheers from the crowd.

Redshirt freshman running back Kenjon Barner scored from 21 yards out on a third-and-19 play with 6:42 remaining to give the Ducks a 38-30 lead. Purdue, unfazed, capped a 14-play, clock-sapping drive with a rollout pass from Smith to fellow wideout Aaron Valentin to threaten the Ducks.

Elliott followed the touchdown by rolling out of the pocket on the point-after attempt and finding tight end Kyle Adams in the back of the end zone. Adams, however, did not land inbounds, and an official review confirmed the call and sealed Purdue’s fate.

“Luckily, the quarterback overthrew him and he caught the ball out of bounds,” Thurmond said.

Blount attends game

Wearing his number 9 jersey and green basketball shorts, suspended Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount watched the Oregon-Purdue game from the sideline Saturday night.

Blount, suspended for the year after punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the jaw following Oregon’s loss to the Broncos, was well-received by the Oregon student section. Students brandished posters reading “Heavyweight champ of the Great NW,” “Hout’s parents hit him too” and “Chuck Norris bought a Blount jersey” and chanted “Free LeGarrette”.

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