Oregon can’t overcome mistakes in 31-24 loss to Arizona
The stage was set for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to notch another Heisman moment under his belt. With Oregon starting on its own nine-yard line, down by a touchdown, Autzen Stadium still had plenty of believers filling the stands.
However, when the clock struck 2:11, any hope of Oregon clinging to an undefeated season was washed away by a Scooby Wright strip, sack and fumble recovery.
It’s a position Mariota should’ve never been in as the Ducks fell to Arizona for the second year in a row, 31-24.
“We just didn’t need to be in that situation,” Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. “When we’re behind the eight ball like that, we put ourselves in that position.”
Throughout the game, Oregon got in a habit of shooting itself in the foot. That trend started early.
On fourth down and three from the Arizona 31-yard line, Mariota dropped back and fired a pass to a wide open Byron Marshall. The ball bounced off of Marshall’s hands and Oregon walked away with zero points on the first possession. The Ducks would be held scoreless for the opening quarter.
“In this league…you can’t make mistakes and beat yourself,” Frost said. “I think across the board we did that.”
Penalties were also a major factor in the seven-point loss. Oregon finished with 10 penalties for 79-yards. The most painful one came on Arizona’s game-winning possession. In a tie game, Oregon outside linebacker Tony Washington sacked Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon on third and goal for a nine-yard loss that looked like it would lead to a field goal attempt. After the play Washington was called for unsportsmanlike conduct — A nine-yard penalty that resulted in an automatic first down. Terris Jones-Grigsby scored from one-yard out three plays later to give the Wildcats a seven-point lead.
“I think more than anything we beat ourselves, in some ways, with stupid penalties,” linebacker Derrick Malone said.
After every game, a film session and a review usually acts as a turning of the page for a football team. However, losing to the Wildcats for the second year in a row will make the transition a lot more difficult.
“It’s going to hurt,” Malone said. “I know how much effort we put into this week and we had a really good Arizona team come in here and beat us.”
The turnaround has to be quick for the Ducks with a trip to No. 8 UCLA on the horizon. Last season, the Ducks bounced back after their first loss with a 44-21 victory over Utah.
“Not every team in college football is going to go undefeated,” Oregon defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu said. “So, everyone has to learn from their losses and get better. That’s the whole point. You don’t want to have a loss and not learn anything from it and be the same team next week.”
Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @JoeJHoyt
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