The Ducks won the 123rd edition of the Civil War 24-10 on a frigid Saturday afternoon. Far from pretty, Oregon relied on its defense and special teams to carry it to its 10th win of the season.
This year’s edition of the Civil War had a lot on the line — Oregon State needed just one more win to earn its first bowl game berth since 2013.
“They just talk so much trash,” defensive back Jevon Holland said. “I don’t like how they talk so much trash and then lose.”
After three quiet quarters, a series of wild plays in the fourth woke up Autzen Stadium. A fourth-quarter drive by the Beavers led to a powerful 19-yard touchdown run by Jermar Jefferson to cut the Ducks lead to seven.
Later in the fourth, a Jaylon Redd touchdown was overturned because he lost control of the ball in the end zone, resulting in a turnover. The call elicited a chorus of boos in from the Autzen faithful, but Redd had dropped the ball long before it hit the pylon.
The Beavers got the ball with the momentum in their favor. However, their chance to tie the game was upended when Thomas Graham Jr. made a critical tackle on 4th and 5.
Graham came up clutch again, in the last minutes of the 4th quarter, when a streaking Jermar Jefferson tried to hurdle Graham, only to lose the ball. It was scooped up Brady Breeze, all but icing the game.
“It just felt amazing,” Graham said. “The best feeling was just how close I am to most of the seniors.”
Oregon’s offense sputtered all game. Herbert overthrew open receivers and the Ducks were 3-14 on third down. The Ducks were held virtually scoreless for the entire second half, with the exception of a late touchdown run by Cyrus Habibi-Likio with a minute remaining when the game was all but decided.
“Not up to our standard,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “We got to get back to work and get better.”
Special teams were a bright spot for the Ducks. With the exception of a missed field goal by Camden Lewis, Oregon’s kicking game pinned the Beavers deep in their own territory on numerous occasions.
The highlight play of the game was Mykael Wright’s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Wright torched the Beavers, earning his second kickoff return touchdown of the season. His score was even more important considering how much trouble Oregon had scoring the ball. His electrifying returns brought back memories of one of the great Oregon return men of all time, De’Anthony Thomas.
“I loved De’Anthony Thomas and this is what he did,” Wright said. “Being able to do this is really a blessing.”
Saturday was also the final game for the senior class. Justin Herbert and Troy Dye were some of the most notable departures from the program. They struggled in their first season together, finishing 4-8 and losing the Civil War. But now as seniors, they’re 10-2 and are poised for a trip to the Rose Bowl with a win on Friday.
The Ducks now face the toughest test ahead of them this season when they take on the winner of the Pac-12 South next week in the conference championship game.
“They have a 10-win season, won the North and now they have a chance to play a great team in the Pac-12 champioship,” Cristobal said. “That’s what your goal is when you go to a program.”