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Second-Half Surge Fuels Ducks

Sep 18, 2021

EUGENE, Ore. – The No. 4 Oregon football team scored 31 unanswered points in the second half Saturday to beat Stony Brook, 48-7, and remain unbeaten through three games this season.

The Ducks (3-0) followed up their historic victory at Ohio State the week before by wrapping up nonconference play with another win despite being shorthanded. Starting quarterback Anthony Brown didn't play in the second half, and Kayvon Thibodeaux missed his second straight game as the UO defense was without many of its top pass-rushing threats against the Seawolves (1-2).

Despite that, Oregon won its 28th straight nonconference home game – the second-longest active streak in the country – and won in Autzen Stadium for the 14th time in a row, after enduring a weather-related delay that moved the opening kickoff back about 40 minutes. The Ducks will open Pac-12 play next Saturday by hosting Arizona (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

"There were some bright spots in the first half, but not really enough," UO coach Mario Cristobal said. "We need to take more control of a game like that earlier on. But very encouraged by the second half."

Brown staked the Ducks to a 17-7 halftime lead that included a passing touchdown to CJ Verdell on a pitch play, and a rushing touchdown by Brown himself. Oregon didn't score on its final two possessions of the first half, and Brown didn't return after sacks on the last two plays of the half. But two interceptions by Verone McKinley III kept Stony Brook from scoring more than once before halftime.

True freshman Ty Thompson initially took over for Brown at quarterback after halftime. The second possession he led ended with a passing touchdown to tight end Terrance Ferguson, who had previously thrown key blocks on each of Oregon's two first-half touchdowns. After an interception by Bennett Williams set up a rushing touchdown by Travis Dye, the Ducks regained possession again and went ahead 34-7 on the second field goal of the game by Camden Lewis.

"I just love the fight of this team," said Dye, who surpassed 2,000 career rushing yards during Saturday's game. "I love the mentality of this team. We weren't satisfied with this."

Thompson capped his night with a one-play scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter. True freshman receiver Dont'e Thornton caught a pass and broke free for a 54-yard touchdown that made it 41-7.

"We knew Ty was prepared for this moment," McKinley said. "He prepares the same way 'AB' does, and he was ready to ride."'

Jay Butterfield then took over at quarterback and led Oregon's final scoring drive, culminating in a rushing touchdown by Trey Benson.

Brown was 14-of-18 for 159 yards with touchdowns passing and rushing in the first half, and Thompson finished 6-of-9 for 82 yards with two TDs in his collegiate debut. Dye led Oregon's backs with 87 rushing yards and a score, and Noah Sewell had 10 tackles to lead the UO defense. McKinley's two interceptions gave him three in his last two games.

The Ducks played a relatively clean game, with no turnovers for the second straight game. They committed just five penalties for 65 yards. A 2-of-10 conversion rate on third down will be an area for improvement as Oregon enters conference play.

Getting some players healthy on defense will help with that. Along with Thibodeaux, edge players Mase Funa, Adrian Jackson and Bradyn Swinson also didn't play Saturday. Linebacker Keith Brown was in pads but didn't play after replacing the injured Justin Flowe as a starting inside linebacker at Ohio State; Nate Heaukulani started in that spot Saturday, with converted safety Jeffrey Bassa rotating in followed by Micah Roth and Jabril McNeill.

"There was a lot of young guys out there today, a lot of guys seeing their first action – even early on when it wasn't out of hand," Williams said. "So it was definitely important for us to talk, and for the leaders and more experienced guys to step up."