Ducks Drop Alamo Bowl To Sooners
SAN ANTONIO — One era ended Wednesday night and another is about to begin for the Oregon football program.
Playing for the final time before new head coach Dan Lanning takes over, the No. 14 Ducks allowed scores on eight straight possessions and didn't click offensively until after halftime of a 47-32 loss to Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl. Oregon lost three of its last four games — including its bowl — for the second year in a row, although was able to notch a 10-win season that saw the Ducks play for a potential third straight Pac-12 title.
The Ducks played Wednesday under interim head coach Bryan McClendon and the rest of the staff that worked for former head coach Mario Cristobal, who left the program after a loss to Utah in the conference title game. The Ducks also endured a number of opt-outs and early entries to the NFL Draft over the course of December, losses that perhaps showed in the struggles to get off the field defensively Wednesday.
"These guys, they're special," McClendon said. "They're a special group of guys; they're a special group of men. And I just loved the group we had.
"I said it every time I got in front of the mic, I wouldn't rather go into this fight with any other group."
Oregon's defense opened the game with a quick three-and-out, but an interception on a tipped pass gave the Sooners possession again and they scored for the first of eight straight drives. A 24-0 second quarter for Oklahoma put the Ducks into a 30-3 hole at halftime, and though the UO offense finally got rolling after halftime, the deficit was too great.
Senior quarterback Anthony Brown and his young receivers put on a show in the second half, with Brown completing 27-of-40 passes for 306 yards — including touchdowns of 66 yards to Dont'e Thornton, 34 yards to Kris Hutson and 30 yards to Troy Franklin.
Travis Dye became the fifth 3,000-yard rusher in school history during a 153-yard night that saw him score Oregon's first touchdown, early in the second half. But Oklahoma racked up 560 yards in the game including 318 on the ground, production the Ducks weren't quite able to match.
"As well we played in the second half, it's not a consolation prize," McClendon said. "You come here to win the game, and it hurts like hell when you don't. And right now, that's where we are."
After Hutson's touchdown late in the third quarter, the UO defense held Oklahoma to a field goal early in the fourth, despite the loss of leading tackler Noah Sewell due to concussion symptoms. The Ducks made it 47-32 on Thornton's receiving touchdown, and though OU recovered the ensuing onside kick, Oregon's defense got its first stop since the first quarter.
But with a chance to make it a one-score game in the waning minutes, the UO offense went three-and-out and the Sooners ran out the clock.
"We were just shooting ourselves in the foot from time to time," Brown said. "Credit to Oklahoma, they had certain calls on defense that were made for how we tried to attack them. But in the first half, we were just really off-schedule."
During Oklahoma's second-quarter outburst, Oregon went three-and-out once, punted from around midfield and turned it over on downs. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that it felt like both the UO offense and defense were playing well at the same time.
Thus ended one era of Oregon football, with another set to begin once Lanning's obligations with Georgia in the College Football Playoff are over. But before the new staff takes over, the Ducks who played Wednesday offered their appreciation for the coaches who stuck by them after Cristobal's departure and through the bowl game.
"I really appreciate them for staying, and I hope everybody else appreciates what they've done," Brown said. "Because they didn't have to. But I really think they stood on their word, really being there for us. That's special."