Home College Football Stellar Defense Helps Oregon Upends Utah In The PAC-12 Championship

Stellar Defense Helps Oregon Upends Utah In The PAC-12 Championship

Oregon defense played lights out all game long ( Photo/ Jerry Kelly)

Levi Stadium-The 13th ranked Oregon Ducks came into their PAC 12 Championship game against the favored Utah Utes knowing just what they wanted to do.
Take the ball out of record-setting tailback Zack Moss’s hands.

Mission accomplished. Moss, Utah’s all-time leading rusher, Zack Moss ran the ball well (19-carries, 113 yards) but he was never really a factor in the game.

The Ducks offense had something to do with that reeling off the first twenty points of the game. Tailback CJ Verdell got the ball rolling with a 3-yard TD run at the minute mark of the first quarter.

The Ducks would lead 20-0 at the half before Utah made a game of it outscoring Oregon 15-3, in the 3rd quarter. Moss got the Utes on the board with a 24-yard touchdown reception.

The Ducks answered that with a field goal only to have Utah march right back down the field and score a TD with a two-point conversion to boot.

Photo Credit: Jerry Kelly

All of a sudden it was 23-15 Oregon at the end of the 3rd quarter and the Utes had life.

CJ Verdell dashed any hope of a Utah comeback when he busted through the Utes line and sprinted 70-yards for a back-breaking touchdown giving the Ducks a commanding 30-15 lead with 7-minutes left in the game.

Verdell would close out the scoring with his 3rd TD of the game, a 31-tard jaunt with 2:33 left in the game.

Verdell topped 1,000 yards on the season on the same field he accomplished the feat last season but no sweeter than tonight game.

Short, quick drives is how Oregon got down against Utah in this one. Of Oregon’s seven scoring drives (4TD’s, 3 field goals) only one drive took more than 4-minutes and that drive ended in a field goal.

Oregon QB Justin Herbert was a modest 14 of 26 (193-yards and a TD) with no picks. CJ Verdell had a game for the ages with 208-yards on the ground (18-carries) and 3TD’s.

Moss had 168 total yards from scrimmage and a TD while Utah QB Tyler Huntley finished with 193-yards passing, two TD’s but he was sacked 6-times by the Ducks D.

Oregon safety Brady Breeze led the Ducks D with 9-tackles and two plays that took the life out of Utah’s offense in the first half.

Photo Credit: Jerry Kelly

First Breeze burst through Utah’s line and made a stop in the Utes backfield on 4th and 1 from Oregon’s 29-yard line the first time Utah had the ball.

Then after Moss broke loose for his longest run of the night, a 42-yarder in the first quarter, Breeze picked off a long pass off in the end zone.

The Ducks were back in the fun zone just o her a Minute later when Herbert hit J. Johnson III on a 45-yd pitch and catch and the rout was on.

“Couldn’t be more proud of a group of men, I believe they outwork everybody,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “They are made of the right stuff. They’ve created a culture that is second to none. A night like tonight validates all their hard work. Certainly honored to represent the Pac-12 North and extremely excited about winning the Pac-12 Championship tonight.”

Up next: Oregon (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) is headed to the Rose Bowl to take on either Wisconsin or Penn State.