QB Herbert’s return sparks Oregon in win over Arizona
What a difference Justin Herbert makes.
After missing the previous five games with a fractured collarbone, Herbert returned in a big way to lead Oregon to a 48-28 victory over Arizona on Saturday night in Eugene, Ore.
With the win, the Ducks are bowl eligible in coach Willie Taggart’s first year.
The Ducks’ passing offense was completely nonexistent in the five games that Herbert missed as Oregon threw six interceptions and totaled 320 yards through the air.
Herbert threw for 235 yards on 14-of-19 passing and one touchdown against Arizona, and he added 40 yards on the ground and a score.
Running back Royce Freeman also enjoyed having Herbert back. The mere threat of Herbert throwing the ball opened running lanes for Freeman,- who finished with 135 yards on 19 carries and four scores.
Tony Brooks-James added 124 yards rushing as Oregon finished with 355 yards rushing and five scores on the ground.
The game was close after three quarters, with Oregon leading 35-28 after Arizona’s Zach Green ran for a 2-yard touchdown.
The Ducks broke the game open to begin the fourth quarter when kicker Aidan Schneider drilled a 40-yard field goal (2-for-3 in the game) on the first play. Freeman then put the game out of reach when he scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game - from one yard out - making the score 45-28 with 13:54 to play.
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate came into the game with all sorts of hype as a dual-threat playmaker. Oregon’s defense limited him to 32 yards rushing and 159 yards passing and two interceptions.
Wildcats running back Nick Wilson finished with 73 rushing yards and two scores.
It was an entertaining and chippy first half as the teams combined for 49 points, 465 total yards and 12 penalties for 139 yards.
The Wildcats struck first with a Wilson touchdown run before the Ducks scored 14 straight points to take a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Arizona responded with back-to-back touchdowns midway through the second quarter as Wilson ran for his second score and Tate completed a scoring pass to Tony Ellison.
Oregon regained momentum by scoring the final 14 points of the quarter for the 28-21 lead at the break. Herbert connected with tight end Jacob Breeland for a 39-yard score before Freeman rushed for a 28-yard score just before the half.
Arizona, which entered the game third in the nation in rushing (347.7 yards per game), was held to 167 yards rushing and 330 yards overall. Meanwhile, the Ducks gained 590 total yards.
Oregon hosts Oregon State next week in the Civil War. Arizona finishes its regular season with a matchup against rival Arizona State.