29 - 48 Final
  for this game

One step closer: Ducks pull away from Arizona to stay unbeaten

Nov 27, 2010 - 7:51 AM Eugene, OR (Sports Network) - Darron Thomas threw for three touchdowns and ran in another, and the Oregon Ducks showed why they are the top-ranked team in the country in the second half of a 48-29 win over No. 20 Arizona.

Oregon (11-0, 8-0 Pac-10) trailed at halftime before scoring five touchdowns in the final 30 minutes to secure the Pac-10 title for the second consecutive year.

The unheralded Thomas shook off an early interception and completed 14-of-24 passes for 148 yards while gaining 62 yards for a ground game that amassed 389 yards. Heisman Trophy hopeful LaMichael James added 126 yards and two scores on 28 carries for the Ducks, winners of 16 straight at Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks, the No. 1 team in the BCS standings for the past four weeks, can wrap up a trip to the national championship game with a win at Oregon State next Saturday.

"Oregon State is going to be a big test, the Civil War," Thomas said looking ahead. "We'll be mentally prepared for a big game. I know Oregon State is going to come out and try to stop us from accomplishing our goal."

Nick Foles started strong but failed to move the chains with consistency, throwing for 448 yards with three touchdowns and an interception on 29-of-54 efficiency in the Wildcats' (7-4, 4-4) third straight loss.

Oregon trailed only once at halftime prior to Saturday, erasing Stanford's 31-24 lead with 28 unanswered points in the second half to pull out the win against the then ninth-ranked team in the country on October 2.

Arizona controlled the time of possession in the first half and the Ducks again found themselves down at the break, 19-14, but it didn't take long for them to turn things around.

Arizona went three-and-out on the second half's opening possession, and the hosts took the lead on the second play of the next series.

Freshman receiver Josh Huff took an option pitch to the left, used terrific blocks from his receivers and sprinted 85 yards for the go-ahead score, the longest play from scrimmage this year for the quick-strike Ducks. The two- point conversion failed, keeping it 20-19.

The Ducks, who scored just one offensive touchdown in a 15-13 win over California their last time out, went 99 yards in 19 plays on their next touch after Arizona's Alex Zendejas pinned them at their own one-yard line with a pooch punt.

Huff's 13-yard reception on 3rd-and-8 from the three got the hosts out of the shadow of their own end zone, and Kenjon Barner moved the markers on 4th-and-1 near midfield later in the drive by barreling over Arizona linebacker Paul Vassallo after the initial hit occurred behind the line of scrimmage.

The trek was extended when Arizona defensive lineman Ricky Elmore went offsides on a 42-yard Rob Beard field goal try that went wide-right. The penalty gave the Ducks a first down, and two plays later Thomas took it himself on an option run for a 20-yard score with 4:44 remaining in the frame.

Zendejas brought Arizona within 27-22 via a 41-yard field goal two minutes later, but the Ducks crossed the goal line for the third time in the quarter shortly thereafter, as D.J. Davis hauled in Thomas' six-yard TD toss with 36 seconds showing.

Again the Wildcats failed to move the chains, and a short punt gave the Ducks the ball at the opposing 35 early in the fourth. Five plays later, James went in from 13 yards out for a commanding 41-22 cushion.

Mike Turner fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and James' one-yard plunge with 12:15 remaining in the game made it a rout.

"We tried to stay in it as long as we could. They put a lot of pressure on you with a lot of different plays with their offense, and we couldn't handle it in the second half," Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said. "We just had too many mistakes."

David Roberts was left open for a 32-yard touchdown reception a little later, just the second score the Ducks allowed in the fourth quarter this season.

The TD did little to deter the celebration, as the Ducks inched closer to playing for their first national championship.

"We came out at halftime and did what we pride ourselves on doing. It's about battling and playing until the end of the game," Oregon head coach Cip Kelly said. "We knew it would be a battle; it was an unbelievable football game. You're going to make mistakes, it's a battle, but you just have to play until the end. This team just knows it's not over until the final gun."

Thomas was picked off by Adam Hall at the Arizona 18 yard-line on the game's opening drive. The interception was returned 22 yards to the 40, where the Wildcats embarked on a 16-play march that chewed up nearly eight minutes and featured a fourth-down and four third-down conversions.

On 3rd-and-goal from the eight, Foles bought time with his legs and lobbed a pass to Juron Criner, who managed to get one foot in along the left sideline of the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 4:47 left in the first quarter.

The Ducks answered in four plays. On a play-action fake, David Paulson was left wide open down left side for an easy 38-yard TD grab.

Ducks cornerback Cliff Harris bit on a stop-and-go from Criner on the next play from scrimmage, and with no safety over the top, the receiver hauled in a deep pass for an 85-yard score.

Huff took the kickoff back to the Oregon 47, and the Ducks ran the ball nine consecutive times, the final time coming on Barner's two-yard gain on 4th- and-1 from the Arizona 8. Jeff Maehl then hauled in Thomas' pass in traffic to tie the game in the opening minute of the second quarter.

John Boyett thwarted Arizona's next possession with an interception at his own 10, but the Ducks went three-and-out and a long snap from the 17 went well over the punter's head and out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 10 minutes remaining in the half.

Arizona failed to capitalize on the free kick and had a fumble recovery negated due to a personal foul penalty on Hall on the ensuing touch. However, Vassallo stripped Barner later in the drive, and the Wildcats recovered at their own eight with 5 1/2 minutes left.

A balanced, time-consuming attack allowed the underdogs to add a 29-yard Zendejas field goal for a 19-14 halftime edge.

Game Notes

Four of Oregon's seven scoring drives lasted five plays or fewer, giving them 34-of-66 for the season...The Ducks have scored a school-record 555 points on the season (545 in 2008)...On his first TD, James broke LeGarrette Blount's single-season school record of 17 rushing scores...Maehl has a TD catch in nine straight games...Huff logged 103 yards on three carries, while Paulson led all Oregon receivers with 48 yards on three grabs...Nic Grigsby was held to 44 yards on 16 carries for Arizona, which had allowed 18.1 points per game coming in...Criner logged 109 yards on three catches, while Terrence Miller caught a game-high eight passes for 96 yards in defeat...Arizona is 2-7 against the No. 1 team, its last win coming against Washington in 1992.