No. 16 Oregon seeks new beginning against Nevada

Field Level Media

September 03, 2019 at 8:34 am.

It was the best of endings. It was the worst of endings.

No. 16 Oregon’s challenge this week is to obliterate the final nine seconds of its season-opening 27-21 loss to Auburn from its memory bank.

Nevada, meanwhile, will attempt to ride the high of last week’s remarkable 34-31 comeback victory over Purdue into the Ducks’ home opener on Saturday afternoon in Eugene.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert passed for 242 yards and the Ducks had a 15-point lead in the second half, but now-No. 10 Auburn scored the final 21 points, with the winning touchdown coming on a 26-yard pass play from freshman quarterback Bo Nix with nine seconds remaining.

Nevada scored the final 20 points, beating the Boilermakers when freshman Brandon Talton made a 56-yard field goal as time expired. Talton, a walk-on, learned the day before the game that he won the job.

He was presented with a game ball — and a scholarship — in the winning locker room after making the longest kick by a freshman in Mountain West history.

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal told reporters it is “an insult to football” to say that the Ducks gave the Auburn game away.

“We played hard, and for a good chunk of the game we had our opportunities … and opportunities to close it out,” Cristobal said. “When you don’t, you look yourself in the mirror and you take it as a team, as coaches and players. We didn’t finish the game.”

On their final possessions, the Ducks punted four times and were stopped on fourth-and-1 after Darrian Felix’s 6-yard touchdown run gave them a 21-6 lead with 9:23 remaining in the third quarter.

Herbert was forced to leave the game in the fourth quarter after being helped off the field when he knocked knees with a defender, bringing up the fourth-and-1, and the Ducks used two timeouts before failing to convert with 5:30 left.

“I did not feel comfortable that we were completely in-tune with what the play needed to be,” Cristobal said of the reason for the second timeout.

CJ Verdell led the Ducks with 76 yards rushing, but they were able to generate only 90 yards on the ground. Herbert was sacked three times. Auburn had 383 yards total offense, 206 rushing.

Ducks tight end/slot receiver Spencer Webb caught Herbert’s 20-yard touchdown pass, winning a 50-50 ball in the end zone. Said Cristobal: “We’ll expand his role.”

Herbert has thrown a touchdown pass in 29 consecutive games, the longest streak in the FBS.

“One of the best quarterbacks in the country,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell told reporters. “We’ve got to get to him and pressure him.”

Nevada redshirt freshman quarterback Carson Strong made his debut one to remember, completing 30 of 51 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. His 20-yard scoring pass to Elijah Cooks with 52 seconds left tied the game at 31, and a Purdue interception set up Talton’s winner. Purdue had five turnovers to Reno’s none.

“Now we’ve got to re-load and re-set our mind and get ready for Oregon,” Strong told reporters.

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