September 11, 2010

Ducks dash to wet win in Knoxville

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Never did a snippet from a children's story seem more appropriate for an Oregon Ducks team that left a dreary, soggy Neyland Stadium field in Knoxville with a 48-13 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night.

That rhyme is from Dr. Seuss' "Oh, the places you'll go," and if the Ducks are going to get where they want to go, a win such as this is a must.

In the first meeting between Oregon (2-0) and Tennessee (1-1), and the Ducks' first game against an SEC opponent since the season opener in 2003, Oregon was able to prevail in a contest in which it seemingly did not play its best football in the first half.

After being relatively lucky to head to the locker room at halftime tied 13-13, it was a pair of 70-plus-yard plays just three minutes, 43 seconds apart in the third quarter that proved to be the difference for the Ducks.

Limited to 27 yards on eight carries in the first half, sophomore LaMichael James reversed field en route to a spectacular 72-yard run for a touchdown four minutes, 50 seconds into the third quarter. The dash, which showcased James' ability to break tackles and break away from defenders once he gets in open space, was the longest run of his career.

If James' show-stopping touchdown gallop ignited the Ducks, cornerback Cliff Harris' snatch of Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms' pass with 6:27 remaining in the third sent them on their way to a win. Harris went untouched 76 yards for a touchdown, giving Oregon a 27-13 lead.

The Ducks stumbled out of the gates. After giving up a field goal on Tennessee's first possession, sophomore Kenjon Barner lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Another Volunteers' field goal followed, and then lightning struck -- literally. Well, at least it was close enough to the stadium that the referees called the teams off the field with 8:53 left in the first quarter.

The delay lasted one hour, 10 minutes and was the first in-game delay at Neyland Stadium in quite some time.

Barner made up for his first-quarter fumbling gaffe, and then some. The Oregon running back put the win on ice with an 80-yard sprint for a touchdown on a punt return early in the fourth.

James finished the night with 134 yards on 16 carries, while quarterback Darron Thomas went 17-for-32 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore signal-caller was sacked just once and did not throw an interception. Thomas added 34 yards on the ground.

Junior tight end David Paulson hauled in a 27-yard pass for a touchdown with 1:04 remaining in the first half, while junior wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei added a 29-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter.

Remene Alston's 2-yard touchdown run capped the scoring and capped off a run of 45 unanswered Oregon points.

Notes: Sophomore kicker Rob Beard went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, converting from 37 yards in the first quarter and from 42 yards in the second, and 6-for-6 on PATs for a total of 12 points. ... Due to a turnover and the weather delay, Oregon's first play from scrimmage came at 8:32 p.m. ET. ... Sophomore Jackson Rice booted the Ducks' first punt of the season with 7:10 remaining in the first quarter. ... Tennessee tailback Tauren Poole rushed for 162 yards in the game, including 111 in the first quarter. ... The attendance at Neyland Stadium was 102,035.



 

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