SEATTLE — Oregon’s fight song played at Husky Stadium.
After the final, inconsequential seconds ticked off the Ducks’ 35-31 victory over Washington, Oregon’s players jogged and jumped and skipped toward the corner of the stadium that was decked out in green and yellow. Their band played. Their fans cheered. Inside linebacker Troy Dye dropped to his back on the Huskies’ midfield logo and made a mock snow angel.
Meanwhile, the Huskies lingered around the field, stone-faced and quiet. Some of them shared hugs and handshakes with opposing players before filtering off toward the tunnel to try and figure out what exactly went wrong.
At halftime, UW had a 21-14 lead. Then the Huskies scored on their first drive of the third quarter on a 33-yard pass from quarterback Jacob Eason to freshman wide receiver Puka Nacua. The score was 28-14, and UW looked well on its way to handing Oregon its first Pac-12 loss.
But that was the last touchdown the Huskies would score. And the Ducks? They added three more. The last one — a 5-yard pass from quarterback Justin Herbert to Jaylon Redd with 5:10 remaining in the fourth quarter — was the game-winner.
The Huskies got the ball back after that. They had a chance to salvage a win. But after Eason was sacked and UW was called for a false start, the Huskies were facing a third-and-23. Eason completed a pass to Marquis Spiker for 20 yards, bringing up fourth-and-3. After a timeout, Eason targeted Nacua, but the ball missed his outstretched hands as he was hit by an Oregon defender, prompting demands for a pass interference call that never came. On the television broadcast, a rules analyst said interference should have been called. Washington head coach Chris Petersen seemed to agree.
“What did it look like to you guys? You guys got a better vantage than me,” Petersen said. “I think we know.”
At halftime, UW had 235 total yards and 21 points. In the second half, the Huskies managed just 10 points and 179 yards. They didn’t score in the fourth quarter and recorded just 52 yards.
“It’s pretty frustrating given the fact we were playing pretty well on offense,” Washington center Nick Harris said.
Oregon’s trend was reversed. The Ducks scored 21 points after the break and put up 227 yards. Herbert, who entered halftime having completed 14-of-24 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns, finished the game 24-of-38 for 280 yards and four touchdowns.
“We talk about the harder it gets the better we play and that showed up in the second half,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said.
Oregon scored the first touchdown of the game on its opening drive. Herbert completed 6-of-6 passes as the Ducks went 75 yards in 12 plays. The Ducks were aided by a few UW mistakes — on second down, linebacker Ariel Ngata missed a tackle on Herbert on a bad snap before freshman safety Asa Turner hit him as he was sliding — to keep the drive alive. The end result was a 12-yard pass from Herbert to Spencer Webb that put Oregon up 7-0.
At first, UW struggled to respond. The Huskies gained 12 yards on their first possession as the drive stalled at their 37-yard line. But then UW’s defense locked in, suffocating the Ducks and forcing a three-and-out. The offense took advantage of the opportunity as Eason led a 13-play, 52-yard drive capped by a 9-yard TD run from Salvon Ahmed.
After the defense held Oregon to another three-and-out, Eason hit an unlikely target with a perfectly placed 48-yard touchdown pass. Junior wide receiver Jordan Chin had just two career receptions entering the game against the Ducks. His third put UW ahead 14-7.
Oregon then tied the game 14-14 with 2:59 left in the first half on a 16-yard pass from Herbert to Redd.
But UW had just enough time to respond. The Huskies drove the field, going 75 yards in eight plays on a possession highlighted by tight end Hunter Bryant’s diving 27-yard reception. Wide receiver Andre Baccellia then went 5 yards for the touchdown, staying on his feet even after a stumble.
Oregon took over with 52 seconds left before halftime, making it to the Huskies’ 34-yard line before the clock expired. UW went into the break with a 21-14 lead. After the Ducks’ first drive, Herbert completed 8-of-18 passes 105 yards the rest of the first half.
Eason, a Lake Stevens alum, finished 23-of-30 for 289 yards and three touchdowns while Ahmed rushed for 146 yards on 24 carries. Bryant caught three passes for 65 yards.
Washington was without second-leading rusher Sean McGrew for “health reasons,” according to the school. McGrew rushed for 106 yards in the win over Arizona and had 110 yards earlier this season against BYU. Washington was already without Richard Newton (foot).
Washington also played the majority of the game without leading receiver Aaron Fuller, who was in briefly in the first quarter and never returned. Petersen said Fuller was banged up. Washington receiver Chico McClatcher, who has suffered several leg injuries in his career, limped off the field after being tackled awkwardly on a screen pass in the third quarter.