EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Oregon running back Royce Freeman said the Ducks have two choices following the season’s third loss.
“You can go downhill and just give up, or you can get back together and focus,” Freeman said. “We’ll see what this team’s identity is when we get back Monday.”
Freeman ran for a career-high 246 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a TD pass, but Oregon fell to Washington State 45-38 in double overtime on Saturday. Cougars quarterback Luke Falk threw for 505 yards and five touchdowns.
The victory snapped Washington State’s eight-game losing streak to the Ducks.
Oregon, with losses to Michigan State and Utah this season, has lost consecutive games at home for the first time since 2002.
Knotted at 38, an unnecessary roughness foul on the Ducks helped the Cougars in the second OT. Falk threw to River Cracraft who was tackled at the goal line and the ball popped into the hands of Robert Lewis for a 4-yard touchdown.
The play stood on review, and Oregon’s subsequent drive ended in an interception - sending the Cougars rushing onto the field in celebration.
“Their offense just came on stronger than we anticipated, and they just made plays,” said Charles Nelson, who played at safety, wide receiver and on special teams against the Cougars.
Falk had marched Washington State (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) downfield in the final two minutes of regulation, capping the drive with an 8-yard pass to tie the game at 31 and send it to overtime.
Jeff Lockie hit Bralon Addison with a 9-yard touchdown pass for the Ducks (3-3, 1-2) on the opening possession of the extra period. The Cougars answered with Falk’s close 1-yard keeper that again tied the score.
Vernon Adams Jr., who was named Oregon’s starting QB just prior to the beginning of the season, broke the index finger on his throwing hand in the Ducks’ opener against his former team, Eastern Washington. A standout for the Eagles for the last three seasons, Adams transferred to Oregon for his year of eligibility.
In his place, both Lockie and sophomore Taylor Alie rotated. Lockie shouldered most of the load, throwing for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Both QBs leaned on Freeman, just as they had in last week’s 41-24 victory at Colorado when he ran for 163 yards and two scores. Freeman ran for 135 yards and a touchdown against Washington State in the first half alone.
Falk threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Marks on Washington State’s first series of the game. Marks has been seeing a lot of action in coach Mike Leach’s offense, going into the game with an average of 91 yards receiving per game, and leading the Pac-12 with an average of 8.3 catches per game.
He finished with eight catches for 111 yards against the Ducks.
Oregon was ranked 114th in the nation for passing yards allowed going into the game, allowing an average of 287.2 yards a game.
Oregon’s initial drive ended with a 26-yard field goal from Aidan Schneider. The Ducks switched to Alie midway through its second series, and he ran 8 yards for a touchdown to give Oregon a 9-3 lead.
After Freeman’s 2-yard touchdown run, Falk hit Marks again with a 4-yard scoring pass just before the break to cut Oregon’s margin to 17-14 at halftime.
Falk gave the Cougars a 21-17 lead early in the third quarter with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tavares Martin. But Freeman caught a 17-year scoring pass from Lockie that put the Ducks back in front 24-21. He added a 1-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter.
Erik Powell added a 22-yard field goal for the Cougars before Falk’s game-tying drive.
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