Ryan Nall Wrecks Oregon
Oregon State ended their season in a wet but winning way Saturday in the 120th Civil War, coming from behind to beat Oregon 34-24. The win, and the weather that was a factor in the win, also doused an 8 game losing streak in the Civil War by the Beavers, avoiding what would have been the longest losing streak in the history of the war.
And they did it riding the “Wrecking Nall”. Sophomore RB Ryan Nall, who had a breakout performance in a losing effort in last year’s Civil War, took over the final third of the game, doing most of the work in turning a 10 point deficit into a 10 point win.
Nall had gotten Oregon State off to a good start, with the game’s first touchdown on a 12 yard run not 6 minutes into the game, but Oregon answered, with a 3 yard scoring run by Tony Brooks-James that capped a 10 play, 75 yard drive.
The Ducks jumped ahead 14-7 on a neat 33 yard receiver pass from Jalen Brown to Darren Carrington, but the Beavers tied it up again, when the Oregon defense lost track of H-back Ricky Ortiz leaking out of the backfield, and Marcus McMaryion tossed him an uncontested 6 yard touchdown, below, and the 14 apiece tie lasted into halftime.
Oregon appeared to have taken control in the third quarter, taking a 10 point lead on a 23 yard touchdown pass from Justin Herbert, below, to Charles Nelson, and a 46 yard field goal by Aidan Schneider.
And while Nall would wind up the star of the game, ultimately piling up 155 yards on 31 carries, and 34 more on a pair of catches, Oregon’s Royce Freeman had a strong day too, rolling up 106 yards on 19 carries, with 3 additional catches for 33 more yards.
Freeman, above, was integral to the Duck’s getting the upper hand to that point.
Despite forecasts to the contrary, the game had been played in surprisingly pleasant weather for post-Thanksgiving to that point, but then the weatherman was proven right. In a matter of minutes, a deluge with high winds blew into Reser from the coast range, and conditions quickly became not only miserable, but borderline unplayable at times, at least for today’s airborne offenses. I’ve enjoyed some Oregon State losses more than I did the last 25 minutes of the game, even considering the eventual outcome.
But sometimes football is not meant to be pleasant. And Oregon State was well positioned for success in those unpleasant conditions, with 3 senior linemen in Sean Harlow, Gavin Andrews, and Dustin Stanton, and the 240 lb. Nall behind them.
Oregon State proceeded to drive 75 yards in just under 4 minutes, on 7 plays, all but one of which were runs. Half of them by Nall, including the 14 yard touchdown that capped the series.
The Beavers’ next possession resulted in an 11 play, 80 yard march that took just over 6 1/2 minutes. All of the plays were runs, 7 by Nall, including the 6 yard go-ahead touchdown, left.
And then Oregon State put together another 9 play, 68 yard drive that took over 5 minutes of 4th quarter time away from Oregon. Nall ran the ball 6 straight times, before Artavis Pierce spelled him for a pair of carries, but Nall then returned to pound his way in for the last 2 yards, and the last score of the game.
Interspersed between Oregon State’s 3 grind it out scoring drives were Oregon possessions that produced a 3 and punt and a 5 and punt. Snap difficulty with the wet ball was a factor multiple times,
The Ducks weren’t done though, and Herbert kept hope alive with a 26 yard completion to Carrington as the clock wound down under 2 minutes to go. But Oregon’s comeback hopes came to an end on another 4th down play, when a wide open Johnny Mundt dropped Herbert’s pass in the end zone on 4th and 13 a minute later.
Mundt was so open I was already getting ready for the on-side kick to ensue that would decide the game with the ball not yet out of Herbert’s hand. But I have seen game outcome altering passes that hit a receiver in the hands dropped in the 4th quarter of important games played this time of the year before.
Nall dominated the game, but the job the Oregon State offensive line did to open running lanes made at least some of the runs easy.
McMaryion, above, was not nearly as sharp as last week, but did wind up completing 65% of his passes, connecting on 13 of 20, for 101 yards and a score.
And he also ran the ball effectively, picking up 81 yards on 11 carries, including a 33 yard run that was Oregon State’s longest play of the day.
Herbert hit on 16 of 28 passes for Oregon, for 180 yards, with catches by 4 different Ducks for plays of more than 20 yards.
Carrington’s 76 yards were the game high, and his 33 yard catch the longest reception of the game.
Both Oregon and Oregon State finished their season 4-8, and with no hope of even a back-door bowl invite via the 5-7 loophole, but the Beavers finished 4th in the Pac-12 North, with a 3-6 record, and the tiebreaker win over California, while the Ducks wound up 6th and last in the division, with a 2-7 conference campaign. It was Oregon’s worst season in 25 years.
It was double the wins from last year, Coach Gary Andersen’s first, and more than the 3 the year before, in Mike Riley’s last season.
Cue the Fight Song!
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)