No. 4 Oregon rallies to beat No. 9 Stanford 52-31By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer Oct 3, 1:25 am EDT
EUGENE, Ore. (AP)—Swarmed by fans after he led No. 4 Oregon to victory over No. 9 Stanford, Darron Thomas surveyed the chaotic scene and quietly smiled.
“We did a good job,” he said simply when a reveler congratulated him.
Thomas contributed in a big way by throwing for 238 yards and three touchdowns, and running for 117 yards and another score in Oregon’s come-from-behind 52-31 win.
His calm in the storm of the postgame celebration was typical of the sophomore quarterback, who never seems to get rattled.
“Coach just preached finishing,” he said. “So we came out and finished.”
The Ducks (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10) fell behind 21-3 in the first quarter of the frenzied game, but forced two crucial turnovers and held the Cardinal scoreless in the second half. LaMichael James ran for a career-high 257 yards and three touchdowns.
It was Oregon’s 13th straight win at Autzen Stadium and 10th consecutive Pac-10 victory.
The Cardinal (4-1, 1-1) have not won a game while ranked in the top 10 since 1970.
Saturday’s game was the first time Oregon and Stanford have faced each other as ranked teams. The Cardinal have not started a season 5-0 since 1951, when they won the Pacific Coast Conference and a Rose Bowl berth.
The game lived up to the hype as a battle of offenses. Oregon, averaging 560 yards of total offense going into the game, had 626 yards. The Cardinal had 518.
Thomas completed 20-of-29 passes, and while he was intercepted twice, Oregon coach Chip Kelly said the key was that Thomas wasn’t unnerved by it all.
“He’s everything you want in a quarterback,” Kelly said.
Stanford’s Andrew Luck was 29 of 46 for 241 yards and two scores. He was also intercepted twice.
Oregon tied it at 31 with 8:20 to go in the third quarter on Thomas’ 6-yard keeper and the momentum shifted to the Ducks.
Midway through the quarter, Luck found receiver Chris Owusu for a 6-yard completion at midfield, but he fumbled after a hard hit by Oregon’s Javes Lewis. Eddie Pleasant scooped up the ball and returned it to the 3-yard line, and James ran it in from there for Oregon’s first lead of the game.
Owusu jogged off the field after the hit, but did not return to the game. On Stanford’s first drive of the next series, Luck was intercepted by Cliff Harris and Oregon cruised from there.
“I’m proud of my guys, very proud of them, and we’ll keep our heads up, and we’ll come back next week,” Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Wasn’t our day today.”
Stanford went up 14-3 in the first quarter after Oregon kickoff returner Cliff Harris fumbled. That led to Luck’s 10-yard scoring run. After another Oregon turnover, this time an interception, Stephan Taylor ran 44 yards for a score with 1:08 left in the quarter.
Oregon got back in the game with Thomas’ 29-yard scoring pass to Jeff Maehl. The Ducks followed with an onside kick that was recovered by kicker Rob Beard, and James went on to score on a 5-yard run to make it 21-17.
Luck hit a wide-open Coby Fleener with a 36-yard touchdown pass to go back up 28-17 midway through the second quarter.
Thomas passed to John Huff for a 41-yard score to narrow it again for Oregon before Nate Whitaker’s 46-yard field goal as time ran out in the first half gave Stanford a 31-24 lead.
“We were kind of jittery at the beginning of the game,” Thomas said, “but once we got comfortable we started running our plays and it was back to regular football.”
Kelly was visibly angry with the officiating in the first half, telling the television crew at halftime that he felt the officials were not communicating with him. Ducks fans booed the refs as they left the field at the break.
Kelly insisted afterward that the victory—which could vault the Ducks ahead of Boise State in the polls—was no more important than any other win.
“I told our guys at halftime, what an exciting game to be involved in,” Kelly said. “Now let’s go out and finish.”
James, a sophomore who is getting some Heisman mention, ran for a career-best, 76-yard touchdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. A fan in the student section lofted a sign that said “LaHeisman.”
“Can’t take anything away from Stanford. That’s a great football team. They’re physical. We were faced with adversity,” James said. “It’s really about how you overcome adversity. Tonight we overcame it.”
Stanford had twice upset Oregon when the Ducks were in the top 10.
Last season Toby Gerhart ran for a school-record 223 yards and Luck threw for 251 yards and two scores in Stanford’s 51-42 victory over the then-No. 7 Ducks.
In 2001, Stanford won 49-42 in Eugene for the then-No. 5 Ducks’ lone loss of the season.