University of Oregon clinches 31-24 win over Fresno State in season opener

Anthony Brown scored on a 30-yard quarterback with 2:57 left to play and the No.11 Oregon Ducks overcame a wobbly first game with a 31-24 victory over Fresno State on Saturday.

Oregon took a 21-6 lead, but Fresno State scored two unanswered touchdowns to tie the game midway through the third quarter, then took the lead early in the fourth on Abraham Montano’s field goal.

A salvage fumble gave Oregon the ball at Fresno State 32, but the Ducks settled for Camden Lewis’ 25-yard field goal to tie him before Brown’s touchdown.

Oregon running back CJ Verdell (7) celebrates his touchdown in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Fresno State on Saturday, September 4, 2021, in Eugene.

Andy Nelson / AP

Brown threw for 172 yards and a touchdown while running for 62 yards and the game winner. It was Oregon’s 17th consecutive home win.

Brown, a sixth-year senior, transferred to Oregon last year from Boston College, but was Tyler Shough’s replacement until he got some playing time in the Pac- title game. 12 and the Fiesta Bowl. Shough transferred to Texas Tech during the offseason.

The Ducks were injured by the loss of defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who left the game at half-time with a left ankle injury.

Oregon had not played a game at Autzen Stadium in 644 days, and the game came amid an increase in coronavirus cases in the state.

Oregon and the state of Oregon were among the first schools to require proof of vaccination or a negative viral test to attend football games. Governor Kate Brown has also imposed a mask warrant, even at outdoor events.

The game was also marred by the smoky conditions caused by the forest fires in the area. The air quality was rated unhealthy in the Eugene region by the American Air Quality Index.

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener threw for 285 yards and a touchdown. The Bulldogs (1-1) have already started the season with a 45-0 win over Connecticut.

After Thibodeaux sacked Haener and groped him for a turnover, CJ Verdell ran for a 2-yard touchdown to give the Ducks the lead.

Another fumble from Fresno State led to a 4-yard drive from Travis Dye to make it 14-0. The Verdell and Dye duo entered the game with a total of 4,363 rushing yards, most of any pair returning to the FBS level.

Thibodeaux, widely regarded as a possible candidate for the Heisman Trophy this season, appeared to hurt his left ankle but got him taped on the sidelines and came back before the end of the first half. He came out of the break in street clothes and put on a boot.

Montano kicked a pair of baskets, 33 and 39 yards, before Brown found Johnny Johnson III in the end zone with a 32-yard pass to make it 21-6. Jalen Cropper caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Haener to close the lead for Fresno State to 21-13 just before halftime.

The Ducks returned the ball on the downs at 4 and 2, and on the drive that followed, a pass interference call brought the Bulldogs closer. Haener scored from two yards on a goalkeeper and the conversion tied the score at 21.

Montano’s 22-yard field goal with 13:03 to go gave the Bulldogs a 24-21 lead. Lewis’ equalizer came with 7:41 to go.

Oregon went 4-3 overall last season amid the pandemic. The Ducks beat USC 31-28 in the Pac-12 Championship game and went on to play in the Fiesta Bowl, losing to Iowa State 34-17.

Take it away

Fresno State: Fresno State hasn’t played against a ranked opponent since 2018.… The Bulldogs are celebrating their 100th anniversary of football this season.

Oregon: Senior linebacker Dru Mathis left the game in the first half with what appeared to be a left knee injury. … Oregon leads the series against Fresno State 7-2. The Bulldogs haven’t taken down the Ducks since 1982.


Fresno State is hosting Cal Poly next Saturday.

The Ducks travel to No.4 Ohio State on Saturday.

More AP College Football: and—Top25

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