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Ducks drill Wolf Pack
by Anne Peterson - Associated Press
Sep 10, 2011 | 775 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Nevada QB Tyler Lantrip (16) scrambles away from the Ducks defense.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Nevada QB Tyler Lantrip (16) scrambles away from the Ducks defense.
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EUGENE, Ore. — There’s no doubting the Thomases at Oregon.

Darron Thomas matched a school record with six touchdown passes and the 13th-ranked Ducks rebounded from their season-opening loss to beat Nevada 69-20 on Saturday.

True freshman De’Anthony Thomas, no relation to his quarterback, caught two passes — both for touchdowns.

“I came out this game really determined to not let the last game happen,” Darron Thomas said.

Oregon (1-1) was ranked No. 3 in the country until that loss to then-No. 4 LSU last week at Cowboys Stadium sent the Ducks tumbling in the rankings and left many wondering how they would respond.

Oregon’s speedy spread option got back on track and racked up 603 yards in total offense against the Wolf Pack, 272 on the ground and 331 in the air.

LaMichael James ran for just 67 yards and a touchdown, but he also caught a long scoring pass from Thomas and returned a punt for a score to help the Ducks (1-1) to their 17th straight victory at Autzen Stadium.

“I knew everybody was looking to see how we’d bounce back,” Darron Thomas said.

Tyler Lantrip, a fifth-year senior making his first career start, completed 21 of 35 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown for Nevada, which was playing its season opener.

The loss snapped Nevada’s seven-game winning streak, which dated to last season when the Wolf Pack went 13-1 and were ranked No. 11 to end the season.

Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault looked both angry and exhausted after the game.

“To make it that easy for somebody?” he asked. “No, that’s unacceptable.”

After facing unrelenting pressure in a 40-27 loss to LSU, Darron Thomas was controlled and confident, completing 13 of 19 passes for 295 yards. He was replaced late in the third quarter by backup Bryan Bennett.

The six TD tosses matched the single-game school record set twice by Joey Harrington and once by Danny O’Neil.

Oregon built a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. Darron Thomas immediately answered the critics who questioned why he didn’t run more against LSU by sprinting for a 26-yard gain on Oregon’s first drive. James punched it in 4 yards for the score, but the 2-point try didn’t work.

Nevada got within field-goal range later in the quarter, but Anthony Martinez’s 38-yard attempt was blocked by John Boyett. Oregon’s ensuing series was highlighted by De’Anthony Thomas’ 62-yard dash and capped by Darron Thomas’ 3-yard scoring pass to Lavasier Tuinei.

Troy Hill intercepted Lantrip’s pass on the Oregon 11 and ran it back 45 yards before Darron Thomas hit James with a 44-yard pass to make it 20-0.

Darron Thomas also found Rahsaan Vaughn with a 25-yard scoring pass and freshman tight end Colt Lyerla with a 20-yard TD strike.

Nevada scored with 1:52 left in the half on Lantrip’s 5-yard pass to Mike Ball, but the Ducks quickly answered with Darron Thomas’ 24-yard scoring pass to De’Anthony Thomas to make it 41-7 at the break.

Lantrip is taking over at quarterback for Nevada this season after the storied career of four-year starter Colin Kaepernick, a second-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in this year’s NFL draft.

Lantrip had thrown just 23 career passes going into the game at notoriously loud Autzen Stadium. He was intercepted twice by the Ducks.

“We just made some mistakes that regardless of whether it was our first game or our last game, we shouldn’t have made,” he said.

Oregon opened the second half with James’ 58-yard punt return to make it 48-7.

James, a Heisman finalist who averaged more than 144 yards rushing last season, was held to 54 yards by LSU last weekend. Against Nevada he showed his versatility, helping out on punt returns in the absence of fellow running back Kenjon Barner, who did not play because of an ankle injury sustained against LSU.

Nevada’s Stephon Jefferson had a 1-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to make it 48-13.

On the next series, Darron Thomas hit De’Anthony Thomas with another touchdown pass, this time a 69-yarder.

Nevada’s Cody Fajardo ran 7 yards for a score to make it 55-20 midway through the fourth quarter, but Oregon redshirt freshman Ayele Forde added a 26-yard scoring run with 2:24 left and Boseko Lokombo’s 67-yard interception return with 20 seconds left provided the final margin.

De’Anthony Thomas, a highly recruited running back out of Crenshaw High School in Southern California, had a couple of costly fumbles in the opener against LSU that he felt he had to rebound from against the Wolf Pack.

“I’ve been working hard all week,” he said. “Just hold the ball high and tight. High and tight.”

De’Anthony Thomas ran for 81 yards, and he had 93 yards receiving on those two touchdown catches.

The loss was costly for Nevada, which lost starting tight end Zack Sudfeld to an injury in the third quarter. Following the game Ault said that Sudfeld, a senior, had broken his leg and would likely miss the rest of the season.

Oregon reinstated linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback/kick returner Cliff Harris for the game. Both had been suspended indefinitely after offseason offenses.

Alonso was reinstated for the game by coach Chip Kelly on Friday. The senior was suspended in May after an alcohol-related offense.

Harris, an All-American who broke up 23 passes last season and averaged 18.8 yards per punt return, was reinstated just before Saturday’s game. His suspension came after he was cited for driving 118 mph with a suspended license in June.

The Ducks lead the all-time series against Nevada 6-1.

Oregon has not dropped a home opener since 2004.
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