Facing fourth-and-one at the Oregon 26-yard line in the fourth quarter of a 24-24 tie, Washington bypassed a 43-yard field goal attempt to go for a quarterback sneak.
Before Jake Browning could try to move the line forward, the ball was on the ground.
“I came off the edge and I just saw the ball,” Oregon defensive end Jalen Jelks recalled after the 17th-ranked Ducks finished off a 30-27 overtime win over seventh-ranked Washington on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. “I put a forearm into somebody, I don’t know who, just to make sure that they went backwards. That was the last thing I remember.”
Browning picked up the ball before being pushed down by Justin Hollins for a three-yard loss with 10:02 left in the fourth quarter.
“I saw the ball come out and said ‘How did he pick it up again?’” UO coach Mario Cristobal said. “Obviously, watching and hearing the rest of that right there, they were able to get him down. That was a huge play, a huge momentum swing for us.”
Oregon drove down to the UW 36-yard line before it was forced to punt the ball back to the Huskies. Washington drove 72 yards to the Oregon 20-yard line before Peyton Henry missed a 37-yard field goal attempt to send the game into overtime.
Washington’s first play in overtime was a 19-yard run by Kamari Pleasant to give the Huskies first-and-goal at the 6-yard line. Pleasant got three yards on the next play before Sean McGrew was stopped for no gain and Browning threw an incomplete pass to bring out Henry for a 22-yard field goal that gave UW a 27-24 lead.
“After they were able to pop that run on first down, to go down and hold them and force a field goal was a phenomenal job by our defense,” Cristobal said. “That gave us the opportunity to go in there and be aggressive and have a chance to win that game and score a touchdown, which we did.”
The defense was done for the game after Oregon’s CJ Verdell scored on a 6-yard run to lift the Ducks to the victory.
“It was a big roller-coaster, honestly,” Jelks said. “We practice playing in games like this so we knew what we had to do to execute like we did.”
Oregon’s defensive line played without Drayton Carlberg for the final three quarters after he was ejected for targeting on a sack of Browning.
“That ejection was tough to swallow,” Cristobal said. “But honestly, we say before we walk out of the locker room that there is no penalty, no injury, no tough play, or circumstance or situation we cannot overcome because of our resolve and training. Right away that hit in a hurry and caught everyone off guard, but nobody flinched.”
Browning was 15-for-25 for 243 yards and a touchdown but only found Aaron Fuller two times for 15 yards. Fuller entered the game fourth in the conference with 35 catches for 574 yards and two scores.
Oregon sophomore cornerback Deommodore Lenoir said he and Thomas Graham read a story that questioned their ability to cover Fuller.
“It started with an ESPN article that came out targeting me and Thomas,” Lenoir explained. “We played with a chip on our shoulder and said we had to go out there and play well.”
UW running back Myles Gaskin, who totaled 51 carries for 475 yards and three touchdowns in his previous three games against the Ducks, battled injuries while running 15 times for 69 yards. Salvon Ahmed added 61 yards on 11 carries as the Huskies finished with 194 on the ground with an average of 4.3 per carry.
“Coaches talked all week about setting the edge,” Jelks said. “Make sure you set the edge to make them fall back and dance around so people can rally to the ball. I felt like we did a pretty good job. A couple plays we could have shut down better, but I love to see the defense eat like that.”