Brady Aiello had hoped to be hoisted in the air by his line mates.
Instead he was mauled in the end zone by the entire offense.
When a big man scores, it’s just too hard contain the excitement.
On a night when big plays were the norm and 11 different players scored touchdowns for Oregon, Aiello, 6-foot-7, 311-pound senior reserve right tackle, still found a way to steal the spotlight in the 77-6 win at Autzen Stadium on Saturday.
Aiello switched his uniform number from 66 to 82 and checked into the game in the second quarter with the Ducks on the Nevada goal line.
He positioned himself on the left side of the line, shed a defender after the snap of the ball and made his way across the end zone and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Justin Herbert, a player he has otherwise spent his career protecting on pass plays.
“They didn’t expect big 82 to be coming over running the over route,” Aiello said. “But I did and I caught it. I felt like I was wide open. I was just waiting for Herbie to look at me.”
Aiello said the play was put in before the Auburn game but he never expected to actually get the call.
“I think I was (Herbert’s) check-down option but I kind of knew the play was coming because it was a goal-line play,” Aiello said. “I was on the sideline like, ‘If it’s coming, I’m going to score a touchdown.’ I was just trying to speak it into existence and luckily it worked out.”
The throw from Herbert was a little low for Aiello, who described his route running ability as “sloppy but aggressive.” He was still able to reach down and make the catch with his hands, though replays show he also needed the crook of his right elbow to help secure the touchdown, which put the Ducks up 28-6 with 3:26 to play in the first half.
“We practiced the play but we didn’t practice the play with me actually catching the ball,” Aiello said. “So that was my first throw and I got lucky and caught the ball.”
Oregon’s tight ends where everywhere catching everything Saturday, despite playing without their projected starter as injured Cam McCormick missed his second game in row.
Counting Aiello, Oregon had four tight ends catch a touchdown pass and combine for seven receptions for 150 yards. A fifth tight end, Spencer Webb, who caught a touchdown pass against Auburn, has been moved to wide receiver and had a reception for four yards.
Jacob Breeland led the way with four grabs for 112 yards. His 66-yard score in the first quarter woke the Ducks up on offense and kickstarted the romp after a their first two drives stalled.
“We were just talking on the sideline, ‘Hey we gotta get going, we’re way better than this,’” Breeland said.
Hunter Kampmoyer’s only catch resulted in a 21-yard TD and Ryan Bay also had a 16-yard score on his only grab.
“They became such a big part of the passing game tonight and really opened up things for us and we’ve got to continue using them,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said of his tight ends. “They also blocked extremely well tonight.”
That’s the easy part for Aiello. Finding himself in the end zone, ball in hand and teammates celebrating his moment was a different feeling.
“Very jealous of him is what I am,” said Cristobal, an offensive lineman during his playing days. “It’s what I wanted my entire life and never got a chance to have.”