Oregon absolutely dominated the Beavers in every way possible in a 69-10 drubbing in front of a sold out Autzen Stadium of 57,475. The 69 points were the most points ever scored in the Civil War by either team.
“We had a great week of practice,” Taggart said. “The guys came out focused. They were ticked off, but it was a controlled ticked off. I enjoyed that (winning) a lot, but I enjoyed it more for our seniors. It was important to play well for those guys. They helped change the culture.”
The Ducks finish the season with a 7-5 record and 4-5 in conference play. Meanwhile, the Beavers season mercifully ends at 1-11 and they’ll be looking for a new head coach as soon as possible. As for Taggart, it was a successful first season despite all of the adversity.
“I’ll remember all the wins. It was a great experience and a great learning lesson for our young players,” he said. “We could have easily given up during that losing streak. We came together and care about each other and that played a big role in our success.”
The win was also Oregon’s ninth Civil War win in the last 10 games in this storied rivalry. After last year’s disappointing 34-24 loss up in Corvallis, Oregon was looking for a little payback.
They got a lot of payback and then some.
Justin Herbert finished the game 13-of-23 for 251 yards and three touchdowns, all coming in the first half. It was a first half to remember as Oregon led 52-7 at the break. The 52 points was the second most points in a half in the FBS this season.
Royce Freeman was a huge part in setting records also. The senior tailback, making his last appearance at Autzen, scored two touchdowns to break the Pac-12 career record with 60 trips to the end zone.
“It means I’m old now,” Freeman said of the records he broke. “It’s a tribute to the offensive line. I give much thanks to the o-line.”
Freeman went out of his way to mention fellow senior Tyrell Crosby.
“Tyrell has meant a lot. He blocks his butt off and is one of the best tackles in the country,” Freeman said.
Crosby just happens to agree with his all-time great tailback and teammate.
“It’s crazy to see how fast it goes by,” he said. “Blocking for Royce and seeing him score … you’re just proud of him because of how hard he worked.”
Ironically, Freeman broke former Beaver Ken Simonton’s mark. Freeman gained 122 yards to bring his career total to 5,621 yards, second all-time in the conference.
Oregon began the trouncing early when Freeman made it 10-0 on a two-yard score to complete a 48-yard drive. After a Beaver fumble, Herbert found Dillon Mitchell 29 yards out in the back of the end zone to make it 17-0 with 3:28 left in the first quarter.
The Beavers cracked the scoreboard with a 43-yard pass to make it 17-7, but then that seemed to only get Oregon angry. The Ducks exploded for 35 second quarter points.
Herbert made it 24-7 on a 12-yard touchdown to Jacob Breeland over the middle with a pass that split two OSU defenders. That score was set up on a 49-yard bomb to Jaylon Redd. The freshman receiver had a career day with 82 total yards and a touchdown.
Freeman’s record breaking touchdown made it 31-7 with 10:49 left until halftime. Oregon State was learning that the Ducks were just beginning.
Thomas Graham, Jr intercepted Darell Garretson’s pass and ran it back into Beaver territory and Redd would score on the next play, a 19-yard rush on a sweep play for a 38-7 lead.
Believe it or not, the Ducks would score two more times before the break. The onslaught just wouldn’t stop.
Another Beaver turnover gave Oregon a short field once again, which set up Herbert’s lone rushing touchdown. That was a six-yard run to make it 45-7 with still 7:43 left before halftime.
With all of th points scored, what might be looked over is how well the Duck defense played to hold OSU to just 10 points.
“We went out there and did what we expected to do,” linebacker Troy Dye said. “We shut them down. There’s no better feeling. These seniors have been through a lot. A lot of ups and downs.”
Oregon rubbed salt in the Beavers’ wound one more time on a 53-yard pass to Mitchell. The sophomore led all receivers with six catches for 119 yards and two scores.
“Dillon has been a great team player. I can say that about all the receivers,” Taggart said. “Getting Justin back allowed Dillon to do the things he does well. It was good to see a smile on his face.”
Many of the substitutes played on both teams in the second half and the goal was to not get anyone hurt.
But that didn’t stop the Ducks from scoring again and again.
Aiden Schneider kicked his second field goal of the game to make it 55-7 and then the Duck defense got in on the action. Safety Justin Hollins caught a tipped pass and easily ran it in the end zone from 11 yards out to put the Ducks over the 60 mark.
After an OSU field goal, Kani Benoit scored his last touchdown in Autzen. On a routine off tackle right play, Benoit broke through the line and raced 47 yards to pay dirt. That last rush gave the former walk on and senior 122 yards on the day.
What’s next for Oregon is remained to be seen. The Ducks will have to wait until the regular season is finished next week before finding out what bowl they’ll be going to.
But after last year’s disappointing 4-8 mark and suffering throughout most of the season without Herbert, Oregon will be thankful for any bowl game it happens to go to. Beating the Beavers is a pretty good way to end the regular season too, according to Taggart.
“I definitely didn’t want to be the coach to go through the off season with a loss to the school up North,” he said.
~ Don Smalley