The floodgates opened quickly for the team with Marcus Mariota behind center. The redshirt junior threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter to both Thomas Tyner and Devon Allen, and Team Mariasu handled Team Twifo en route to a 27-7 win in what Mark Helfrich termed as a “sluggish” spring game.
In front of an announced crowd of 37,129 fans, Mariota went 6-for-7 passing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. In just three series of initiating the offense, Mariota led scoring drives of 76 and 42 yards, both of which culminated in touchdown throws.
The first score of the game for Mariasu came after Tyner motioned from the backfield into the slot and streaked across the field wide open for a 22-yard catch and score. Then on Mariasu’s ensuing drive, Mariota scrambled to his right and found track star Allen for a 45 yard touchdown, ending his day.
“He did a very good job,” Helfich said of Mariota, who also finished with five rushes for 26 yards. “Marcus has been outstanding. He, Keanon Lowe, Ifo (Ekpre-Olomu), their demonstrated leadership on and off the field is outstanding.”
From then on both offenses struggled mightily to move the ball down the field and very little, if at all, separation was made from any of the quarterbacks looking to make a real claim at the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. In all, both teams accumulated five turnovers as well, with three fumbles being lost and two interceptions thrown. The picks were grabbed by Dior Mathis and Tyree Robinson.
“There’s probably 37,000 people leaving going ‘I don’t know’ and they are probably right,” Helfrich said.”The offense put the ball on the ground too many times. Some miscommunication too many times. But overall we got a lot better and through 14 practices really pleased with where we are. Now it’s a matter of building on that.”
In total, the backup quarterbacks — which include Taylor Alie, Jeff Lockie, Jeff Rodrigues and Damion Hobbs — passed 22-for-47 for 266 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. For Lockie and Rodrigues, who were positioned as 2A and 2B in the fall, it was clear that the two may have been pressing too hard early on to break themselves from the pack.
“I think those guys really wanted to win the job on one throw when they didn’t really need to,” Mariota said. “I think after a couple drives a lot of those guys settled down. I think Jeff, Jake, Taylor, and Damien made some good decisions.”
As Mariota noted, the second half went more smoothly for the competing quarterbacks than the first.
Lockie, who went just 3-8 in the first half, found a rhythm in the third quarter and led team Mariasu to an 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 41-yard pass from him to Austin Daich, to put Mariasu ahead 21-0. Later in the fourth quarter, Alie found Darrene Carrington for a 41-yard touchdown to put team Twifo on the board for the first time.
The scoring halted until Hobbs on the final play of the game found Allen for a 49-yard touchdown pass-and-catch, making the score 27-7 and giving bragging rights to team Mariasu.
Allen finished with two catches for two touchdowns and 94 yards in his first live action at Autzen Stadium.
“Just got a chance to go out there and have fun, make some plays, it was exciting,” Allen said. “Kind of some hoorah with the first spring game.”
Overall, the Ducks leave the spring with a bit of a sour taste in their mouth, however with plenty of bright spots to build on, with their first game of the season scheduled for Aug. 30 against South Dakota State.
- Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall received a modified work load with Tyner’s 10 rushes for 58 yards standing out. Marshall never found his footing, only rushing for five yards on four carries. The two, as expected, received a higher volume of throws towards their way. Tyner finished with two catches for 26 yards and Marshall ended with two for 11. Ayele Forde also ran the ball two times for 19 yards.
“Both those guys can play a bunch of positions its just a matter of how much and were going to keep pushing and building and expanding,” Helfrich said.
- On the defensive side, Dior Mathis and Robinson each intercepted a pass today. The two are currently battling for starting defensive back positions. Deforest Buckner ended his day with a forced fumble and fumble recovered as well. Others who recovered fumbles included Tony Washington and Rodney Hardrick.
- Junior College transfer Tui Talia recorded five tackles, one of which was a tackle for loss, in his first game at Autzen Stadium. Talia anchored a junior college group that Helfrich continues to praise.
“All three of those guys did some really good things. We are really excited about all three of them. They all look the part,” Helfrich said.
- Long snapper Connor Johnson, who was expected to long snap for both teams, did not appear in uniform. Matthew McFadden was used as long snapper in replacement.
Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JWISE25