Oregon gets spark from Barner, rout Sun Devils

Senior running back Kenjon Barner contributed three rushing touchdowns as No. 3 Oregon defeated ASU 43-21 on Thursday. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

The No. 3 Oregon Ducks were glad that a college football game is longer than one minute.

ASU was not.

In the first minute of play, Oregon gave up a fumble that led to an ASU touchdown. The Ducks then took advantage of the next 59 minutes of the game and dominated the Sun Devils 43-21.

After the ASU touchdown, Oregon needed to answer quickly.

That answer came in as senior running back Kenjon Barner. On the second play of Oregon’s second drive, Barner ran up the middle for a 71-yard touchdown.

“The offensive line did a great job of opening the hole,” Barner said. “Seeing the linebackers over pursue and I was able to get it up the field and score.”

The ASU crowd was silenced after the long touchdown run by Barner. The Ducks went on to score 43 unanswered points against the Sun Devils in the first half, following ASU redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly’s 28-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Kevin Ozier.

Starting redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota did not even play in the second half because the game was well into the Ducks’ control.

Senior linebacker Michael Clay said Barner’s first touchdown run was the turning point of the game.

“We’ve got a very prolific offense so we know that they are going to score some points,” Clay said. “But that big run by Kenjon (Barner), it kind of just jumped started us again and got everyone all fired up

Oregon coach Chip Kelly said he was proud of the way his team responded after the early adversity.

“Things did not start off the way we had planned, I’ll tell you that,” Kelly said. “Give them credit, they made a nice play on the second play of the game caused a fumble and then come out and score on us. But the one that I love about this team is that they do not flinch. We talk about playing a full game, and this group just bounced back.”

The crowd grew even quieter when ASU star redshirt junior defensive tackle Will Sutton came back out of the locker room on crutches.

Along with Sutton, starting junior defensive end Junior Onyeali also left the game. Due to the injuries up front the Ducks were able to run up the middle at will against the ASU.

The Oregon rushing attack put up 406 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.

Barner said the absence of Sutton did have an effect on the game.

“I’m pretty sure it was big for them,” Barner said. “He’s a stud on defense. So I’m sure was a big loss.”

The Oregon offense was also aided by its defense.

After ASU’s opening scoring play, the Oregon offense did not give up a point until early in the fourth quarter.

Interceptions by junior linebacker Boseko Lokombo and junior cornerback Avery Patterson set up the Ducks with excellent field position. They took advantage and answered the turnovers with two more Barner touchdowns.

The focus defensively for the Ducks coming into the game was to disrupt Taylor Kelly.

The defense accomplished their goal putting pressure on Kelly throughout the night. Senior defensive end Dion Jordan put applied the most pressure sacking him twice during the game.

Oregon has three more road games left on their schedule including ranked opponents USC and Oregon State.

Chip Kelly said this win on road will give the team confidence moving forward.

“We preach to our guys that if you want to win the championship you have to be great on the road,” Kelly said. “We finish down the stretch with some real big, big road games. Hopefully this gives us a little bit more to pull upon when we get into those situations.”

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu