Three Plays That Made the Difference: Colorado
In a win no one ever considered to be a close contest, it can be difficult to look back at three plays that made a difference. The game was never in doubt, so plays making a difference takes on a different meaning. In Saturday's game against Colorado, there were plays that made a difference, just not to the outcome of win versus loss.
1st Quarter, 15:00
Prior to the opening kickoff, Cliff Harris was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Ducks won the coin toss, but had their hand forced by Harris' penalty. Faced with kicking to Colorado from their own 15 yard line after the assessment of the penalty setting Colorado up with very good opening field position, coach Chip Kelly decided to receive the opening kickoff. Though it went through the end zone, the Ducks had already dodged a pretty big bullet. The Ducks made the opening drive count marching 80 yards in 6 plays to take an early lead that would never be challenged.
1st Quarter, 4:55
On 2nd-and-7 from their own 16, after gaining just 15 yards in his first five carries, Kenjon Barner took a hand-off from Bryan Bennett and sprinted through a huge hole on the right side then down the sidelines for a scintillating 84 yard touchdown run. Lost in the lightning fast streak to the endzone is the huge play by the wide receiver tot he right.
Lined up wide, the receiver made a move across the middle as if he might be going on a slant, the defensive back, playing man coverage went with him inside. But the receiver had no interest in that defender as he bee-lined straight to the safety coming up in run support. The receiver had essentially taken TWO men out of the play as he pancaked the safety on the play. As Kenjon blew past the last remaining defender, there was one other person that made the run possible most people missed: Justin Hoffman.
3rd Quarter, 2:16
After Colorado had made perhaps their best drive of the day, going 42 yards in 7 plays to get into Oregon territory, Dewitt Stuckey sacked backup quarterback Nick Hirschman for a 7 yard loss forcing a punt. The outcome all but assured, Cliff Harris fielded the punt inside the 5-yard line, running backwards, over his shoulder. His momentum carried him into the end zone where he was quickly tackled for a safety.
Though the play had no real impact on who won the game, it took away a shutout that the defense had worked hard to maintain. Those two points would be all that Colorado would get on this day, and it was a gift.