Oregon holds off late Arizona State rally to win 31-29

Oregon holds off late Arizona State rally to win 31-29
Oregon's CJ Verdell, center, breaks through the Arizona State defense during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Justin Herbert threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns in what might be his last game at Autzen Stadium and Oregon held off a late rally by Arizona State to win 31-29 and knock the Sun Devils out of contention for a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.

Herbert has not said whether he will return for his final year of eligibility for the Ducks. Dillon Mitchell, his favorite target this year, caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Sun Devils.

Arizona State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) headed to Eugene on a three-game winning streak and needing a win to stay alive in its division race. But Utah defeated Colorado 30-7 in Boulder earlier in the day, giving the No. 19 Utes six wins in conference play. The Sun Devils’ loss meant they could not catch Utah with just one game to go.

The Ducks (7-4, 4-4) were also bowl-eligible but had stumbled with three losses in their previous four games. Saturday’s game was Oregon’s last at home this season before hitting the road for the Civil War against Oregon State on Thanksgiving weekend.

Oregon was already eliminated from the Pac-12 North title race, which will be decided by next weekend’s Apple Cup between No. 17 Washington and No. 8 Washington State. But the victory over ASU assured the Ducks would finish above .500 in coach Mario Cristobal’s first year.

Manny Wilkins threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns for ASU. N’Keal Harry had seven catches for 105 yards. And Eno Benjamin, the Pac-12’s leading rusher, had 29 carries for 149 yards.

The Sun Devils made it interesting with 11 minutes left when Brandon Aiyuk caught a 25-yard scoring pass from Wilkins to close within 28-23. Oregon answered with Adam Stack’s 28-yard field goal.

The Sun Devils scored again on Wilkins’ 1-yard touchdown run with 4:35 left, but the two-point conversion failed and Oregon remained in front.

Herbert was intercepted on a tipped pass by ASU’s Cam Phillips, but on the ensuing drive Oregon recovered a Sun Devil fumble to get the ball back with just over three minutes to go.

Oregon’s first series of the game ended with CJ Verdell’s 6-yard touchdown run. Brandon Ruiz kicked a 38-yard field goal midway through the first quarter to narrow it to 7-3 for ASU.

Herbert’s swing pass to Verdell resulted in an 18-yard touchdown to open the second quarter before Ruiz kicked a 30-yarder for the Sun Devils.

On Oregon’s next drive Herbert found Mitchell with a 57-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-6. Mitchell has a school record six games this season with at least 100 receiving yards.

Arizona State’s Aashari Crosswell intercepted Herbert and ran it back 50 yards to set up Wilkins’ 22-yard touchdown pass to Frank Darby. But Jaylon Redd scored on an 8-yard run to put the Ducks up 28-13 at the break.

Ruiz added a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter.


Arizona State: The Sun Devils were without freshman linebacker Merlin Robertson for the first half after he was flagged for targeting in the third quarter of last weekend’s game. Robertson has 66 tackles, five sacks, an interception and a recovered fumble this season. … Safeties Jalen Harvey and Demonte King did not play because of injuries. … The Sun Devils are coming off a 31-28 victory over UCLA.

Oregon: There were questions earlier in the week whether CJ Verdell would be able to play because of a neck injury. … The Ducks are coming off a 32-25 loss at Utah last Saturday. … Herbert is widely considered to be among the top quarterbacks in next year’s NFL draft should he choose to leave early.


Arizona State: The Sun Devils end the season at rival Arizona in the Territorial Cup on Saturday.

Oregon: The Ducks visit Oregon State in the Civil War rivalry game next Friday.


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