It paid off.
Punt protector and linebacker Rodney Hardrick took the snap and returned it 67 yards to set up an Oregon score to tie the game. Ducks’ running back De’Antohny Thomas punched it in from 1-yard out and the score moved to 7-7.
Thomas, affectionately known around college circles as DAT, is making his first start since September 28th against the California Golden Bears. He injured his ankle on the opening kickoff of that game and has been unable to go since.
Oregon running back Byron Marshall, who has ran for nearly 800 yards this season taking over for and backing up DAT, broke free for a 40-yard score and Oregon took their first lead of the ball game with 13 minutes left in the first half.
In what could possibly be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship game, both teams have a lot on the line in this one. For Oregon, a victory could mean a top-2 BCS ranking heading into next week’s game at No. 6 Stanford.
UCLA came into this game tied with Arizona State for tops in the Pac-12 South.