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Thomas, Oregon too much for Kansas State

Ducks soar over Wildcats

Published: Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 12:06 a.m. CDT
Caption
(AP)
Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) returns the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown against Kansas State during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday in Glendale, Ariz.

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Oregon's DeAnthony Thomas raced 94 yards for a touchdown on the opening kickoff.

The fifth-ranked Ducks barely looked back after that.

Oregon raced past No. 7 Kansas State 35-17 Thursday night at the Fiesta Bowl in what may have been coach Chip Kelly's final game with the Ducks.

Teams that had national title aspirations end on the same day, Oregon and Kansas State ended up in the desert for a marquee matchup billed as a battle of styles: The fast-flying Ducks vs. the execution-is-everything Wildcats.

With Kelly reportedly talking to several NFL teams, Oregon (12-1) was too much for Kansas State and its Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein.

The Ducks tried to turn the game into a track meet, and it worked from the start.

Thomas followed his before-everyone-sat-down kickoff return with a 23-yard touchdown catch, finishing with 195 total yards.

Kenjon Barner ran for 143 yards on 31 carries and scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota in the second quarter. Mariota later scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter, capped by an obscure 1-point safety that went in the Ducks' favor.

Even Oregon's defense got into the act, intercepting Klein twice and holding him to 30 yards on 13 carries.

Thomas offered the first flash of speed, crossing into the end zone like a sprinter taking the finish-line tape after picking up a couple of blocks and racing past Oregon's bench for a touchdown on the opening kickoff. The Ducks, as they are apt to do, went for 2 on the point-after and converted on a trick play to go up 8-0 in the game's first 12 seconds.

Thomas hit the Wildcats (11-2) again late in the first quarter, breaking a couple of tackles and dragging three defenders into the end zone for a catch-and-run TD that put the Ducks up 15-0.

And they kept flying.

Oregon followed a missed 40-yard field goal by Kansas State's Anthony Cantele by unleashing one of its blink-and-you'll-miss-it scoring drives late in the second quarter. Moving 77 yards in 46 seconds, the Ducks went up 22-10 at halftime after Mariota hit Barner on 24-yard TD pass.

Alejandro Maldonado hit a 33-yard field goal on Oregon's opening drive of the third quarter and Mariota capped a long drive with an easy 2-yard TD run to the left. Kansas State's Javonta Boyd blocked the point-after attempt, but even that went wrong for the Wildcats: Chris Harper was tackled in the end zone for a bizarre 1-point safety that put Oregon up 32-10.

 

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