Oregon vs. Fresno State score: Ducks hold on to win after star DE Kayvon Thibodeaux leaves game with injury

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No. 11 Oregon got a picture of life without star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux on Saturday, and it was a scary proposition for the Ducks, who survived an upset bid from Fresno State by outlasting the visiting Bulldogs 31-24. Quarterback Anthony Brown scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:57 left on a 30-yard option keeper as Oregon coach Mario Cristobal's gamble to go for it on fourth-and-2 paid off. 

Thibodeaux, the Ducks' star edge rusher and a top projected pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, left the game in the second quarter with an apparent ankle injury. After returning briefly, he did not play in the second half and was seen on the sideline in street clothes and a walking boot. Without him, the Ducks struggled to contain a gamely Fresno State offensive attack led by quarterback Jake Haener. The Washington transfer led the Bulldogs back from an early 14-0 deficit to take a 24-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. 

Ultimately, the Ducks' defense stiffened when it mattered most, as Fresno State came up just short of the sticks on a fourth-down attempt with 2:19 remaining. Oregon ran the clock out from there to survive with a 1-0 record ahead of next week's showdown at No. 4 Ohio State. 

Looming large for that game will be the status of Thibodeaux. The 6-foot-5 junior earned numerous All-American honors last season and was named MVP of the Pac-12 Championship Game. He registered as the No. 1 NFL Draft prospect for 2022 in an aggregation compiled by CBS Sports this week. Thibodeaux made his presence felt early in the game with a strip sack that set up an Oregon touchdown, and it was only after his injury that Fresno State found a rhythm offensively.

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OREG -18, o62.5
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OREG -18, O/U 62.5

Season Leaders

passing
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J. Haener 2326 YD, 20 TDS, 6 INTS
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J. Haener 2326 YD, 20 TDS, 6 INTS
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A. Brown 1194 YD, 7 TDS, 1 INT
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A. Brown 1194 YD, 7 TDS, 1 INT
rushing
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R. Rivers 113 ATT, 493 YD, 3 TDS
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R. Rivers 113 ATT, 493 YD, 3 TDS
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T. Dye 79 ATT, 527 YD, 4 TDS
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T. Dye 79 ATT, 527 YD, 4 TDS
receiving
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J. Cropper 48 REC, 546 YD, 10 TDS
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J. Cropper 48 REC, 546 YD, 10 TDS
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J. Johnson III 14 REC, 200 YD, 1 TD
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J. Johnson III 14 REC, 200 YD, 1 TD
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Oregon makes a stand

Fresno State gets hit with a false start and then comes up two yards short on a fourth down completion to turn the ball over on downs with just over two minutes to play. That should just about do it, and the Ducks will be lucky to survive with a victory. They led 14-0 early, but Fresno State looked like the better team for much of this game. An effort like that is going to get Oregon run out of The Horseshoe against Ohio State next week.

September 4, 2021, 9:20 PM
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@FresnoStateFB via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 9:13 PM
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@oregonfootball via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 9:12 PM
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Oregon surges ahead

Mario Cristobal decides to go for it on a 4th-and-short as opposed to kicking a 47-yarder. Gamble pays off in a big way as Anthony Brown keeps it on an option play and goes 30 yards for a score. Fresno State will get it back with 2:57 left down 31-24.

September 4, 2021, 9:12 PM
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Jake Haener taking a beating

Fresno State's second-year starter is taking a beating, even with Kayvon Thibodeaux out. He got crushed on third down there, and now Oregon has it back and is driving. The Ducks appear to be wearing out Fresno State a bit in the run game. The Bulldogs' defense has been on the field a lot recently. Oregon into Fresno territory.

September 4, 2021, 9:08 PM
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Oregon ties it up

The Ducks have evened it up at 24-24 on a 25-yard FG by Camden Lewis. Just not much separation for the Ducks' receivers, and Anthony Brown just looks a bit hesitant to pull the trigger. Anyway, we've got a fight with 7:41 remaining. 17 of Oregon's 24 points have come off turnovers in this game. We all know the Chip Kelly era of offense is dead and gone in Eugene, but they've got to generate more explosiveness to be a Pac-12 contender.

September 4, 2021, 9:03 PM
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@FresnoStateFB via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 9:01 PM
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Another critical turnover

Jake Haener just fumbled while scrambling for the sticks. That's a critical error that will give the Ducks the football in Fresno territory. If the Bulldogs lose this game, they will be sick over how fumbles cost them. Haener's been a warrior, but you've gotta protect the football at all costs there.

September 4, 2021, 8:56 PM
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Fresno State's D is legit

Pitching a shutout against UConn is one thing, but what Fresno State's defense is doing against Oregon is on another level. Looked like the Ducks were gaining momentum on their last drive and then you look up and it's 3rd-and-long. Booming punt sets Fresno State back against its own goal-line, but the point stands that this Oregon offense is going to have to show some life in a way it simply hasn't yet in this game.

September 4, 2021, 8:53 PM
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@FresnoStateFB via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 8:46 PM
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@FresnoStateFB via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 8:46 PM
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@FresnoStateFB via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 8:45 PM
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Fresno State takes the lead

The Bulldogs have roared back from a 14-0 deficit to take the lead on the road at No. 11 Oregon. Turnovers have been the impetus for much of the scoring in this game. Fresno State turned it over twice in the first quarter to set up Oregon scores, and now an Anthony Brown fumble to start the fourth quarter has allowed Fresno to jump ahead 24-21 with a short FG. This is a big moment upcoming for Brown and the Ducks. With a stud freshman like Ty Thompson waiting in the shadows, this fan base isn't going to have much patience for anything substandard at that position.

September 4, 2021, 8:44 PM
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@FresnoStateFB via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 8:43 PM
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Oregon turnover to start the fourth

Oregon fumbles it away to start the fourth quarter. Fresno State has dominated the game since the end of the first quarter. Total yards: Fresno State 337, Oregon 241. Bulldogs had the benefit of getting a nice warmup game in against UConn last week, and obviously Kayvon Thibodeaux's exit has a left a void on the Ducks' defensive front. You can almost feel the point spread for Ohio Sate-Oregon moving in real time.

September 4, 2021, 8:38 PM
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@FresnoStateFB via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 8:31 PM
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@FresnoStateFB via Twitter
September 4, 2021, 8:24 PM
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