By Adam Jude The Register-Guard Sept 11
Sophomore linebacker Bo Lokombo picked off Nevada backup quarterback Cody Fajardo and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown with 20 seconds left, capping Oregon’s impressive 69-20 victory Saturday before 58,818 at Autzen Stadium.
Lokombo’s interception was the third takeaway of the game for the Ducks, who ranked second in the nation last season with 37 takeaways. It’s a statistic UO defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti takes pride in, and one that has apparently made him a little greedy.
“Three?” he said. “I’ll take three — but I’d like to get four or five a game.”
Redshirt freshman cornerback Troy Hill and senior defensive end Brandon Hanna both added their first career interceptions off Nevada starter Tyler Lantrip. Oregon had another fumble recovery overturned after a review.
Lantrip, a senior, was making his first start for in the Wolf Pack’s renowned “pistol” offense. He was effective in the first half, throwing for 147 yards, 90 of which went to wide receiver Rishard Matthews, a former Oregon signee.
But Oregon held Nevada to 70 yards rushing on 30 carries in the first half, and the Wolf Pack had trouble converting much of anything in the red zone.
Oregon safety John Boyett, making a Superman leap over a defender, blocked a field-goal attempt in the first quarter. And by the time Lantrip threw his first touchdown pass, with 1:52 left in the second quarter, Oregon had built a 34-0 lead.
“We had a pretty good handle (on him),” Boyett said. “He’s a good quarterback, and he made some good throws in there, but for the most part we did a good job against him.”
The Ducks took a 41-7 lead at halftime, and there wasn’t much to it after that.
“I was very pleased (that) the game was over, pretty much, after the first half, and a lot of guys got to play in the second half,” Aliotti said. “That was good.”
To defend the pistol, Aliotti said he kept things simple in the game plan. Defenders were asked to pick up only one or two reads before the snap.
The Ducks did “not get crazy with it and just play solid defense, which I thought we did pretty much in the first half. Really, that was it,” Aliotti said. “The pistol’s a new animal, and it’s tough.”
According to the game statistics, 34 Oregon defenders had a hand in at least one tackle Saturday.
Nevada did gain 516 yards of total offense, with 299 of those coming in the second half, mostly against UO reserves.
“The second half, we didn’t play well, for whatever reason. But a lot of guys got to play,” Aliotti said. “The bottom line is, last week we lost, and this week we won.”