SEATTLE — The Dawgs suffered a devastating defeat here Saturday, but there was still a homecoming celebration at Husky Stadium.
Oregon offensive linemen Shane Lemieux and Calvin Throckmorton, who both grew up on the north side of this border war rivalry, soaked up the moment as they walked off the field following the Ducks’ dramatic 35-31 Pac-12 victory over rival Washington.
“This is me and Cal’s kind of backyard,” said Lemieux, who is from Yakima, Washington. “I know for me, UW didn’t recruit me, whatever their reason was, so I went to Oregon. And that was right when UW started to become good.
“That hurt a little bit.”
Lemieux and Throckmorton, a Bellevue, Washington export, are fifth-year seniors who were on the wrong side of the Huskies’ 70-21 (2016) and 38-3 (2017) wins prior to the Mario Cristobal era.
Last year’s 30-27 overtime thriller, which was capped off by the offensive line opening a gaping hole for CJ Verdell’s game-winning touchdown run, was special for the Ducks.
But the team’s elder statesmen say erasing a 14-point deficit to silence the crowd of 70,867 at Husky Stadium was even sweeter.
“It feels really good, man. This is the best win of my career,” Lemieux said. “Especially on the road, this was really tough to do.”
The visitors trailed 28-14 early in the third quarter after Andy Avalos’ defense, which had only allowed four touchdowns all season, surrendered its fourth touchdown of the afternoon.
Through the first three quarters, quarterback Jacob Eason was 19 of 24 passing for 242 yards and three touchdowns, and the Huskies had 120 rushing yards.
With the game in the balance, Washington had two three-and-outs and turned the ball over on downs in the fourth quarter.
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“Close it out. They really did, they closed it out,” Cristobal said of the defense’s performance. “They just rose to the occasion. They played to their strengths, they played to their capabilities like they know how.”
Troy Dye had to leave the game to have a broken thumb put in a cast. The senior linebacker finished with five tackles and a pass breakup. Starting cornerback Deommodore Lenoir left the game with an injury suffered after a collision with safety Nick Pickett.
Thomas Graham picked up the slack in the secondary with a team-high seven tackles, and freshman Mykael Wright had wide receiver Puka Nacua blanketed on Eason’s final incompletion, which ended Washington’s comeback bid.
“We came out the second half with a little more of a chip on our shoulder. We had to prove some things,” Dye said. “When it comes down to the last play and they go after the freshman, and the freshman steps up big time, it shows a lot in the program, it shows a lot in the recruiting and it shows a lot in the faith that we have in (Wright).”
No. 11 Oregon (6-1, 4-0) has nearly locked up the North Division of the Pac-12 with ownership of the head-to-head tiebreaker over Washington (5-2, 2-3), Stanford (3-4, 2-3) and California (4-3, 1-3).
Oregon State (3-4, 2-2) is in second place in the division.
According to Lemieux, there is no need to worry about a letdown from the Ducks when Washington State (4-3, 1-3) visits on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
The Cougars have won the last four meetings in the series, which is a sore subject inside the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
“We haven’t beaten Washington State in my career, so that’s going to be a huge test this next week,” Lemieux said. “Obviously they do a lot of crazy stuff on defense a lot of stuff on offense. I’m already looking ahead.
“That’s a really big emphasis for me this year, beating Washington State.”