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PAC-12 FOOTBALL: At Autzen Stadium, Oregon rallies in fourth quarter, then makes goal-line stop at the end of the game.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Travis Dye, pictured in a September game against Arizona, produced 218 of Oregon's 454 yards in Friday's 24-17 win over Cal at Austzen Stadium. Big picture: Oregon (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) survives to keep its biggest dreams alive, though this is certainly not a playoff-caliber team right now. That doesn't mean the Ducks won't push for a playoff spot, but it appears every game (except maybe Colorado) will be an ulcer-maker for Oregon fans.

It's very early, but the Ducks and Beavers are tied atop the Pac-12 North. The Ducks could be 6-0 now. They also could be 3-3 (or worse?).

Is this the game that gets Anthony Brown Jr. on track? The quarterback missed several opportunities to see open receivers down field on key plays in the first three quarters, and he had to hear the boos throughout the game. But, Brown deserves credit for being resilient and for making big plays when it mattered. Leaving to cheers after leading consecutive fourth-quarter touchdown drives had to feel good. Brown needs work on his throws over the middle, but made a series of nice throws outside the hashmarks, the best of them perhaps the tying touchdown to Jaylon Redd in the fourth quarter.

Speaking of good, a healthy Kayvon Thibodeaux is something to behold. He had to sit out the first half Friday because of the targeting penalty called against him at Stanford, but was a game-changing force in the fourth quarter against Cal. He was credited with five tackles and a sack, and would have clinched the win four plays sooner if not for a heady backhand pass on fourth down by Cal QB Chase Garbers. Cal is 1-5, 0-3 Pac-12, but four of its losses are by a touchdown or less (including an OT loss to Washington).

Notable numbers: Travis Dye was a beast, running 19 times for 145 yards and a touchdown and catching seven passes for 73 yards including a key 39-yard screen pass … Brown finished 20 of 28 for 244 yards and a touchdown. … Camden Lewis opened the scoring with a career-long 49-yard field goal. … Similar to Stanford, Cal ran 80 plays to Oregon's 63. … Ducks' freshman linebacker Noah Sewell was in on 12 tackles (six solo) with a sack, 1.5 tackles for lost yardage and a pass breakup. … After converting their first three third downs on their opening touchdown drive, the Bears went 3 of 13 on third down the rest of the night. … Both teams had penalty trouble. Oregon was flagged nine times for 92 yards (including at least four that either stalled a Ducks drive or extended a Bears' possession. Cal was flagged 10 times for 78 yards, the bulk of them offensive holding penalties.

Reaction

The Ducks might not be a top-10 outfit, but deserve credit for the way they responded to adversity — particularly Brown and his offensive line. After netting 33 yards (on eight offensive snaps) in the third quarter, the Ducks put together consecutive touchdown drives of 62 and 70 yards. … Oregon probably has control of the game before halftime if blocking-in-the-back penalties by receivers in the red zone didn't halt the Ducks' first two offensive drives. … Dye had a huge first half, carrying 12 times for 109 yards and an 11-yard TD run. Brown was more comfortable and efficient throwing to the boundaries, including on a big third-down back-shoulder catch by Devon Williams that jumpstarted Oregon's second-quarter touchdown drive. In addition to the penalties, the Ducks lost two fumbles before halftime. … Thibodeaux had to sit out the first half, and it took a quarter for the Ducks' defense to settle in. Cal went 13 plays with ease on its first drive to lead 7-3.

Center Ryan Walk said, of course, the Ducks' offensive players heard the boos.

"Yeah, you notice it, and it motivated us," Walk said. "The O-line went to AB and said: 'Hey, we got your back, have our back.' And that's what we showed on those last two drives. We got each other's backs. AB's our guy. He's our leader. We're rolling with him regardless, so I think that's what the great teams are made of, when they're willing to go out there and have each other's back and finish the game in the fourth quarter where other teams may have folded."

Mario Cristobal said the booing has "got to be irrelevant terms of our process. … In terms of the question of (Brown) handling himself in the game, he made a lot of really good plays tonight, a lot of big plays, and showed a lot of poise, made some plays with his feet, with his arm."

Verone McKinley III, along with Sewell, blitzed up the middle to pressure Garbers into a bad pass to complete the the goal-line stand at the end of the game: "We weren't going to have that same feeling that we had at Stanford. We're going to close this game out and we knew it'd be on us. That last play, hole opened up and I came through free and got some pressure and it allowed us to get off the field. So, definitely one of the more exciting moments I feel like in my career."

Up next: Oregon at UCLA, 12:30 p.m. Oct. 23 (ABC or ESPN).


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