EUGENE, Ore. — Kenjon Barner ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 4 Oregon to a 42-25 victory over Fresno State on Saturday.
De’Anthony Thomas ran for 102 yards and two additional scores for the Ducks (2-0), who sprinted to a 35-6 in the first half before the Bulldogs were able to slow them a bit in the second. Redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 19 of 27 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown.
Derek Carr, the younger brother of former Bulldogs QB David Carr, completed 29 of 47 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown for Fresno State (1-1), a new member of the Mountain West Conference this season. Quentin Breshears kicked four field goals, including one from 43 yards.
The Ducks were coming off a 57-34 victory over Arkansas State in their opener last weekend, while the Bulldogs opened with a 37-10 win over Weber State in new coach Tim DeRuyter’s debut.
DeRuyter, who took over when longtime coach Pat Hill was dismissed, has brought in a new spread offense he’s dubbed “fast, physical, fanatical” while he and defensive coordinator Nick Toth have transformed Fresno State’s 4-3 defense from last season into an attacking 3-4.
But in the end the Bulldogs were outmatched by the faster Ducks.
Fresno State went ahead first on Breshears’ 39-years field goal but the lead was short-lived and Thomas scored on his first touch of the game, taking a pitch from Mariota and running 39 yards to make it 7-3.
Thomas appeared to score again on Oregon’s next series on a 2-yard run, but the touchdown was nullified when the officials went back and reviewed the previous play, determining that Mariota had gone out of bounds at the 3-yard-line and not the 2. Barner ran the 3-yeard remaining for the score on the next play.
Oregon was hurt in the first quarter when starting receiver Josh Huff went down on a kickoff return. Huff appeared to hurt his left knee and had to be helped off the field. While he later walked unaided to the locker room, he came out on crutches in the second half.
Oregon was also without senior free safety John Boyett, who did not dress for the game but was shagging balls during warmups. Oregon does not discuss injuries so it is uncertain if he was hurt.
Mariota found tight end Colt Lyerla with a 22-yard scoring pass early in the second quarter, and Thomas darted 51 yards, breaking several tackles, for another touchdown to make it 28-3.
Barner added a 3-yard scoring run before Breshears hit a 43-yard field goal to make it 35-6 at halftime.
Fresno State narrowed it to 35-16 in the third quarter when Carr found Isaiah Burse with an 18-yard touchdown pass and Breshears kicked a 25-yard field goal. Breshears added a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to make it 35-19.
Barner ran for a 16-yards touchdown with 3:51 left, but Bulldogs’ senior tailback Robbie Rouse added a 2-yard scoring dash for the final margin.
Bulldogs senior tailback Robbie Rouse ran for 115 yards on 27 carries. With 665 career carries, he has surpassed Michael Pittman (1993-97) for most in school history.
In his college debut last weekend against Arkansas State, Mariota threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns. On the practice squad last season, Mariota takes over for Darron Thomas, who threw for a school-record 33 touchdowns last season before leaving school with a year of eligibility left.
Barner likewise has taken over as Oregon’s starting running back now that former Heisman finalist LaMichael James has moved on to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
Fresno State has not defeated the Ducks since a 10-4 victory at Autzen Stadium in 1982. Oregon is 7-2 all-time against the Bulldogs.