Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Ducks Fly High in Thrilling Holiday Bowl Victory Over North Carolina

The first football game played at Petco Park was one for the books as the University of Oregon Ducks (10-3) defeated the University of North Carolina Tar Heels (9-5) 28-27 in the 2022 SDCCU Holiday Bowl on Wednesday night. Bo Nix helped lead the Ducks to their third Holiday Bowl victory in team history, completing 23 of 30 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Nix also had a strong ground game, rushing for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Tyler Ferguson led Oregon in receiving with 84 yards on 5 receptions.

Drake Maye threw for 206 yards and three touchdowns for the Tar Heels, completing 18 of 35 passes. With 50 yards on 17 carries, Elijah Green led the Tar Heels in rushing. Kobe Paysour also had a solid game, catching seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

From start to finish, the game was hotly contested, with the lead changing hands multiple times. Bucky Irving scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter to give the Ducks an early lead, but North Carolina replied with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Maye to Andre Greene Jr.

Irving scored again in the second quarter, this time on a 66-yard run, but the Tar Heels responded with touchdowns from Maye to Bryson Nesbit and Kobe Paysour, taking a 21-14 advantage into halftime.

With 9:13 remaining, UNC expanded their lead to 24-14 on a 19-yard field goal by Noah Burnette, but the Ducks rallied with a touchdown pass from Nix to Troy Franklin. Burnette added another field goal for the Tar Heels, but Oregon tied the game 27-27 with 19 seconds left on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Nix to Chase Cota. Camden Lewis' PAT attempt hit the upright but bounced through for the game-winning point. 

Maye's last-second hail mary attempt was deflected in the endzone, securing the victory for the Ducks.

Play of the Game

Late in the second quarter, Nix attempted a pass to tight end Terrance Ferguson, however, the pass was slightly off-target and was deflected by UNC linebacker Cedric Gray as it hit Ferguson's hand. The ball then ricocheted off Gray's leg and was kicked up into the air by Power Echols' toe. Echols was able to catch the ball and returned it 40 yards to Oregon's 49-yard line with 35 seconds remaining in the first half. The SportsCenter Top 10 worthy play set up a 49-yard touchdown strike from Maye to Paysour to give the Tar Heels a 21-14 lead going into halftime.

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