Ducks' Paulson comes up big in Civil War blowout

EUGENE — In what could have been David Paulson's final home game in an Oregon uniform, the senior made sure he and his 13 classmates would see one more game inside Autzen Stadium this season. Fans often question why the sure-handed Paulson hasn't had more passes thrown his way in 2011, and on Saturday the 6-foot-4, 241-pound tight end made the most of every opportunity in leading No. 10 Oregon to a 49-21 victory over Oregon State in the 115th edition of the Civil War rivalry.

In the first half alone, Paulson pulled in a career-high six receptions for 87 yards and his career-best fifth touchdown of the year. The senior from Auburn, Wash., scored from 16 yards out, which jumpstarted a 21-point second quarter for the Ducks.

"That flat route they never really covered," Paulson said, "so kind of we just kept going back to that gaining about eight to 10 yards a pop."

Paulson eclipsed the century mark for the first time in his career, catching eight passes for a game-high 105 yards and one touchdown. In 39 career games, Paulson now has 989 yards on 64 receptions and nine touchdowns.

While his numbers have generally been modest, head coach Chip Kelly referred to Paulson as one of Oregon's most valuable, and versatile, players on the offensive side of the ball.

"He doesn't care if he ever gets the ball, he's content to block," Kelly said. "It's the same demeanor whether he has a 10-catch performance or a zero-catch performance."

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OREGON POUNDED THE GROUND throughout the game to the tune of 363 rushing yards, 217 of those coming in the first half. Junior running back LaMichael James put his name atop the Ducks' all-time career scoring list with his 1-yard plunge in the first quarter. Thirty-five games into his illustrious Oregon career, which many expect will expire at season's end, James has scored 324 points, one more than former kicker Jared Siegel.

The junior from Texarkana, Texas, finished with a game-high 142 rushing yards — his 24th career 100-yard performance — on 24 carries and one touchdown before leaving the game with a left arm injury with less than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Kelly said he "wasn't concerned at all" and that James was his usual upbeat self in the locker room postgame.

"I think he's just excited that he gets to have fresh legs for UCLA," junior tackle Carson York said. "He was joking around in the locker room that he didn't get any reps in the second half. He's just excited that he's gonna have some fresh legs to get after it against UCLA."

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OREGON'S DEFENSE PUT TOGETHER one of its best showings of the season through three-and-a-half quarters before Oregon State tacked on two late scores against the Ducks' reserves late in the game.

Oregon held the Pac-12's second-worst scoring team (21 points per game) to just 315 yards of total offense (299 passing and 16 rushing). Linebackers Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso intercepted Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion twice in the first quarter, the first leading directly to James' opening score.

"I thought our d-line again — Terrell Turner, Dion Jordan came up with a couple big sacks — generated a lot of pressure on him and didn't allow him to get his feet set and establish a throw," Kelly said.

Mannion was sacked six times in the game, twice each by Turner and Jordan, and again by Ryan Hagen and Boseko Lokombo.

"We try to get in everybody's head," said Turner, who finished with six tackles and three for a loss. "If not the quarterback, the running back. And if not the running back, the offensive line. It starts up front in the trenches with the o-line and d-line."

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AFTER A SHAKY FIRST QUARTER junior quarterback Darron Thomas settled down over the next 30 minutes of play.

Thomas connected with seven different receivers, including touchdown passes to Paulson, De'Anthony Thomas, Kenjon Barner — all in the second quarter — and then found Colt Lyerla from 39 yards out to start the final period.

He completed 27 of 40 pass attempts for 305 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in leading Oregon to 670 yards of total offense on 102 plays from scrimmage.

For the second straight season, Thomas has won 10 games as a starter. His four touchdown passes gives him 27 total for the year (61 for his career) and extended his streak of games with at least one touchdown pass to 24.

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