Young Ducks Soar in Oregon Spring Game

Quarterback Robby Ashford dives into the end zone to score the game winning two point conversation during the Oregon Spring Game at Autzen Stadium.
Photo by Chris Pietsch / The Register Guard

Eugene, Ore. – Oregon football took center stage on Saturday, May 1, as the Ducks held their 2021 Spring Game at an empty Autzen Stadium. 

The offseason competition was the first of its kind since 2019, last year’s spring game having been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ducks took the field and sorted into teams based on position. The Yellow team (consisting of the offensive players)defeated the Green team (made up of defensive talent) 35-34. 

Going into Saturday many had questions about the quarterback position, primarily if six-year senior Anthony Brown would be starting and if so, who his immediate backup would be. 

Brown answered the call throwing 20 of 29 for 230 yards and a touchdown to junior running back Travis Dye. 

“We think Anthony’s the one,” said Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal following the game. “He’s the one that’s leading but we’re not going to let that die. We’re going to keep that engaged and rolling as we get into the summer.”

Brown was far from the only Duck to shine on Saturday as many of the younger players stepped up and showed that they had potential to make an impact this coming season. 

Offensively several young receivers looked poised to demand reps this fall. 

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Kris Hutson looked impressive finishing the day with three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown from Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Jay Butterfield. 

Fellow receiver Troy Franklin totaled four catches for 93 yards. Franklin, a true freshman and former four-star recruit, made explosive plays, one of which nearly netted him a touchdown before he was knocked out of bounds. 

On the defensive end the Ducks proved they have got real talent. 

Redshirt freshman and former five-star recruit Justin Flowe looked impressive at linebacker. After being sidelined with injury throughout 2020, Flowe made an immediate impact when thrown into action, accounting for five tackles, a pass breakup and a sack all while looking extremely quick and strong on the field. 

True freshman corner Donte Manning recorded the only interception of the day sniffing out a trick play and making a move on a ball thrown by receiver Mycah Pittman. Manning also compiled four total tackles as well. 

The game came down to a final drive led by dual-sport athlete Robby Ashford. Ashford, who splits time between being a quarterback for Mario Cristobal and a center fielder for the Oregon baseball program, had the opportunity to win the ball game late. 

Trailing 27-34, Ashford hit true freshman wide receiver Dont’e Thornton for the touchdown. Behind by one, the offense elected to go for two and succeeded. Ashford called game, diving for the pylon and securing the win in walk-off fashion. 

Following the game Mario Cristobal said, “[I’m] Really excited about our progress, knowing that we still have a long way to go, but certainly pleased with the fact that there was added talent that added to the competition at just about every position on the football field.”

Oregon Ducks football will return to Autzen stadium on Sept. 4 when Fresno State comes to town for the first game of the 2021 season.

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