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Oregon cruises in rout of Arkansas State

Marcus Mariota was the first freshman starting quarterback at Oregon in more than two decades.

What a debut.

No. 5 Oregon scored a touchdown on all seven possessions with Mariota at the helm in the first half Saturday on the way to a 57-34 rout of Arkansas State that wasn't as close as the final score.

Mariota, who beat out sophomore Bryan Bennett for the starting job, threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

"Marcus showed a great deal of poise out there," said Ducks coach Chip Kelly. "It was really fun to watch him play tonight."

Oregon (1-0) led 50-3 when Mariota came out midway through the second quarter. Bennett finished the game, passing for 108 yards and a touchdown with one interception.

De'Anthony Thomas had two touchdown catches and one rushing TD and Kenjon Barner ran for a pair of scores.

Ryan Aplin passed for 304 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for Arkansas State (0-1). Julian Jones had a 72-yard touchdown catch for the Red Wolves of the Sun Belt Conference and Aplin added a score on the ground.

Rob Beard missed a 35-yard field goal try with under four minutes to go in the first half and Bennett was intercepted on the next Oregon possession.

Before that, all seven drives ended in a touchdown with one two-point conversion.

In fact, the Ducks had a 22-0 lead with barely seven minutes gone in the game.

Mariota and Barner led a 73-yard drive to open the quarter and Barner scored the first touchdown on a 4-yard run. Mariota was 3-for-3 on the drive for 56 yards.

"Marcus is a great quarterback. He led the team down the field on that first drive like it was nothing, like he had been there before," said Barner. "It's what we've come to expect of him. That's how he carries himself in practice.

"Him doing that? It wasn't a surprise to any of us."

Thomas caught a tipped 12-yard pass in between two defenders in the front of the end zone and Mariota found Josh Huff for a 4-yard touchdown pass after a Red Wolves fumble to make it 22-0.

Barner had a 17-yard touchdown run to make it 29-0 before the end of the first quarter.

"It was a tough first quarter, no doubt," said Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn.

Mariota and Thomas hooked up for a 12-yard score after a 43-yard Brian Davis field goal for Arkansas State, giving the Ducks a 36-3 advantage.

After Aplin was picked off by John Boyett, Thomas rushed for a 33-yard score and Byron Marshall added a 3-yard rushing score for Oregon's 50-3 lead.

Aplin and Jones connected on the game's longest scoring play, a 72-yard pass that got Arkansas State within 50-10 at halftime.

Aplin later threw TD passes of six yards to Josh Jarboe in the third quarter and 38 yards to Carlos McCants in the fourth. He also ran for a 1-yard score in the final quarter.

Bennett's touchdown pass was for seven yards to Rahsaan Vaughn in the fourth.

Game Notes

Oregon went 12-2 last season and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl ... The Ducks outgained the Red Wolves 605-530 yards but that included advantages of 201-85 yards in the first quarter and 417-228 in the first half.