Eugene, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - Marcus Mariota threw for 288 yards with three touchdowns and Byron Marshall had 11 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 6 Oregon Ducks defeated the Utah Utes , 44-21, at Autzen Stadium.
Coming off of its first loss of 2013, at the hands of Stanford, Oregon (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12) shook a sluggish start to outscore Utah 27-14 in the second half.
Oregon moved into sole possession of first place in the PAC-12 North following USC's 20-17 triumph over Stanford on Saturday night.
Utah (4-6, 1-6) pulled to within three points after its first possession of the third quarter but Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas returned the ensuing kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. The Ducks scored 27 unanswered points once Utah cut the lead to a field goal with just 10 minutes left in the third stanza.
Utah's Adam Schulz passed for 157 yards with one touchdown and an interception, while also rushing for 15 yards on five carries and a score. Bubba Poole led the Utes in rushing with 53 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown.
Utah's opening possession began at its 14-yard line after an Oregon punt. Schulz hit Geoff Norwood for 21 yards on 3rd-and-4. After a 15-yard personal foul penalty and a loss of two on first down, Schulz threw an interception at his own 27-yard to give the ball back to the Ducks in Utah territory.
Oregon's high-powered offense struck for the first score of the game three plays later. Mariota completed a 28-yard pass to Pharoah Brown and then found De'Anthony Thomas for an 8-yard score on the following play.
Oregon then drove 54 yards on seven plays down to the Utah 14 on its next possession, highlighted by a 25-yard completion from Mariota to Evan Baylis, and Matt Wogan tacked on a 31-yard field goal.
On 3rd-and-5 from its own 45, Utah's Jake Murphy made a nice one-handed grab for nine yards, which put the Utes into Oregon territory for the first time in the game midway through the second quarter.
Four plays later, Schulz connected with Murphy again, this time for a 34-yard touchdown. Murphy ran a seam route right past the linebackers and Schulz hit him in stride as the tight end rumbled into the end zone.
Leading 10-7, the lethargic Oregon offense scored quickly once again. Mariota hit Bralon Addison on a crossing pattern on the first play of the drive for 57 yards down to the Utah 7-yard line. Two plays later, Mariota completed a pass across the middle to Josh Huff for a 5-yard score with two minutes remaining in the first half.
Utah started the second half with the ball and a penalty gave them a second chance to open with points. Terrence Mitchell knocked a Schulz pass away on 3rd-and-9, but the defensive back was called for a 9-yard pass interference penalty.
Later in the drive on 2nd-and-11 from the Utah 48, Schulz hit a wide open Dominique Hatfield for a 48-yard pitch and catch down to the Oregon 4-yard line.
Schulz plunged in from four yards out on the very next play to pull Utah within three, 17-14, with 10:09 remaining.
Following the Thomas kickoff return for a touchdown, Utah went three-and-out, but pinned Oregon inside its 10-yard line after a 53-yard punt.
Mariota completed a 21-yard pass to Huff on 3rd-and-9 from the Oregon 22 for the Ducks' first third-down conversion of the day midway through the third. After a 5-yard rush, Mariota completed a 23-yard pass to Daryle Hawkins to the Utah 29, and a 15-yard pass interference on the following play placed the ball inside the red zone.
John Mundt was the recipient of the next touchdown when he hauled in a 14-yard pass to extend the Oregon lead to 30-14.
With less than two minutes left in the third, Oregon's Byron Marshall rushed for 21 and 17 yards, respectively, on back-to-back plays with the latter going for six. Marshall willed his way into the end zone, dragging two Utah defenders in from the five, after grabbing a lateral from Mariota.
On Oregon's next march, Marshall added his second touchdown run of the day, a 16-yard scamper on just the fourth play of the possession as Oregon took a commanding 30-point advantage with 12 minutes left in the game.
Poole added a 10-yard touchdown run with six minutes left in the fourth to cut the deficit to 40-21.
Game Notes Oregon has now won 59 consecutive games when leading at halftime, the most in the nation ... Addison paced Oregon receivers with four receptions for 67 yards ... Marshall needs nine more yards to record just nine rushing yards to become the 20th Duck to record a 1,000 yard season ... No Oregon touchdown drive took longer than 1:57 ... Murphy finished with two receptions for 43 yards and the touchdown; he missed the Utes' previous four games with a broken wrist ... Hatfield's 48-yard reception, which was his only catch, led all Utah receivers.