By Chris Hansen
The Associated Press
EUGENE — Marcus Mariota was sharp in his limited appearance in the Oregon spring game on Saturday, throwing a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes to lead the Ducks green team to a 27-7 victory against the grey team.
Mariota, a possible 2014 Heisman Trophy candidate who returned to Oregon for his junior season instead of turning pro this winter, completed 6 of 7 passes for 100 yards and played in the first three series for the green team. He also rushed for 23 yards on five carries.
“It was a lot of fun,” Mariota said. “It was a good foundation for next fall. There were some good things to take out of it.”
None more so than the play of Mariota, who is 23-3 as a two-year starter and coming off a season in which he accounted for 4,380 yards of offense, 40 touchdowns and an Alamo Bowl victory against Texas.
“I thought he did a very nice job,” second-year Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. “Marcus has been outstanding.”
Mariota’s one incompletion Saturday was a throwaway after rolling out of the pocket to avoid a sack. Two plays later he connected with running back Thomas Tyner on a 22-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead with 3:22 to play in the first quarter.
Tyner, a sophomore who rushed for 711 yards and nine touchdowns last season, finished with 58 yards on 10 carries and also had two catches for 26 yards.
Mariota put the green team up 14-0 on their next possession with a 45-yard strike to receiver Devon Allen with 1:15 to play in the quarter.
Allen scored again in the final seconds of the game on a 49-yard TD reception from Damion Hobbs to make it 27-7.
“There were a lot of guys who played well today,” Mariota said. “Devon Allen came up huge today. As we progress, we want to get better and better. This is the standard now. We have to keep improving.”
Jeff Lockie, who is in an ongoing battle with fellow sophomore Jake Rodrigues for the backup quarterback job, put the green team up 21-0 with a 41-yard pass off a fleaflicker to receiver Austin Daich midway through the third quarter.
Lockie finished 7-for-12 passing for 121 yards and the TD. Rodrigues was 7 of 18 for 66 yards and an interception.
“Meh,” Helfrich said to laughter when asked to assess the play of his backup QBs. “I thought a couple of times they absolutely forced it and that’s human nature when trying to win the job with one throw, and that’s the quickest, fastest way to lose it. Those guys are good players and they did a lot of good things during the spring and they wanted to go out and make it happen.”
The grey team finally got on the board late in the fourth on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Taylor Alie to receiver Darren Carrington.
“I thought we were a little bit sluggish today,” Helfrich said. “But overall, we got a lot better through (spring practices). I’m really pleased with where we are.”
Senior receiver Johnathan Loyd, a point guard on the nationally ranked men’s basketball team the past four years, suited up with the football team for the first time and had one catch for four yards and one carry for a four-yard loss. He also saw time as a returner on special teams.
“Johnny’s done a nice job,” Helfrich said. “There’s a few layers of rust that you’re knocking off after not playing football. But just a great attitude and a fun guy to be around.”