CORVALLIS — Oregon coach Mario Cristobal says redshirt freshman running back C.J. Verdell is just “scratching the surface” for what he can become.
Verdell ran for 187 yards and four touchdowns, and he also caught a scoring pass as Oregon defeated Oregon State 55-15 Friday in a Civil War victory that was marred by quarterback Justin Herbert’s first-half injury.
Herbert passed for 102 yards and a touchdown before he appeared to injure his right shoulder or upper arm on a sack and did not return to the game. The Ducks (8-4, 5-4 Pac-12) now await bowl selection having already been eliminated from contention for a berth in the conference championship game.
Verdell’s five touchdowns were the most for a Duck since 2012. Travis Dye ran for 199 yards and two additional touchdowns for Oregon.
“He just keeps on getting better and better,” Cristobal said about Verdell.
The loss ended the season for the Beavers (2-10, 1-8) in coach Jonathan Smith’s first year as coach.
“The game itself, you can look at it from a lot of different reasons for it not going our way — in the run game, both sides of the ball, rough. Opportunity to finish some drives, we didn’t do it. Momentum, never really came on our side,” Smith said. “So that is not the standard. We are going to continue to work and look forward to building on this thing.”
It may have been the final Civil War for Herbert, who could forgo his senior year to declare for the NFL draft. He is widely considered one of the top quarterback prospects, but he could opt to stay at Oregon for the chance to play with his younger brother Patrick, a four-star tight end who has committed to the Ducks.
Herbert was replaced by backup Braxton Burmeister for the second half. Ducks coach Mario Cristobal said afterward he would not have an update on Herbert’s condition until the junior quarterback got back to Eugene for additional tests.
“It didn’t seem like it was too big of a shot, but enough where we had to keep him out,” Cristobal said.
Ducks running back Tony Brooks-James was also injured on the opening kickoff of the second half and returned to the sidelines on crutches with what looked to be a left knee injury.
It also might have been the final game for Beavers quarterback Jake Luton, who passed for 282 yards and two scores. Luton has been beset by injuries during his Oregon State career, including a thoracic spine fracture last season and a high ankle sprain this season. There is a possibility that Oregon State could petition for a sixth year of eligibility for Luton because of medical hardship.
Beavers true freshman running back Jermar Jefferson ran for 64 yards in the loss. Jefferson ranked seventh nationally with 119.6 yards rushing per game going into the Civil War. Isaiah Hodgins had eight catches for 133 yards for Oregon State.
The Beavers gave up 510 total offensive yards to the Ducks, including 392 yards rushing.
“Four hundred yards rushing is something you don’t want, obviously,” Oregon State linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray said. “Definitely we didn’t execute as well as we should have, as well as we could have, as well as we’re able to.”