by Rob Moseley
With the clock winding down in the fourth quarter Saturday night, players on the victorious Oregon sideline were doing what victorious players do: Recounting their favorite moments from the Ducks' soon-to-be-complete 62-38 win over Washington State.
Remarkably, the buzz in those waning minutes of the game didn't focus on Marcus Mariota's 57-yard touchdown run, or one of Byron Marshall's three trips to the end zone, or Terrance Mitchell's pick-six. Rather, the Ducks collectively seemed most impressed with a guy who didn't even touch the ball in crafting one of the game's defining plays.
The player in question was Keanon Lowe, who had a block in the second quarter that sent WSU safety Deone Bucannon caroming into a second Cougar defender, clearing vital room on Thomas Tyner's 66-yard touchdown run. Lowe stood on the sideline during the fourth quarter with two UO linemen, one of whom put his arm around Lowe before admiringly telling him, "That was the best block I've ever seen by a receiver."
Oregon's wide receiver crew is regularly lauded for its contributions as blockers in the run game. Even so, Lowe's block drew praise that went above and beyond the normal plaudits.
"I don't think I've ever seen him deliver a blow like that," senior receiver Josh Huff said. "Especially against a safety like that."
Bucannon, a second-team midseason all-American according to Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, was about 10 yards off the line of scrimmage to the left of Oregon's offensive formation as the play began. Lowe was also to the left of the formation, split out to the sideline with Daryle Hawkins next to him in the slot.
As Tyner took the handoff and ran that direction, Hawkins began blocking a defensive back. The cornerback across from Lowe stayed home to contain the outside, so Tyner cut inside behind the Hawkins block — where Bucannon was crashing down, and a linebacker was sprinting out.
Tyner, Lowe and the two defenders all began to converge on the same spot. But Lowe got there a split-second early and cleared out Bucannon, who took out the legs of the linebacker. Tyner split the blocks provided by Hawkins and Lowe, and was off to the races.
"He's a physical guy," Lowe said of matching up with Bucannon, who at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds has four inches and 25 pounds on Lowe. "You've just got to bring it when you're coming down to crack a safety like that. Just try to bring the wood."
Lowe also had four receptions for 48 yards in the game, including a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Late in the game as they stood on the sideline, one of his teammates told Lowe that he was "more proud of that than the touchdown."
Lowe felt the same way.
"I think that goes for anybody in the group," Lowe said. "We want to get big-time blocks — touchdown blocks — just as much as we want to catch them, if not more so.
"That was definitely the highlight of my day."