David A. Willauer-Contributing Writer-Petco Park-San Diego, CA-Wednesday, December 28, 2022-The Oregon Ducks made their 3rd Holiday Bowl Appearance and found a way to win on quarterback Bo Nix’s(205 yards passing)threw the game winner a 6 yard touchdown to wide receiver Chase Cota (42 yards receiving) with 19 seconds left in the game after trailing 24-14 came back and defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels by a 28-27 score.
BO NIX on the game winning touchdown to Chase Cora: “Yeah, of course. One of those plays where we practiced a lot over and over and over. Coach Lanning is not going to it like if I say that, but we hit that play in practice a lot. It’s an option route, and there’s eye lot of different angles so it’s hard to stop from a defensive point of view.As much as we hit that, that’s where my mind went at fourth and 2 from the 4 yard line. That’s where I wanted to call my plays because we had the most reps at it, and I know exactly where each guy is going to be.
Chase did a good job of getting over across the field in man coverage and looking the ball in and catching it, and getting in the end zone. Extremely proud of Chase. He deserved that.“
DAN LANNING Oregon Coach on the win: “ What a fun group to share a stage with right now. I’m thrilled and excited for our team. North Carolina is a great team. They fought. That was a game that came down to the very last second, as we all know. We talked about it going into the game that we played 720 minutes of football this season, and we had to play 60 more, and we played all 60 of it.
So couldn’t be more proud as a testament to our player’s and how hard they work. In the coaching profession no one is more respected than Mack Brown. You hope that you can just coach long enough to halfway resemble what he has done as a head coach, so I have ultimate respect for him and their program and what they’ve done.
Real proud of our players to be able to cap this season off. We talked about coming in tonight and really finishing the season with not a period, but an exclamation point, and I would say that was an exclamation point.“
“Bucky Irving led the Ducks at 10-3 in rushing with 149 yards, with 2 touchdown runs of 2 yards for Oregon’s first lead at 7-0; the second on a 66 yarder which is the third longest run in Holiday Bowl history put Oregon up 14-7.“
This is Oregon’s 3rd appearance in the Holiday Bowl the other years were 2000 when they played Texas and won 35-30 and 2008 where they defeated Oklahoma State 42-31.
This is the first time that the Holiday Bowl has been played at Petco Park. Didn’t play in 2021 due to COVID.
Elijah Greene led the Heels in rushing with 17 carries for 53 yards, quarterback Drake Maye rushed for 68 yards, with 206 yards passing; threw 3 touchdown passes of 6 yards to AJ Greene (26 yards receiving);14 yards to Bryson Nesbit (37 yards receiving); 49 yards to Kobe Paysour (98 yards receiving).
MACK BROWN: “It was an outstanding trip for our guys. They had a great time, new experiences. Most of our guys had never been to California, and the weather is great. The bowl was great. The volunteer red coats treated our guys with respect. It was organized it, and they had a good week. They prepared well. they practiced well during the week, unlike last year. We were ready to play tonight. Played our hearts out.“
“Very disappointed that we didn’t win, but got to make a play here or there, and they’re a great football team, nobody gave us a chance in the game, and we had a chance with one second left. That’s all we could ask for in this situation.“
So proud of this team, finishing with a 9-5 season. we could have won 11 or 12 games. Most of the players are coming back, so it looks great for next year. I love these young guys. The saddest thing for me is that they played their hearts out, and they’re one point away from winning the game. They had a great time and feeling great about themselves.
That’s one of the very difficult things about sports because there were actually two winners out there tonight because they played their hearts out, and I’m really, really proud of the way they played.
“I told them that. I said if we had stopped the fourth down play, I would be happier if we had won, I would be even happier for our fans, and our administration. I wouldn’t feel any different about them. They gave everything they had. We had a Gradute Assistant coaching our offensive line. We had a guy calling plays that’s never called plays before. We had guys that weren’t even here. and even started two freshmen in the secondary.”
I was a little disappointed in the loss, but I thank the Holiday Bowl, and proud of our guys. Coaches, players, everybody came out here to win, and they gave it everything they had.”
Q. Can you talk about Drake Maye’s performance today? He threw two touchdowns and kept you in the game.
MACK BROWN: Drake is an absolutely amazing person. He is better person along with being one of the best quarterbacks in the country. They put on a show that everybody thought they would put on it..
For North Carolina 9-5 this is their first appearance in the Holiday Bowl