Penix lifts Washington to wild win over Oregon

SEATTLE — Michael Penix Jr. threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Rome Odunze with 1:38 remaining after another debatable fourth-down decision by Oregon, and Camden Lewis missed a 43-yard field goal attempt on the final play as No. 7 Washington held off No. 8 Oregon 36-33 on Saturday in another wild chapter to their heated rivalry.

The 115th matchup between the rivals was the first that featured both teams ranked in the top 10, along with a couple of a couple quarterbacks in Penix and Bo Nix who should contend for the Heisman Trophy.

And it lived up to the hype as perhaps the biggest of all time between the Pacific Northwest foes. The final regular-season meeting before both programs move to the Big Ten next year could be the first of two to decide the last season of the Pac-12 as we know it.

A rematch in the conference title game in Las Vegas is possible. Part I was 60 minutes of intensity, excitement and intrigue.

Penix needed just two plays to go 53 yards in 33 seconds after Oregon was stopped on fourth-and-3 at the Washington 47 with 2:11 remaining. Penix threw a 35-yard strike to Ja’Lynn Polk between two defenders, then hit Odunze on a back-shoulder throw at the goal line to give Washington (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) the lead.

It was Penix’s fourth touchdown pass of the game and his second time connecting with Odunze, who had eight catches for 128 yards.

Nix had one last chance to get the Ducks (5-1, 2-1) into field goal range and reached the Washington 25 with 17 seconds left. Nix missed with his next two passes and on the final play of the game Lewis push the kick to the right setting off a wild celebration of purpled-clad fans pouring onto the field.

Oregon rallied from an 11-point deficit early in the second half and took a 33-29 lead on Jordan James‘ 10-yard TD run with 12:58 remaining. Washington was on the verge of an answer but was stopped on three run plays inside the Oregon 2. Tybo Rogers was stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the Ducks’ 1 with 6:33 left, met by Taki Taimani and others short of the goal line.

Oregon converted a pair of third downs, including a 25-yard catch by Troy Franklin. But the Ducks were stopped on fourth-and-3 just inside midfield when Nix’s pass for Tez Johnson fell incomplete. It was the third time in the game the Ducks failed on fourth down, the previous two coming inside the Washington 10-yard line, including the final play of the first half.

Penix finished 22 of 37 for 302 yards. He threw 26-yard touchdowns to Polk and Giles Jackson during a wild first half where the teams combined for five straight touchdown drives.

Nix started slow but was terrific when he got going. He was 33 of 44 passing for 337 yards and rallied the Ducks from a two-score deficit. Nix threw touchdowns of 11 yards to Patrick Herbert in the first half and a 30-yarder to Franklin in the third quarter. Bucky Irving added 127 yards rushing and a score.

But the decisions of Oregon coach Dan Lanning to go for it on fourth down on three different occasions will be open for debate.

The Ducks failed on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line on the final play of the first half when Nix’s pass was batted away by Dominique Hampton.

Midway through the third quarter, Oregon again went for it on fourth-and-3 from the Washington 9 and Nix’s pass for Franklin fell incomplete.

And then came his choice to go on fourth down in the final minutes, trying to end the game with his offense rather than punting and making Penix go the entire field.

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