(News4usonline) – The 2022 San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl was wild at the end. You had Pac-12 Conference representative Oregon scrambling to make a comeback. You had North Carolina from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fighting to keep a 10-point lead it had built up.
The end result turned into chaos as No. 15 Oregon tied the ballgame with seconds remaining on the clock. All that remained was for the Ducks to make the obvious point after attempt. Make the kick, Oregon celebrates and the Ducks are headed home as the winner of this exciting college football matchup.
If only it was that simple. Just like the game itself the point after attempt turned into unfolded drama. Instead of making things easy, Oregon placekicker Camden Lewis actually caused a near panic on the Ducks’ sidelines when the football he kicked squirted over to the goalpost and banked in, giving the team a nervous 28-27 lead with 19 seconds left in the game.
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, who passed for 205 yards and two touchdowns, said the comeback by the Ducks was just a team effort.
“Well, it takes 11 guys to buy in and believe on that drive,” Nix said. “And when you are down by I believe it was 10 points, you need to score there. So we knew what we had to do to go down and do that, and we did. Play after play we made sure we went down. There in the second drive, we executed and had some explosive plays.”
The Tar Heels were not able to do anything with those remaining 19 seconds and Oregon wound up 28-27 victors of the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl.
“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,” Oregon head coach Dan Lanning said.
Oregon opened its 2022 season by being blown out in a road loss to No. 1 Georgia. Since that time period, the Ducks have played on fire in stints during the season.
At other times, Oregon did not look like a Top 50 team. Oregon’s win against North Carolina on Dec. 28 was reflective of both the good and bad in how the Ducks played this season.
“I’m thrilled and excited for our team,” Lanning said during his postgame press conference. “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 players and how hard they work.”
After their early season loss to Georgia, Oregon ran off eight straight wins, and it appeared the Ducks had gotten their mojo back. However, late-season stumbles against Washington and Oregon State cost the Ducks an opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl Game. Oregon received and accepted the invitation to play against the Tar Heels in the Holiday Bowl.
And just as they played hot and cold during the season, the same could be said in the way the Ducks played against North Carolina. Up and down. But when the moment counted, Lanning and his players came through after being down 24-14 in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Led by quarterback Bo Nix, the Ducks went ahead for good with 19 seconds remaining in the game. Nix connected with Chase Costa on a 6-yard touchdown pass that put the Ducks ahead of the Tar Heels and completed the comeback.
“Yeah, all we needed was time on the clock. You can’t worry about the past, and you really can’t worry about the future. You have to be in the present,” Lanning remarked. “I thought our team did a good job of being in the present. I thought our players made great adjustments. Some of those drives where we stalled out and didn’t get a first down, our guys believed we’re going to get a stop and have an opportunity to do it again. That’s what it came down to.”
Nix gave a blow-blow account of what transpired for the Ducks on that last drive, and in particular on his touchdown throw to Costa.
“That’s one of our just go-to plays. We feel really good about that play. We’ve run it multiple times. It’s hard to stop against guys and good situations. It puts Troy and T-fer and Chase and those guys in situations to do what they do best. Chase knows over and over that that’s the three. If he gets housed, he is going to get a natural pick there going across the middle, and we thought he did a great job of picking up the protection, and we threw it over the middle and had a completion for a touchdown.”
North Carolina coach Mack Brown is not a fan of the final outcome but thought his team had a chance to pull out the win.
“Very disappointed that we didn’t win, but got to make a play here or there, and they’re a great football team, and 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,” Brown said.
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.