Beavers Snap Long Losing Streaks At Bears Expense
Oregon State came into Saturday riding a 12 game losing streak against FBS opponents, and a 12 game losing streak in Pac-12 games as well. Fortunately for the Beaves, it was California who came to town. The Bears have long been one of Oregon State’s favorite victims, and since Sonny Dykes arrived in Berkeley, his combination of curious play calling and a commitment to playing defense only on a few rare occasions has continued to provide a respite for struggling programs.
The trend continued, as does #Pac12LongAfterDark, which California games, even ones that begin in the daylight always wind up being, and the associated craziness.
So it was again, as the Beavers led almost wire to wire, before the Bears came roaring back to tie the game, force overtime, and even take their only lead of the game, which pushed past the 4 hour length mark at that point, only to see the Beavers bounce back, as Darell Garretson sprinted undefended through the middle of the Bear secondary for the touchdown that produced a 47-44 win, and set off a celebration the like of which have not been seen in Reser in several seasons.
Games not going as exactly as expected have become a fairly regular theme recently at Reser, and this was not only no exception, it will qualify as one for the ages.
The game did go as expected in at least one sense; it was the 5th Cal-OSU game in a row where the winner scored at least 45 points. In this case, The Beavers needed every one of theirs.
But its not often that Oregon State, or anyone, wins when they allow 2 opposing runners to run for well over 100 yards, as Khalfani Mujammad and Tre Watson did, picking up 165 & 134 yards respectively, for 3 touchdowns.
But then its also not often that anyone runs for 474 yards, least of all the Beavers, who have only done so 3 times in history previously, and never against a conference opponent. Further, that conference opponent that the old record of 470 yards came against was Idaho, and it was in 1942 when that happened.
But when Ryan Nall romped for 221 yards, a career high that is the 10th highest rushing total in a game of any Beaver ever, and 3 touchdowns, including an 80 scoring run to start the second half, the odds were in their favor.
Or they were until Nall reinjured the ankle that’s hampered him since during the season opener at Minnesota. So when the game came down to the wire, Nall was on the sidelines, and California erased a 17 point Oregon State lead in the last 7 minutes of the game, conjuring up memories of the Bears’ last visit to Reser, when the Beavers also held a 4th quarter lead only to lose by a double digit, multi-score margin 2 years ago.
But then Garretson, who had hurt California with his running ability all night, pushed his rushing total over the 100 yard mark as well, bolting up the middle for 16 yards and his second score of the game, below.
“I’ve never in my life envioned myself running for a touchdown in overtime,” Garretson said. “That was pretty sweet, I don’t think anything tops that.”
While it was somewhat a of a surprise that Oregon State ran for as much as they did, more than in any game in the Gary Andersen era, including games against bad FCS teams, it was however fully expected that the Beavers would at least get some serious work done against the Bears.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utes, who just happen to be the Beavers next opponents next Saturday afternoon, would differ, after California stunned the football world with a goal line stand last week to hold on to a 28-23 win, but the Bears rank 14th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense (counting also Boise St. and BYU, who have multiple Pac-12 games already in their record this season as well), and Oregon State took full advantage.
Beaver Defense Bearish On Bear Raid
What was not expected was the job the Oregon State defense, torched for over 550 yards and 4 touchdowns the last 2 weeks in blowout losses to Boise State and Colorado, would totally throttle the Bear Raid air game.
Davis Webb, the senior/grad school transfer from Texas, who entered the game as the leading passer in the country, was held to 113 yards, and Webb completed only 1 more than half of his 44 passes.
Chad Hansen, the walk-on transfer from Idaho, who only dropped down to being the #2 receiver in FBS after encountering the Utah defense last week, was held to only 4 catches, for only 16 yards.
And it was the Beavers who recorded the only sack of the game, their first since Idaho State, and also the first time the o-line has kept their quarterback from being sacked all season.
It was far and away the best job the Oregon State offensive line has done under Andersen, as the reshuffling of the line after the return of Sean Harlow bore fruit. (Why did Andersen try to bank Harlow for next year for the first quarter of the season?)
But the real work was done by the Beaver secondary, led by Tristan Decoud, breaking up a pass for Hansen above, but with tremendous help from Xavier Hawkins, who had 10 tackles, and a game high 3 pass breakups, and linebacker Caleb Saulo, who was in on a game high 13 tackles, as well as the hurry of Webb, below.
The Beaver defense also withstood a 19 play drive that consumed over 6 1/2 minutes in the second quarter, and included a first down on a fake punt pass by Dylan Klumph, forcing the Bears to settle for a field goal. The Beavs Alu Aydon actually partially blocked it, but it still grazed off the cross-bar. It would turn out to be vital hours later, as the Bears rallied to tie the game.
Things weren’t all rosy for Oregon State though, as while Garretson was a force with his feet, he too only completed only 1 more than half of his passes, and for only 85 yards, 20 less than he ran for.
And as noted, a 17 point 4th quarter lead got away. Neither will be good enough the next couple of weeks.
But the game didn’t. And that’s what matters the most. And what this team needed the most, with the visit from Utah looming, and then a trip to Seattle in 2 weeks.
The roar from the crowd of just over 34 thousand, and both the Oregon State AND California bands breaking into fight songs, when the final score from Eugene, where Washington beat Oregon 70-21, was the loudest moment of a wild and loud night until the frentic and fantastic finish.
(BTW, the Huskies have next week off, to rest up, and no doubt work on all the rough spots Coach Chris Petersen has a list of, after their back to back wins, the Duck demolition coming on the heels of a total dismantling of Stanford.)
But that’s for the future; the Beavers spent the weekend fittingly celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Oregon State University Marching Band, the oldest band in the Pac-12, with an instant classic win.
Cue the fight song!
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)