Utes Storm Past Beavers 19-14
A month ago, Utah running back Joe Williams retired from football. But when 4 other Ute backs also went down, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and assistant coach/running backs coach Dennis Erickson asked Williams if he would consider coming out of retirement the first of the week.
Oregon State doubtless wishes J. Williams had stayed retired. After a week’s practice, J. Williams ran for 179 yards and a touchdown to lead Utah through today’s storm and the Beavers to a 19-14 win.
The day’s predicted foul weather kept many ticket holding fans away (the ticket distribution was 32,093, but the crowd couldn’t have exceeded 25K), and they didn’t see the weather that wasn’t as bad as it could have been at times, but was nevertheless the biggest factor in the game.
The combination of wet footballs and winds that surpassed 30 mph and were also swirling limited Utah quareterback Troy Williams to a 4 of 13 day, for only 42 yards, though he did run for the 8 yard touchdown, below, that turned out to be the game winner with just over 3 minutes left in the game.
Oregon State’s Darell Garretson only completed 1 of his first 16 throws, before recovering to complete 3 of 4 before being knocked out of the game with an ankle injury.
Only 3rd string OSU quarterback Marcus McMaryion, above, who came on late in the game, and after the brunt of the storm has passes, after Conor Blount, who took over for Garretson, was also knocked out with a knee injury, had much success throwing. McMaryion led a late Beaver rally, and completed 5 of 9 passes, for 76 yards, including a 14 yard touchdown toss to Hunter Jarmon, below, that pulled Oregon State within 19-14 with 1:40 left in the game. It was only Jarmon’s second catch of the season.
However, the Beavers couldn’t execute the ensuing on-side kick, and the Utes ran off most of the remaining time on the clock, not giving the ball back until there were only 37 seconds left, despite the Oregon State defense stopping J. Williams, and the Utes, on 4th and 1, throwing J. Williams backward.
There would be no McMaryion led miracle however, as the Beaver last gasp ended with a holding penalty, and the resulting 10 second runoff, and finally Victor Bolden being thrown out of bounds on a play that shouldn’t have even happened, as the clock had expired.
Utah controlled the game in the first half, and took the lead when J. Williams capped a nearly 5 minute long 72 yard 10 play drive with a 5 yard touchdown run.
The lead grew to 9-0 on the last play of the first quarter. Oregon State, after an incompletion, was forced to punt fighting the wind, instead of working with it. To understand the significance of this, its worth noting that Beaver punter Nick Porebski had previously managed only a 15 yard punt against the wind. Later in the game, he would drive one 56 yards working with the wind.
As the quarter ended, the snap sailed high and wide, and past Porebski, and 35 yards back to the goal loine, before being blown out the back of the end zone, for a safety.
Utah added an Andy Phillips field goal in the second quarter to take a 12-0 lead to the locker room.
Oregon State’s field goal kicker Garrett Owens, normally pretty reliable, had no such success however, missing badly on a late first half field goal attempt, and then hooking/shanking another in the 4th quarter.
The 8 points directly attributed to special teams miscues in a 5 point loss prompted Oregon State head coach to term the day’s special teams effort “a debacle”.
Andersen also termed the offense, which managed only 100 yards through the air, as “not good”, though the Beavers ran for just 3 yards shy of 200 yards, and that was with being docked 35 yards for the punt snap that sailed for a safety.
He did term the gritty performance of the defense as “good”, and there were a number of Beavers who had solid days.
Caleb Saulo and Manase Hungalu were both in on a game high 13 tackles, and both Saulo and Bright Ugwoegbu, who was involved in 11 tackles, recorded sacks. Ugwoegbu, who continues to be a bright spot in the Oregon State defense, also had 2 tackles for a loss, as did Devin Chappell, who also had the biggest hit of the day, knocking the ball loose from Cory Butler-Byrd on a lateral pass, and knocking Butler-Byrd’s mouthpiece about 10 yards from the point of contact in the process.
The problems with the offense were in part due to a series of injuries, though.
Ryan Nall, last week’s hero, above, broke off a 32 yard run on his first carry, but then left and did not return, after re-re-aggravating the same foot injury that’s ended his day early in every game of the season. Team Dr. Aukerman said it might be necessary to sit Nall down for at least a week if his foot is to have any chance to recover.
Artavius Pierce did a good job in relief of Nall again, rushing for 60 yards, and an 18 yard touchdown run in the third quarter, above, which pulled Oregon State within 12-7. But he too left the game, the victim of an undetermined shoulder or collar bone issue.
Victor Bolden wound up being Oregon State’s leading rusher, with 61 yards on 7 fly sweeps, which gave the Utah defense trouble all game long. Bolden, below, also led the Beavers with 3 catches. Seth Collins caught only 2 balls in the stiff breeze.
The injury list is not good, as Garretson was already in the locker room with the doctor after his ankle injury when Blount suffered his left knee injury. The extent of Blount’s injury is unknown, but it was concerning enough that the trainers placed an air cast, and he was on crutches at the end of the game.
Going up against a rested Washington squad (the Huskies had a bye this week, after destroying Stanford and Oregon back to back) that has also remained almost injury free with potentially a 3rd string quarterback and a second or third string running back is not an encouraging prospect.
Even if either Garretson or Blount is able to play next week, it will be interesting to see if McMaryion might get some run. More important, if Garretson or Blount are even questionable, the question becomes whether Andersen will consider burning Mason Moran’s red-shirt should something happen to McMaryion. The only alternative would appear to be to turn to Collins in that event.
Defensively, Noah Robinette, in only his second game, also left, with a significant shoulder injury.
The Beavers dropped to 2-4 halfway through the season, and 1-2 in the Pac-12, while the 21st ranked Utes improved to 6-1, and 3-1 in conference.
But the Beavers did turn in a second consecutive good effort, and the game went down to the end. And while it was far from a “good” game, in terms of being “quality” football, the conditions were a huge issue. Anyone critical of either team’s effort today probably was making that comment from a sports bar, after downing about 3 pitchers, and was not on the wet ground in the wind.
The game ended with many of the players apparently unsure if they wanted to slug someone from the other side, or hug them, but that’s a product of yet another hard fought game in the rivalry between the Utes and Beavers that’s been one of the best in the conference. It was the 3rd time in the last 4 meetings that literally wasn’t decided until the last play.
Cue The Fight Song!
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)