Last November, Oregon State beat a beat up Arizona team 42-17 in Corvallis. Going into tonight’s rematch in Tucson, most folks were expecting a similar score, except with the teams reversed.
And that was about what happened, as the ‘Cats literally ran over the Beavers for a 49-28 win, though that did represent the smallest of victories for Oregon State under interim coach Cory Hall, as the line was 22 points, so the Beavers did cover.
That’s about it though, and it was effectively over by halftime. Arizona, led by Heisman hopeful Khalil Tate, set the tone for the evening early, which was one of the ‘Cats literally shredding the Beaver defense.
A Shawn Wilson touchdown averting interception not withstanding, the ‘Cats still thoroughly dominated the first half, and they did it on the ground.
Tate was over 100 yards rushing in the first quarter, as Arizona opened a 14-0 lead, and JJ Taylor joined him over the century mark in the second quarter, as the ‘Cats opened a 28-0 lead, having already piled up 329 yards of rushing yards.
Both Zach Green, above, and Tony Ellison, below breezed by the Beaver defense for first half scores.
Meanwhile, the Beavers were totally ineffective offensively, and ran for only 38.
It was the first time Arizona had shut out anyone in the first half since the 2013 season opener against Northern Arizona, and the first first half shutout of a Pac-12 opponent since they did in at Washington State in 2010, during the depth of the Paul Wulff era.
Oregon State didn’t quit though, and started the second half with a strong drive, overcoming a penalty that wiped out a big completion, to break up the shutout when Darell Garretson found Noah Togiai for a 15 yard touchdown.
Arizona answered with a 2 play scoring drive of their own, including a 71 yard scoring scamper by Tate.
The Beavers continue to play hard for Coach Hall, and capitalized on the wearing affects of having Ryan Nall, Thomas Tyner, and Togiai continually hammering on the fleet, but young and undersized Arizona defense. And it paid off with an 8 play, 75 yard scoring drive, which Garretson capped with a 6 yard scoring toss to Isaiah Hodgins that made it 35-14.
But it didn’t matter who Arizona put in on offense, as the Oregon State defensive front couldn’t seal gaps, and the same issues with an over-stressed linebacker crew that isn’t fast enough on the inside persisted, as the ‘Cats continued to out-flank the Beavers, and rebuilt their lead to 4 touchdowns by the end of the 3rd period.
Garretson directed a 10 play, 75 yard scoring drive on the Beavers’ first possession of the 4th quarter, finding an uncovered Timmy Hernandez after no one on the ‘Cats defense did for a 15 yard touchdown.
Arizona pulled Tate, but Brandon Dawkins, who was the Cats’ starter until getting knocked out of the Colorado game was just as effective, directing a 7 play 75 yard scoring drive he personally capped with a touchdown run of his own.
The Beavers pulled within 3 scores when Garretson tossed his 4th scoring pass of the night, this one for a 44 yard catch and run by Nall, but it was far too little, and far too late.
Tate finished with 206 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Taylor added another 129 on the ground. Nick Wilson got over the century mark as well, with 101 as Arizona set a school record for rushing yards, with 534 yards, and all 7 of their touchdowns on the ground.
The Oregon State defense wound up yielding 602 total yards.
“There’s a few games that were kind of redemption games for us,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “We didn’t just get beat, we got beat bad. You’ve gotta deal with that for a whole year. I mentioned that a couple times this week.”
Nall fell just short of the century mark, with 95 yards rushing on 22 carries, but he added 40 yards receiving. Tyner added 42 on the ground, and Togiai led the Beavers in receiving yards, with 56. Hodgins had a game high 4 catches, but for only 34 yards.
The Beavers ran for 151 yards, and Garretson completed 16 of 28 passes, 57%, for 209 yards, and the 4 scores, though he did have one interception.
Oregon State’s game plan wasn’t bad, as accurate passing would have pumped up the offensive numbers. Jordan Villamin had a fairly long catch, but came down out of bounds, and the Beavers messed up the execution of both a 3rd and 1 and a 3rd and 2 situation.
Defensively, the Beavers were out-flanked and out-ran repeatedly. The ‘Cats were so efficient with their rushing game that they set their school record despite an 7 1/2 minute deficit in time of possession.
The absence of Bright Ugwoegbu during the first half due to a targeting penalty in the second half of last week’s loss at California didn’t help, and once he returned, it wasn’t long before Manase Hungalu left with an injury, and didn’t return.
Arizona improved to 7-3, and 5-2 in the Pac-12, and in second place in the Pac-12 south, behind USC. The Trojans locked up the south and a spot in the Conference Championship game in Santa Clara in 3 weeks with a 38-24 win at Colorado earlier today.
Oregon State dropped to 1-9, and 0-7 in the Pac-12. It was the Beavers’ 18th road loss in a row, all but one of which have been by a double digit deficit. The program literally has no clue as to how to even play competitively away from Reser.
The Beavers return home for Senior Day and Family Day next Saturday at noon, against Arizona State. The Sun Devils (5-5, 4-3), lost an early lead tonight in the Rose Bowl, as UCLA came from behind for a 44-37 win.
(Images by Andy Wooldridge)