It wasn’t quite like taking candy from a baby, but it wasn’t far from it Saturday, when Oregon State easily took a 45-7 non-conference win over over-matched Cal Poly. The Mustangs from the FBS Big Sky Conference made a contest of it for a few minutes, but then the game looked so much like so many of the Beavers games in recent times, where one team at a wholly different talent level did mostly what they wanted against a game but out-manned opponent. But instead of being on the deficient end of the deal, Oregon State was the team that was clearly superior.
It didn’t even matter that the Beavers were without starting running back Jemar Jefferson, whose’ foot was in a boot much of the week, a fact the Oregon State kept under wraps until game day. Or that WR Tyjon Lindsey, who started the first 2 games of the season in place of still missing Trevon Bradford, was also not available.
Nor did it matter that starting left guard Gus Lavaka and rotation DB Kaleb Hayes had to watch the decisive first half from the locker room, serving suspensions after separate fist-flying incidents in Hawaii in last weeks’ game.
The absence of both inside linebackers Addison Gumbs and Matthew Tago, both injured in last lweek’s loss, with Gumbs lost for the season, were contributors to a bit of a problem the Beavers had with the Mustang’s triple option rushing game. But not to the point of it being anything other Oregon State players were able to eventually handle.
That’s not to say these issues won’t be a much bigger concern when the Beavers begin Pac-12 play in 2 weeks, after next week’s well timed bye, against Stanford. But against a Big Sky opponent that isn’t one of that conference’s best, the differences in size, speed, and depth across the roster were just too overwhelming.
Oregon State got off to a fast start, which has become one of the pleasant improvements this year over last year, when the Beavers were notorious for starting slow. In all 3 games so far this season, Oregon State has not only scored first, they have done so in convincing matter on their first possession of the game.
Jake Luton capped a game opening 3 1/2 minute 74 yard drive with an 8 yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Hodgins, above. Hodgins, who would haul in a game high 7 receptions, is a physical mismatch most teams, especially those from lower competition levels, simply can’t matchup with.
Cal Poly, which not only runs the uncommon in modern times triple option, but also can and will throw over the top, is notoriously difficult for opponents to prepare for, and the difference in looks and responsibilities they present confused Oregon State initially.
A complete coverage blow allowed Jalen Hamler to connect with JJ Koski, above, for a 53 yard completion down to the Oregon State 10 yard line. Another even more significant coverage lapse allowed an uncontested touchdown toss to Xavier Moore, below, 3 plays later.
The tie sent a murmur around the 1/3 full Reser Stadium (the announced ticket distribution of 33,585 easily included more no-shows than bodies actually in the premisis), but it didn’t cause Luton any concern.
Luton, above, proceeded to throw another touchdown pass to Hodgins, below, this one from 11 yards out.
On the next Beaver drive, jump started by a 25 yard run by Artavis Pierce, above, Luton connected with Champ Flemings for a first and goal at the Mustang 6, and BJ Baylor finished off the drive with a 6 yard touchdown run for a 21-7 Oregon State lead.
After a Mustang fumble, the next Beaver drive resulted in a Jordan Choukair 26 yard field goal.
After Cal Poly missed an attempt at a countering field goal, Luton then quickly connected with Flemings for 2 more touchdowns.
The first one was a spectacular play (see the story lead picture above), where the dimunitive 5’5″ Flemings elevated above taller Cal Poly defender Carter Nichols, who initially appeared to have intercepted the ball, and snatched it out of the Mustang’s grasp for the score.
The next one, above, was much easier, as a Cal Poly coverage breakdown allowed an uncontested 75 yard touchdown 21 seconds before halftime.
And just like that, it was 38-7 Beavers at the break, and the game was effectively over.
Backup Beaver quarterback Tristan Gebbia took over just past the middle of the 3rd quarter, and wisely handed off to Baylor. A great block by Hodgins cleared the way for Baylor to sprint past most of the Mustangs for a 74 yard run, below.
Gebbia put a bow on the win with the touchdown run on a roll-out, below.
Gebbia would throw a 4th quarter interception for the first turnover the Beavers have surrendered this season, but the second half was about killing off a lot of clock while getting backups some valuable rep, and not getting anyone hurt, something Oregon State did a pretty good job of.
Luton, below, finished 17 completions on 22 throws, for 255 yards, and the 4 touchdowns.
Flemings had 5 catches for a game high 142 yards, and 2 of the scores, and a 66 yard kickoff return. Pierce had 90 yards on 12 carries, and Baylor ran for 101 on just 7 carries.
Defensively, John McCartan did a good job of leading the revamped Oregon State linebacking group, with a team high 6 solo tackles, and 6 more assists, getting in on a game high 12 tackles.
It wasn’t all rosy for Oregon State though, as there were some missed opportunities, like the missed td chance above.
Cal Poly running back Duy Tran-Sampson, below, ran for a game high 137 yards, on a game high 29 carries.
In total, Cal Poly ran for 203 net yards, but it took the Mustangs 58 runs to do so, an average of just 3.5 yards per carry. And they had to overcome 3 sacks. Notably, Oregon State did not suffer any sacks on the day.
Hamler only completed 5 of 10 passes, and the Beaver defense allowed only 315 yards.
Some of the runs were fairly gashing, and Oregon State will have to continue to improve to contain Pac-12 offenses. But the Beavers improved to 1-2 heading into their bye, at the expense of the Mustangs, who dropped to 1-2, and all that was left was to cue the fight song!
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)