Oregon State got off to a fast start Saturday night against UCLA, and then the Beavers not only repelled the Bruins rally, they pulled away to win 48-31 in the Rose Bowl.
Senior quarterback Jake Luton was spectacular in leading the winning effort, throwing for 5 touchdowns and running for a 6th to cap a 14 play drive that burned nearly 7 minutes, and all 3 of UCLA’s timeouts, to seal the win. Luton also “ran” (got behind a pair of o-linemen and stretched out his 6’6″ frame) for a yard on a 3rd & 1 and a 4th & 1 to keep key drives alive.
Luton threw for 285 yards, completing 18 of 26 passes.
The 6 touchdowns accounted for tied the Oregon State game record, joining Sean Mannion, Derek Anderson, and Terry Baker.
Wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins wasn’t far behind Luton in contending for best Beaver honors, hauling in 10 of Luton’n passes for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns.
And Artavis Pierce put in his bid, with 119 yards rushing and a touchdown on 21 carries, including one for 53 yards that set up a score when the Bruins were threatening to take control of the game.
Oregon State scored on each of their first 3 possessions of the game, aided by an unsuccessful 4th and 1 attempt by UCLA in their own territory, and a trick kickoff, essentially a punt when, after a personal foul on the Bruins put the kickoff at midfield. Punter Daniel Rodriguez bounced the ball on the ground, and kicked it after the bounce. It came down at the Bruin 27, and was recovered by the Beavers’ David Morris.
“We practice that,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith explained. “With the ball at the 50, if it doesn’t work, they are going to get the ball not far from where they would if we kick away. It was the right situation.“
On the next play, Luton found Teagan Quitoriano for a 27 yard touchdown, Quitoriano’s first collegiate career score, to make it 21-0 Beavers.
UCLA rallied back to within 27-10 by halftime, and made things nervous for the Beavers in the third quarter.
After the Bruins marched 75 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter to pull within 10 points, the Beavers went 3 and punt.
But the Beaver defense came up with their 2nd 4th down stop of the game, and 3 plays later, Luton, off play action out of a bunch formation, hit Tyjon Lindsey in stride for his only catch of the game, a 53 yard touchdown that restored a 17 point advantage, 34-17.
That was short-lived, however, as UCLA’s Demetric Felton promptly ran a counter for a 75 yard touchdown run, and it was again a 10 point game, with still over 19 minutes to go.
Luton responded by engineering a 4 minute, 75 yard touchdown drive, capped by Hodgin’s 3rd touchdown catch of the game, covering 22 yards, to put the Beavers ahead 41-24.
Hodgins, as has been the case several times several times this season and last, was a mismatch UCLA had no one that could match up with.
The Bruins once again cut the deficit to 10 points, as backup quarterback Austin Burton, who got the start in the absence of usual UCLA starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson, engineered a 17 play, 75 yard drive, and capped it with a 6 yard touchdown run. Though the drive took 6:38, there was still enough time to complete a comeback had the Bruin defense been able to get a quick stop.
Luton, above, and the Beavers eliminated any chance of that though, with the 7 minute drive that made the score 48-31, and as importantly, with only 1:42 left in the game.
The win was Oregon State’s first against an FBS opponent since last year’s comeback win at Colorado. More notably, it was the second conference win since the end of the 2016 season, and the first conference road win against someone other than Colorado since the win at California in 2013.
It was also the Beavers’ first win over UCLA since they beat the Bruins 27-20 in 2012, also in Pasadena, and their first win over a Chip Kelly coached club.
A significant factor was the Beavers again playing turnover-free. Luton hasn’t thrown an interception yet this season.
The Beavers got the win without Jalen Moore or Nathan Eldridge playing, though both dressed.
The win wasn’t without issues though, as there was a missed PAT, and the defense is still the porous Oregon State defense.
Shemar Smith had a game high 12 tackles, including a game high 8 solo, Hamilcar Rashed Jr. got another sack, and continues to lead the conference in sacks.
But UCLA out-rushed and out-gained Oregon State, piling up 492 yards, 256 on the ground, as Felton ran for 111 yards on 11 carries, and a score, and Joshua Kelly added 74 yards and another touchdown, on 21 runs.
Oregon State totaled 448 yards.
The Beavers put together the win despite giving up 7 more first downs, trailing 27-20, and being at a 10 minute, 40 second time of possession disadvantage. Time and again, the Oregon State defense just couldn’t get off the field. This despite a recording 3 sacks, and 8 tackles for a loss.
But at the end of the evening, with Washington losing 23-13 at Stanford. Oregon State, at 1-1, is alone in 2nd place in the Pac-12 North, behind only Oregon, who beat California 17-7.
The Beavers improved to 2-3 overall, heading home for Homecoming next week against Utah.
The Bruins dropped to 1-5, and 1-2 in conference.