Oregon State made progress Saturday night in soggy Seattle, but in the end, it wasn’t enough, and Washington whipped the Beavers for the 9th year in a row. The Huskies got a 27-21 win in new Head Coach Jimmy Lake’s coaching debut, and their first game of the season.
For those who like 50’s football, this game was for you. If you eliminate one 42 yard catch and run, Oregon State’s Tristian Gebbia and Washington’s redshirt freshman Dylan Morris, in his mystery first start, combined to throw for 184 yards. The Beavers and Huskies meanwhile combined to run for 434 yards.
If you don’t like Pac-12 officiating, this game was not for you. Oregon State will decry “the spot”, which not only turned the ball over in a 4 point game inside the Washington 5 yard line, earning comments of “egregious” and “horrible” from multiple national journalists. In truth, it was only the most glaring of several ball spotting excursions.
For fans of targeting, the fact that the game might have been iced by a Pac-12 targeting call, the umteenth of the day, was for you.
Washington will raise questions about the absence of pass interference calls on plays that were much more physical than frequently leads to a rain of yellow flags.
All of it was predictable in a game that was tied or a 1 score game for most of the night, and there was never more than a 10 point difference in the score.
Whether any of it changed the outcome is impossible to know, but it did nothing to help the Pac-12’s reputation.
It also distracts from the fact that the Huskies were the physically dominant team most of the time, and certainly overall, even though the Beavers weren’t beat until Gebbia, on 4th down with a half minute left, hit Nous Keobounnam in the back of the head with a pass, which caromed up into the air, and down into the arms of Asa Turner.
Washington rolled up 408 yards, a 156 yard edge, including out-rushing Oregon State by 100 yards. The Huskies held a 14 minute edge in time of possession, and the Beavers lost the turnover battle 2-0.
Oregon State’s reoccurring problem of starting slow was a problem again, as the Beavers gained all of 12 yards in the first quarter. Yet the Beavers trailed only 10-7 after the first period, though the Huskies would go up 17-7 on Kamari Pleasant’s 15 yard run less than a minute into the 2nd quarter.
Washington completely dominated the first quarter, but a bad snap on a punt led to Hamilcar Rasheed Jr. blocking the kick, which Jaydon Grant scooped up for the first score of the game for Oregon State, and a pair of rain induced dropped passes forced the Huskies to settle for a field goal on their second scoring drive.
The Beavers got their running game going in the 2nd quarter, and put together an 11 play, 80 yard drive that took over 4 ½ minutes, which BJ Baylor capped with a 3 yard touchdown run.
The Huskies reopened the lead to 10 points after a short drive that was set up by Trent McDuffie’s 45 yard punt return, but Oregon State closed the first half with another impressive drive.
Champ Flemings set up the drive with a 42 yard kickoff return, and it took the Beavers less than 2 minutes to march the remaining 56 yards in less than 2 minutes. Jermar Jefferson punched it in from 4 yards out to make the score 24-21 18 seconds before the break.
That score would hold until Washington added a field goal with only 1:45 left in the game.
The first half was played in a steady downpour, which made long passing impossible. There was only 1 pass downfield attempted, a Washington incompletion, and only 3 other passes over 10 yards in length, none for more than 15 yards.
The rain abated during the break, but dry conditions surprisingly didn’t help the passing game much for either team.
Another big Flemings kickoff return, this one for 43 yards, started the second half, but the Beavers starting halves flat persisted, resulting in a 3 and punt.
Another long Husky drive, this one 17 plays in length, covered 85 yards, and chewed up more than half of the 3rd quarter, but the pair of physical pass breakups forced a field goal attempt, which Peyton Henry pulled wide left.
Oregon State started their 2nd drive of the 2nd half with less than 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, and were looking at a 3rd and 1 when the teams switched ends for the 4th quarter.
Jefferson appeared to pick up the first down on 3rd down, but it was close. Oregon State elected to go for the first down instead of settling for a game tieing field goal.
Jefferson initially appeared to have picked up the first down by a foot and a half, but the “spot” occurred, and a lengthy review didn’t change it.
“We were already talking about the first down call when the referee told me they were reviewing the spot,” Oregon State Head Coach Jonathan Smith said.
The next time Oregon State touched the ball, it was on their own 1 yard line, after a Washington punt pinned them deep. The Beavers only managed 1 first down before punting, and the Huskies chewed up nearly half the 4th quarter, and all of Oregon State’s time outs, before having to settle for the final field goal of the game. This after a virtual false start penalty against Washington.
Terrell Bynum’s 42 yard catch and run, behind a near miss at an interception by Grant, by far the biggest single play from scrimmage of the game, keyed the drive.
The Beavers got only to their own 37 yard line before Gebbia’s “interception-off-the-right-guard’s-head” moment.
Jefferson was easily the player of the game, rushing for a game high 133 yards on a game high 21 carries, but the Huskies fleet of 5 backs, led by Sean McGrew’s 91 yards on 9 carries, supplemented by multiple receivers running effective fly sweeps collectively out-ran Oregon State.
Flemings’ 125 kickoff return yards was the Beavers 2nd best weapon after Jefferson.
Bynum had a game high 4 catches, for a game high 66 yards, and added 33 rushing yards on a pair of sweeps, to be the Huskies’ statistical leader.
Morris completed 14 of 24 passes for 141 yards, becoming the 2nd freshman in his first college football game this season to out-perform Gebbia, who completed only 11 of 24 passes, for only 85 yards.
Bradford had 3 catches for the Beavers, but Luke Musgrave managed more yards, 25, on his 2 receptions.
Avery Roberts led Oregon State with a dozen solo tackles, and Isaac Hodgins and Omar Speights also played well for the Beaver defense.
Edefuan Ulofoshio and Elijah Molden were all over the field for the Huskies defensively.
The Beavers fought to the finish, and broke a run of 7 consecutive double digit blowout losses to the Huskies, and covered the spread as a 14 point underdog.
“I know we can play better,” Smith said, “but this team played with a lot of heart.”
The Beavers, though they came close, or closer than in last week’s 10 point loss, or any recent game against the Huskies, were physically dominated on defense, and though the run blocking was solid much of the night, pass protection was anything but, leading to a couple of sacks, and a couple of Gebbia fumbles.
They have now lost 4 games in a row, dating to last season.
Oregon State (0-2) will return home for a 12:30 kickoff next Saturday against California (Covid testing permitting). The Golden Bears play their season opener at UCLA in the morning, in a 9 AM Sunday game hastily arranged after Covid outbreaks at Arizona State and Utah forced the Sun Devils and Utes to have to back out of their originally scheduled games against California and at UCLA, respectively.