Oregon State continued its run of changing recent, and not so recent, trends, ending another major losing streak, this one 9 straight losses to Washington, most of them in blowout fashion, Saturday night with a 27-24 win over the Huskies.
It took an all-night effort by the Beavers, who came from behind multiple times, including in the 4th quarter, and a 24 yard field goal by Everett Hayes as time expired, to overcome the Huskies, in what turned out, thanks to Stanford’s controversial 31-24 overtime win over third ranked Oregon, to be a straight up dog fight for sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North.
Washington struck first, when Husky QB Dylan Morris found Terrell Bynum on a crossing route, and Bynum turned on the jets, above, to outrun the Oregon State defense for a 44 yard touchdown not 3 minutes into the game to cap the opening drive of the evening.
It took until early in the second quarter for the Beavers to pull even, using their tried and true Jack Colletto package to even it at 7-7 on Colletto’s 3 yard scoring run, above.
The 3 play drive came after Rejzohn Wright recovered a Cameron Davis fumble on the first play of the second quarter, and wiped out what looked like was going to be a possibly game-altering sequence featuring an egregious officiating error, followed by a bad-rule induced replay failure.
After Oregon State had driven deep into Washington territory, Chance Nolan rolled out to his right, and leaped out of bounds, but while still air born, threw a completion for a first down. It was ruled an incompletion, and a sack, even though Nolan wasn’t down on the ground yet when the pass was released.
Compounding the problem, while whether a receiver or a defender was actually in or out of bounds when making a play is reviewable, it is not reviewable whether a passer is actually in or out of bounds when they throw a pass. Add that to the needed rules changes.
That cost the Beavers and first down and a time out, and to make matters worse, Hayes hooked the resulting 39 yard field goal attempt from the right side of the goal post wide left.
It wouldn’t be the last controversial spotting issue of the night, but save that for the discussion of the key play of the game that happened in the 4th quarter.
In the meantime, Oregon State took a 14-7 lead on their next drive, when BJ Baylor broke thru for a 5 yard touchdown run, above. It capped a short field drive, set up by Trevon Bradford’s 24 yard punt return, and an additional 5 yards when Washington player was penalized for running out of bounds on the opposite side of the field, over 40 yards away from the play.
Hayes’ end of game field goal wasn’t the only clock management score of the night, as Washington pulled within 14-10 at the break, when Peyton Henry connected from 20 yards out, capping a Husky drive that covered 68 of the 70 yards in front of them, and the last 3:10 of the 2nd quarter.
The only scoring of the 3rd quarter was Hayes’ 29 yard field goal that opened a 17-10 lead, nearly 2/3 of the way thru the period and the game.
The game swung in Washington’s favor early in the 4th quarter when the Huskies’ Sean McGrew scored twice in 3 plays, 11 clock seconds (even if it took 5 minutes to actually happen) apart.
With Morris struggling to throw, and their running game not really finding much traction, Washington switched to their version of the “Colletto package”, with RB McGrew taking direct snaps. McGrew rolled down the Husky sideline for a 39 yard touchdown to tie the score at 17 apiece.
After a touchback kickoff, Oregon State QB Chance Nolan underestimated 305 lb. Husky DT Faatui Tuitele’s speed, and fumbled while being sacked, run down from behind on a rollout.
McGrew took another direct snap 6 yards to the house for the go-ahead touchdown on the next play.
As they had done in the 2nd quarter, Oregon State immediately answered a seemingly game changing sequence with another scoring drive of their own.
Nolan connected with Anthony Gould, the breakout star of the win over Hawaii, with 19 & 22 yard completions, 2 of only 7 completions Nolan had on the night, which accounted for over 80% of the nights’ passing yards for Oregon State. That set up Baylor’s second scoring run of the night, a 27 yard romp and stomp, below, that tied the game at 24 apiece with 6:35 to go.
It was an ugly night for both offenses, though both the Beaver and Husky defenses deserve a lot of the credit for that. But the loud but surprisingly small crowd of barely 30,000, of an announced ticket distribution of only 33,733, saw a battle of 2 of the toughest backs around in McGrew and Baylor.
Both scored 2 touchdowns, and both produced 111 yards, McGrew 104 on the ground, and 7 more on 2 catches, while Baylor had a game high 111 yards on a game high 20 carries.
But it was McGrew getting nicked up that contributed directly to the next game swinging play.
Washington was methodically marching for what they planned to be the game winning field goal, as Kamari Pleasant amassed 18 yards on 3 carries, but McGrew ran into Oregon State LB Avery Roberts, who was in on a co-game high 16 tackles, 7 solo, on consecutive plays. It set up a 4th and 1 on the Washington 46, that also saw McGrew go off the field, as the Huskies gambled the game on a QB keeper by Morris.
That ended in a mass of Husky and Beaver bodies heaped on the logo, and no way to be certain of where Morris wound up. One replay looked like Morris might have made it before being pulled back, but no replay was conclusive, and absent a drone hovering directly over the pile none could have, and the spot that the Huskies had cone up inches short stood.
“There wasn’t a bigger play in the game,” Oregon State Coach Jonathan Smith said. “Everyone, I assume in the stadium, knows they’re going to run quarterback sneak. We owned the line of scrimmage.”
The Beavers ran 5 straight times to the Husky 8, and then Nolan centered the ball squarely in front of the goal post, forcing the Huskies to burn time outs to try to have a chance for a last possession, and answering score. Nolan then rammed ahead to shorten the field goal, and Oregon State then took the clock down to 3 seconds to set up Hayes’ effort, which ended the 9 game losing streak, and triggered an orange avalanche onto the Reser Stadium field.
“I was 100 percent confident that I was going to go out and make it,” Hayes said. “As a kicker, you really look forward to those type of moments. You get to impact the game and it’s a lot of fun.”
“It’s what you always dream about playing college football,” Oregon State safety Alton Julian said. “I always wanted to be a part of a team rushing the field. I rushed the field when I was a kid. It was just lovely out there, bunch of fun.”
“Been through a lot here. Took a lot of Ls,” Jaydon Grant added. “Close, heartbreaking losses as well. So to be on the flip side means everything.”
Morris struggled, completing only 16 of 25 passes, for 98 yards outside of the early scoring strike to Bynum. Nolan, below, had an even harder time, and saw his nearly 80% completion rate take a hit, with a below 50% 7 of 15 night, though he did add 30 yards on 9 carries. Not unexpected against the always tough Washington secondary.
“The kid is competitive,” Smith said about Nolan. “He responded. We needed to answer. He did not have his A game, but at the end of it, he found a way to help us win.”
But it was a Beaver win, in a game that had an atmosphere not seen in a long time at Reser. And Oregon State, with their 4th straight win improved to 4-1, and 2-0 in the Pac-12, before heading to next Saturday’s 1 PM game at Washington State, who improved to 2-3, and 1-2 in the Pac-12, with a 21-6 win over California in Berkeley. It will be Homecoming for the Cougars.
The Beavers are alone in first place in the Pac-12 North for the first time since divisions were instituted, will be looking to snap another long losing streak, having lost 7 in a row to the Cougars.
“Couldn’t be more proud of the way we continued to fight,” Smith said. “We did not play our best in some areas, but you just keep responding and you play for 60 minutes. I totally thought they did that.”
Cut the fight song!
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)