Beavers Get Bushwacked by Bears in Strawberry Canyon

Oregon State got jumped early by Cal Saturday afternoon in Strawberry Canyon, and though the Beavers twice rallied when they were on the verge of getting blown out, the Bears countered, and pulled away to a 39-25 win that wouldn’t have been that close but for a questionable spot that negated a knockout punch, and the subsequent decision by Cal to pull off when they could well have piled on.

Too many turnovers were troubling (Oregon State had 3 of them, including one on the first play of the game when Marqez Bimage stripped BJ Baylor that Cal turned into a touchdown less than 3 minutes into the game), and there were also (again) too many (Defensive Coordinator Tim) Tibesar signature turn some primary receiver loose for an undefended touchdown (2 more tonight) coverage scheme failures. And there was too much of the most experienced quarterback in the conference (Cal’s Chase Garbers) to get away with that.

The Beaver defense was shredded by the experienced and mobile Garbers, who converted 13 of 19 third down situations, and repeatedly found something when the bullets were really flying. The result was a balanced Bear attack Garbers directed that ran for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns (58 by Garbers), while Garbers was throwing for 262 yards and 3 more touchdowns. A staggering 517 yards. Compounding the problem for Oregon State, Cal controlled the ball for 8 more minutes of the game, limiting the Beavers’ opportunities to come back.

It’s not as though the Beavers’ effort was lacking, and Oregon State rallied from a 2 touchdown deficit that could have been more had Cal been able to capitalize on the first of Chance Nolan’s 2 interceptions. Nolan’s 32 yard touchdown pass to Trevon Bradford less than a minute before the break made it a 17-10 game at halftime.

California looked like they were going to blow Oregon State out again in the 3rd quarter. Garbers connected with an uncovered Chris Brooks for a 38 yard touchdown pass to cap the first drive of the second half, and after an Oregon State 3 and punt, was on the verge again of opening a 3 score lead, probably a 3 touchdown one.

However, Oregon State’s Ron Harge III made the Beavers’ defensive play of the night, breaking up Garbers’ 30 yard pass to Nikko Remigio, forcing a 48 yard field goal attempt that the Bears’ Dario Longhetto hooled wide left.

Nolan found Champ Flamings, above, for a 40 yard completion, and 6 consecutive rushes later, Deshaun Fenwick’s 4 yard touchdown run had the Beavers back within a touchdown, down 24-17 with just under 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Oregon State forced a California 3 and punt, and the momentum shift made a tieing touchdown appear within reach. But the drive not only stalled, and then the Bears’ Nick Alftin blocked Luke Loecher’s punt.

On the next play, Garbers capped the 3rd quarter with a 38 yard touchdown toss to Trevon Clark, who was undefended down the left sideline, and it was suddenly a 2 touchdown deficit again for Oregon State, down 31-17 headed to the 4th quarter.

Oregon State rallied again though, overcoming a pair of penalties along the way, when Nolan found Bradford again, this time for a 46 yard touchdown pass, above. Nolan’s rollout for a 2 point conversion pulled the Beavers back with 6 points, down just 31-25.

But the Beavers would get no closer. Garbers engineered a nearly 6 minute drive for the touchdown and 2 point conversion, both by Chris Brooks, that rebuilt a 2 touchdown lead.

There was still over 5 ½ minutes left though, but Nolan pass on the next play was picked off by Elijah Hicks. Oregon State would not get the ball back until there was only 1 second left.

Garbers directed a drive that drained Oregon State of timeouts, and then appeared to deliver the knockout punch on Damien Moore’s apparent 57 yard touchdown run. Replay ruled Moore down at the 1 yard line, even though his dive reached the pylon.

California elected to not pile on, with Garbers kneeling 3 times, then running around before lobbing a 4th down toss that hit the Memorial Stadium end zone wall with 1 second left.

Nolan, above, threw for 242 yards, completing 15 of 26 passes for 243 yards, not much less than Garbers, including 6 to Bradford, for a game high 124 yards, and the 2 touchdowns.

The differences though were the 2 interceptions (California had a turnover-free night), the blocked punt, and, most concerning for Oregon State, the Beavers, who entered the game as the conference’s leading rushing team, were held to 134 yards, led by Fenwick’s 48. Baylor was held to just 42 yards.

California’s Chase Garbers and Chris Brooks both had big games against Oregon State.

Meanwhile, Moore rolled up a game high 111 yards for the Bears, and Brooks added 83 more, on a game high 20 carries.

Clark led California in receiving with 90 yards on 5 catches.

California improved to 3-5, and 2-3 in conference, with their second consecutive win. Oregon State missed a chance to ensure a non-losing regular season, and become bowl eligible, and fell to 5-3, and 3-2 in conference, relinquishing their share of the lead in the Pac-12 North in the process.

The Beavers next head to Colorado, 52-29 losers at Oregon today, as the Ducks took sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North, for another late afternoon into the evening event. Fixing a thoroughly out-played and out-coached defense will be the project of the week before taking on the Buffs. But then, it’s been a problem for all of the 3 ½ years that Tim Tibesar has been the defensive coordinator. And in all 3 of Oregon State’s losses this season.

(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)

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