While Saturday night’s 37-35 loss at Nevada was a heartbreaker for the Oregon State football team, coach Jonathan Smith appreciated the resilience he saw out of his team.
The Beavers trailed 30-7 just 20 minutes into the game.
But instead of going through the motions and playing out the last 40 minutes, Oregon State mounted a comeback that fell just short when Jordan Choukair missed a game-winning field goal attempt in the closing seconds.
“They’re doing it together,” Smith said when asked where the resiliency came from. “I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from but I know I appreciate their effort for 60 minutes.”
The loss was the 21st straight on the road for the Beavers (1-2), who open Pac-12 play against Arizona at 1 p.m. inside Reser Stadium on Saturday.
Smith said Choukair, who missed two field goals on Saturday, is still his kicker.
"Heck, yeah,” he said, adding he would feel comfortable putting him in the same situation again.
The Beavers once again had a solid offensive game, passing for 459 yards with both Conor Blount and Jake Luton making big plays.
Blount got the start and was replaced by Luton after being sacked and fumbling. The Wolf Pack returned the fumble 48 yards for a touchdown to go up 30-7.
Luton later left the game with an ankle injury and Blount had two fourth-down conversions on the final drive to help set up the field goal attempt.
Smith said bringing Luton in was just a case of trying something different down by 23.
“That’s how we felt going in,” he said. “Conor was going out there and if he was doing some good things we would keep on rolling but we felt great about Jake and so if we wanted a spark we would put Jake in and that’s what we did.
“I think we’ve got two guys that can move the ball.”
Luton finished 23-for-35 passing for 284 yards with a touchdown and interception. Blount was 12-for-20 passing for 175 yards and also had a touchdown and interception.
Isaiah Hodgins didn’t care who was throwing to him as the sophomore receiver tied the school record with 14 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Timmy Hernandez caught 11 passes for 116 yards — both career highs — as the Beavers had two receivers with 10 or more receptions in the same game for the first time since 2008.
Jermar Jefferson had 106 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns, giving him six on the season.
While the offense was rolling, the defense stiffened after a rough start. After giving up 182 yards in the first quarter, the Beavers allowed just 175 the last three quarters.
“You can see some progress defensively,” Smith said. “I was really proud of those guys for keeping us in the game.
“… They just kept on battling. I think, again, we’re about competing and improving week in and week out. Those guys have improved for two straight weeks.”
The Beavers don’t have time to dwell on the missed opportunity with Arizona coming to town. The Wildcats smoked Southern Utah in the second half for a 62-31 win, their first of the season.
“We win and lose together,” Smith said. “It’s kind of like I said to them Day 1 when I got here was, we have to do this thing together.”
NOTABLE: Cornerback Isaiah Dunn was on the active roster for the first time and made his first start. … Tight ends Isaiah Smalls and Quinn Smith both made their first starts of the season. … Offensive lineman Brandon Kipper has been ruled eligible and made the trip. … Kolby Taylor made his first career catch and finished with three for 60 yards.