No. 16 Oregon State's fate hinged on key plays, mistakes

CORVALLIS — How bad did things get for Oregon State on Saturday at Reser Stadium?

On Oregon's final touchdown of the Pacific-12 football game, when quarterback Marcus Mariota found wide receiver B.J. Kelley gliding across the back half of the end zone, there were two penalty flags on the field: offside, Oregon State; and 12 men on the field, Oregon State.

So the Beavers got an early start, had an extra man, and still couldn't stop the Ducks on the play that made it 48-17. The score ended up No. 5 Oregon 48, No. 15 Oregon State 24 in the 116th Civil War.

OSU has made great strides this season, going from a 3-9 record a year ago to still having a chance to finish 10-3 in 2012. The Beavers still have a ways to go to catch the Ducks, but Oregon State feels it may not be as far as that final score might indicate.

OSU had opportunities to keep the game competitive, but when it came to making some key plays — especially on fourth downs in the first 21/2 quarters — it was Oregon that turned the situations to its advantage and eventually into their usual multi-touchdown victory.

"I think there's a few of those, and I couldn't probably, right at this time (tell you the details) — I'm sure I'll be able to recall them as I watch the film tomorrow," OSU head coach Mike Riley said. "But there's a few of those plays that appeared to be big plays like that ... and I know none of that looks like that when you look at the final score, but they were — we could have changed a lot."

The first of those came on the first play of the second quarter, with Oregon trailing 7-6 and facing fourth down, seven yards to go from the Beaver 38-yard line. Mariota was pressured, scrambled away and hit Will Murphy for an eight-yard game; six plays later, Oregon had a 13-7 lead.

Looking to go back in front, the Beavers then drove to the Duck 34 and had a fourth-and-two, and fullback Clayton York tried the right side of the line and then bounced outside. He was dragged out of bounds by Oregon's Michael Clay and Terrance Mitchell a yard short of the first-down marker; the Ducks scored in seven plays for a 20-7 lead.

The Ducks also scored on a fourth-and-five run by Mariota that covered 29 yards for a 34-17 lead late in the third quarter. For the day, Oregon was 5-for-6 on fourth-down conversions.


TURNED IN A HURRY: Oregon State had reason for optimism in the third quarter, as it opened the period with a 77-yard drive to get within 20-17. One quarter later, it was 41-17 and OSU's chances for springing the upset were over.

"It's not totally surprising how that happens with Oregon, because you see it in virtually every game but the Stanford game," Riley said. "It's always there. I don't know where they didn't have another game like this where it snowballs and they scored. They were ranked like second in the country, so they're pretty good.

"That's the way it will happen to you, particularly given the opportunities we gave them ... they're really good, they're well-coached, they do a very good job, so you know what you've got to do — you know that part of it. But when you help them, it's hard to take."

It was two third-quarter plays in the kicking game that killed the Beavers' chances. Oregon scored to boost its lead back to 27-17, and on the ensuing squib kickoff seldom-used defensive end Devon Kell bobbled the ball and Oregon recovered at the Beaver 34, leading to another touchdown that made it 34-17.

Near the end of the quarter, the Beavers forced Oregon to punt from deep in its own end of the field. With regular return man Jordan Poyer temporarily unavailable due to a knee injury, Markus Wheaton was called on. He fumbled the ball near midfield, costing OSU possession, field position and time that would be needed for any sort of comeback.

"We had a lot of, to me, uncharacteristic plays like that today," Riley said. "We haven't turned the ball over much. We've been second to Oregon, I think, in the turnover ratio this year and that's usually one of those reliable stats that indicates who wins.

"And it did today, for sure."


MANNION, DEEP PASSING: Leading up to the game, a key was seen as how Oregon State's long-range passing game might match up against the Oregon secondary. Mannion was 39-for-49 for 311 yards and a touchdown, but his longest completion was 40 yards and he had just two others over 15 yards.

Mannion was also intercepted four times, giving him 12 interceptions in his last four starts and leading to postgame questions about whether the Beaver quarterback had regressed since his hot start to the season.

"He had a pretty good day last week," Riley said of Mannion. "He threw the one (interception) last week that was a tipped ball by us. So I don't think it's categorized as all the time. I don't think we should go there. But I know there were some choices today he'd like to have back."

Said Mannion: "I have to look at the film to see what happened on them. I think whenever I turn the ball over, I know I want to become better."

As for the inability to hurt Oregon deep, "they were disruptive early," Riley said. "We were trying to get some of those things going and they disrupted us off the ball, or midway — they'd squat on us a little bit and put some hands on.

"I thought we actually needed a couple of pass interference calls, I really did. I thought they hit Markus at least twice when the ball was in the air, and I know they grabbed (Brandin) Cooks right before the half. And ... I won't go down that (path), I just realized," Riley said with a chuckle, remembering the dim view conferences take on coaches publicly criticizing officiating.


RUNNING AWAY: Oregon State entered Saturday's game ranked second in the Pacific-12 and 14th in the nation against the run, giving up an average of 108.7 yards per game. Oregon put a dent in that figure as it dashed for 430 net yards on the ground.

"They were running sideline to sideline," said Poyer, who is a cornerback. "When they would get the ball they would continue to push forward and take advantage of the possessions. We needed to tackle better, which we emphasized all week, but they have two great running backs and one great offense."

The Beavers were asked about the mental grind of playing against Oregon's fast-paced offense, which allows little time for defenses to catch their breath or make adjustments.

"They do a good job of always being in the attack mode, but it's still football and football playmaking," Riley said. "We also missed quite a few tackles where we had great opportunities to make a stop and finish a drive maybe and get off the field. Regardless of all that, it's still football and football playmaking, and they made way more than we did."


IF I HAD A NICHOLLS "…: Oregon State will be playing in a bowl game somewhere, but the Beavers have a game between now and then. OSU plays host to Nicholls State next Saturday at 11:30 a.m., making up a game that was to have been played Sept. 1 before being postponed by Hurricane Isaac.

The Beavers are glad they'll be waiting just a week, rather than a month, before getting another game.

"I want to take it out on somebody," Poyer said of his frustration over the Civil War loss. "I'm thinking about going home and hitting a wall or something ... this one hurts."


HEISMAN HISTORY: This season marks 50 years since Oregon State's Terry Baker won the 1962 Heisman Trophy, and OSU celebrated that anniversary on Saturday. Baker accompanied the Beaver team captains to midfield for the pregame coin toss and a video honoring him was played on the videoscreen during the third quarter. Baker's image was also on the cover of the game program, on tickets and on parking passes issued for the Civil War.

Baker was the first player from west of Texas to be accorded the honor. He was also named Sportsman of the Year for 1962 by Sports Illustrated magazine and, as a starting guard, helped the Beavers to the 1963 Final Four later that school year. He is now largely retired after a successful career as an attorney in the Portland area.


THIS AND THAT: Saturday's crowd of 47,249 was a Reser Stadium record — the previous record was 46,979 against Washington State on Oct. 6. It was OSU's fourth sellout of the season ... OSU has a home game left next week, but the Beavers opted to hold their Senior Day ceremony before the Civil War. Oregon State loses 16 seniors: safeties Anthony Watkins and Steven Christian; defensive ends Rusty Fernando and Rudolf Fifita; cornerbacks Poyer, Ryan Handford and Brian Watkins; wide receiver Wheaton; fullback York; running back Jordan Jenkins; offensive tackle Colin Kelly; defensive tackles Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo; tight end Colby Prince; and linebackers Rueben Robinson and Feti Taumoepeau ... this was the fourth time in Civil War history that both the Beavers and Ducks were ranked, with all four coming since 2000 ... Wheaton and Cooks became the first OSU receiving duo to both have 1,000-yard seasons since James Newson and Mike Hass in 2003.

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