Path to Woods

Oregon State running back Storm Woods, right, attempts to elude Washington State linebacker Jared Byers (37) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. Woods carried 12 times for 18 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 64 yards. Oregon State won 52-24. (AP Photo/Dean Hare)AP

PULLMAN, Wash. — Storm Woods had grand aims for Saturday's matchup at Washington State. Oregon State's starting running back wanted to start anew, to prove he's the same player who rushed for 940 yards in a standout freshman campaign.

So Woods, who struggled to find a rhythm before a Sept. 14 concussion sidelined him for two games, said the same prayer he says before every kickoff. And though he still had issues at times running the ball against the Cougars, Woods continued to make a noteworthy statement: He is a valuable asset for this team, no matter how he is used.

The sophomore helped the Beavers gain necessary yardage throughout their 52-24 win before a capacity crowd at Martin Stadium. He hauled in critical catches. He extended drives. He marched into the end zone during two pivotal moments.

"I had a lot of fun," Woods said. "I was just reacting out there. I really wasnt thinking about it too much."

All in all, Woods offered a solid complement in the Beavers' pass-heavy attack. He tallied five catches for 64 yards, making him one of five OSU players to finish with at least 60. It marked the second time in three appearances Woods, who corralled seven passes for 95 yards against Hawaii, feasted on a litany of screen plays.

"Storm absolutely is an outstanding receiver," quarterback Sean Mannion said after setting a school record with 493 passing yards. "And especially in all those screens, from my point of view, he made a lot of things happen even when he got past our blockers."

Woods' significance Saturday can't be measured in mere yards. The Pflugerville, Texas native seemed to emerge when OSU needed him most. He seized the moment, a reality that should allow Beaver Nation to overlook his modest rushing numbers (12 carries for just 18 yards).

While Cougars cornerbacks stifled star receiver Brandin Cooks early, Woods secured first downs. He nabbed a 24-yard pass from quarterback Sean Mannion on a key third down late in the first quarter, shortly before he moved the chains again on a four-yard carry. The plays ultimately set up a 20-yard Trevor Romaine field goal that tied the game at 3.

"I have to find some way to get incorporated into the offense," Woods said. "It just makes me a dual-threat guy, run and catch."

Such displays continued as the Beavers eventually pulled away from a much-improved Washington State team. There was the 25-yard grab that helped put him in position to notch a 3-yard touchdown run, giving OSU a seven-point lead entering the break. There was also the one-yard touchdown rush early in the fourth quarter that handed the Beavers a 37-24 edge.

That score helped put the game out of reach. On the night, the Beavers pieced together 35 consecutive points to turn a seven-point deficit into their second straight blowout over a Pac-12 foe.

So Woods feels content with his first game in several weeks. Less than a month removed from receiving a cavalcade of supportive letters from fans and friends, the Beavers' top ball carrier has shown he is still a player opponents must include in a game plan. Even if he has yet to deliver a gaudy rushing total.

"I think it was good to have him back," coach Mike Riley said. "Having him with (running back) Terron (Ward) is really good for us."


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