CORVALLIS — Ryan Nall was back and it was a welcome sight for his Oregon State football teammates and fans.
Nall has been bothered by foot and ankle injuries this season and hasn’t always been able to go. He was held out of the previous two games but was back Saturday and looked quite healthy in helping the Beavers to a 42-17 Pac-12 win against Arizona.
Nall plowed through the Wildcats for 124 yards on 23 carries and had one touchdown run.
“Well, if you just go back and look, when there’s a healthy Ryan Nall, we’re definitely a different offense, so it means a ton,” coach Gary Andersen said. “He is a big, powerful, strong, fast young man and he’s a unique running back.”
On OSU’s second drive of the game, Nall carried for 12, 16, 5 and 9 yards on consecutive runs, caught a 4-yard pass and ran for 2 more before scoring on a 9-yard throw from Marcus McMaryion, who released the ball just before passing the line of scrimmage.
Nall added 30 yards on four straight carries to get the Beavers going on a 94-yard TD drive, but was spelled by Artavis Pierce for much of the possession.
Pierce finished with 71 yards on 15 carries.
“I really believe this, too, that now that AP has grown up the way he’s grown up this year, it makes Ryan even better because he gets the spells, he gets the breaks and we still have quality offense coming our way,” Andersen said.
Perhaps no one was happier to see Nall back in the backfield than McMaryion. Nall rushed for 82 yards in the first half and that spark in the run game loosened up the Wildcats’ defense so that McMaryion could go to work.
By the half, McMaryion had already set a career-high with three touchdown passes and finished with five.
McMaryion was extremely accurate, hitting 16 of 19 throws for 265 yards.
“The guys were just making plays,” McMaryion said. “Bottom line. The play calls were there. I was trying not to (overextend myself), just stick to my reads and not try to think too much and it definitely paid dividends.”
Andersen said a big key to McMaryion’s success was the play of the receivers, who were catching those passes.
The team was without receiver Seth Collins, who has been in the hospital since last weekend with an undisclosed illness. That meant some other players had to step up in the pass game, and Jordan Villamin did so in a big way.
Villamin has not had a great season, but he came through with six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.
“I just wasn’t playing good,” Villamin said. “I had really good teammates just keeping me uplifted and when the time came this week they just kept telling me I can do it. I had a lot of motivation from Seth and so I just kept him in my prayers and thoughts.”
Collins has spent the week in the hospital and some of the players said they were playing for him against Arizona and will continue to do so.
Andersen said he saw Collins on Saturday afternoon before the game and that he had his jersey and helmet that was signed by his teammates.
“I’m sure Seth was sitting and enjoying every minute of that,” Andersen said. “My guess is Seth probably had everybody around him and (they) were rooting hard in his room for the Beavs.”