CORVALLIS — Not long after Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen began fielding questions from reporters after the Beavers’ 34-24 football win over Oregon on Saturday, the interview room rang with the sound of a 6-foot-4, 310-pound man banging on the glass partition at the side of the room, followed by a long, loud, “Wooooooooooooo!”
It was just Beaver tackle Sean Harlow in the next room, waiting his turn before the microphones, sending his bit of congratulations.
“It kills them every time we lose, you can see it in their eyes,” OSU quarterback Marcus McMaryion said of Harlow and the other Beavers seniors. “And after the game was over, to send them into the locker room and end their careers on a good note, see them smile after the game — there’s no better feeling.”
A loss would have put the Beavers in the Civil War record book for the longest losing streak at nine games. Along with the eight-game streak Oregon took into Saturday’s game, the Beavers won eight straight from 1964-72 and the Ducks had taken eight in a row from 1975-82.
“It’s crazy,” Harlow said of how it feels to finally get a victory in one of the nation’s oldest college football rivalries. “Our goal is to win every game, but that one, that was something a little extra special to it. To be able to get one last one, a home game in our place, against them of all people, and to run the ball physically and impose our will on them all game — there’s nothing better.”
At game’s end, Beaver fans rushed the field not just from the students section, but from all four sides, including several awkwardly launching themselves from an eight-foot-high wall behind the north end zone.
“I was on someone’s head at one point,” said Beaver running back Ryan Nall, who rushed for 155 yards and four touchdowns. “I mean, all of a sudden I’m getting hit left and right, and I see my sister and my two nieces, and I was hugging them and all of a sudden I told them to get out of here, I didn’t want them to get hurt. So all of a sudden I’m in the air, and I’m just taking in the moment.
“It was amazing.”
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?: Oregon State’s four wins this season doubled the number from 2015, Andersen’s first season in Corvallis. Andersen has talked about the process of getting the OSU program turned around, and several of the Beavers were asked if they felt things had been flipped with the Beavers routing Arizona last week and then ending its losing streak to Oregon.
“Yes,” senior center Gavin Andrews said. “You look at last season and we had some close games and some not-so-close games and were 2-10. This year we were 4-8. It’s starting to flip. Next season it’s all about these guys and making sure it stays flipping.”
Nall pointed to Andrews and Harlow sitting next to him and said they were part of the group that has led the way in that process.
“They’re setting that foundation for us,” Nall said. “Me and Marcus (McMaryion, sophomore quarterback) are just part of it and we’re hopefully going to play through and see where it really starts to flip. And even when we’re gone, it’s going to be something crazy. I’m excited to see what happens next year.”
Oregon State was hosting a number of recruits over the weekend, and Andersen pointed to the game’s atmosphere with a sellout crowd of 44,600 as a big selling point.
“It was intense, those fans … it was a packed house, it was energetic, it was a great game, two teams teeing off against each other, a rivalry game,” Andersen said. “It will help us down those lines without a doubt.
“But the whole work of this year kind of culminated in the last game, which is great for our kids and will help us as we go into recruiting. It was a great weekend for the kids who were here.”
CLUTCH DEFENSE: After Oregon scored 10 points on its first two second-half possessions to lead 24-14, Oregon State’s defense limited Oregon to 15 yards on eight plays in its next two possessions while the Beavers were scoring the game’s final 20 points. By the time Oregon picked up 44 yards on a final drive that came up empty, OSU had built a two-score lead thanks in part to its defense solving the Ducks’ offense.
“It wasn’t really magical calls or anything that changed,” Andersen said. “We made plays; we had opportunities to make plays and we made them and were able to execute. I think we got better pressure on the quarterback.”
Added senior safety Devin Chappell: “Everybody was telling each other we needed each other to win this game. Everybody showed up and made the plays they needed to make.”
Over the past decade, Oregon’s quick-scoring offense often made time of possession a meaningless statistic. Saturday, though, Oregon State wanted to keep the ball away from Oregon and was successful. By game’s end, the Beavers had the ball for 39 minutes, 55 seconds; they controlled it for roughly 20 of the 30 minutes in each half.
“That’s an absolute must for us,” Andersen said. “The game plan coming in, we had to get that done … I think I looked up at halftime and it was 22 minutes to 9 or something crazy, a pretty big stat for us.”
CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS: Oregon State’s captains for the game were Seth Collins, Drew Clarkson and Robert Olson. Collins, a sophomore wide receiver, was recently released from the Corvallis hospital after being treated for meningitis; Clarkson was an offensive lineman who retired from football after a second, successful cancer-related surgery this past summer; and Olson is an offensive lineman who missed this season after a cancer surgery over the summer but is expected to return to the team.
“I felt like all those three kids have been through so, so much and so many things that are way more important than football,” Andersen said. “I think it was an emotional boost for the kids; I didn’t even tell them until today that they’d be out there and be the captains.
“It was for those kids. They deserved that and it was special moment for them to be able to be there. They’ve had football taken away from them for a time, so I’m sure it was a boost but I think it was a right thing to do for those kids.”