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Maurer reflects on bowl game gone awry

Commentary

by RANDY HAMMERICKSEN

He rode mopeds at the beach, body-surfed, sampled Hawaiian cuisine at luaus and soaked up the sun.

It was eight days of paradise for former Cascade Christian High football player Marty Maurer, 21, and his Oregon State football teammates.

Then, the reality of a 23-17 loss to the University of Hawaii in the Jeep Oahu Bowl set in Christmas night. Maurer and the Beavers were stunned by a Hawaii team they know they should have beaten, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

OSU jumped to a 7-0 lead and looked liked they'd be able to dominate Hawaii's smaller, overmatched defense.

But things changed quickly.

It's hard to believe we lost that game, says Maurer, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound junior starting tight end for the Beavers from Jacksonville. We took the ball right down the field and punched it in for our first touchdown, and we knew we were better than them.

Our linemen were knocking them down and we laughed at them, says Maurer. It was as if we were saying, `Is that all you've got?'

But the Beavers found out the Rainbows had plenty more in a defensive arsenal directed by coordinator Greg McMackin. The former Southern Oregon University player and Oregon Tech coach put his players in positions to blunt the Beavers' offense with an array of blitzes.

We made a lot of mistakes, says Maurer. After that drive, I think we let up a little, too. There wasn't the same fire after that.

OSU was penalized 14 times for 138 yards. It was a continuation of the pattern the Beavers fell into in losing to Oregon in the Civil War.

Late hits, too much talking and lapses in concentration caused the Beavers to crash in their final two games.

We aren't always a very smart team, says Maurer. Sometimes, we get a little too emotional, and that hurts us. But I like our competitive spirit. We need to be a little smarter about it.

It's still a great year and it was a great trip. You can't take away from what we did this year. We plan to build on that next year.

The Beavers, who finished the season with a 7-5 record, have many fond memories of the season when they snapped the program's long history of losing.

We accomplished a lot, and this team will be remembered as the one that turned it (OSU's streak of 28 consecutive losing seasons) around, says Maurer. Now, we go on from here.

Confidence will be high on this team to do the same thing, or more, next season. We know we will be right in there to win the Pac-10 next season. Nobody will push us around.

Such thoughts weren't at the fore Christmas night.

First, there was the bowl defeat. Then, two of Maurer's teammates, defensive tackles Paul Luoma and Charles O'Neal, were stabbed outside a Waikiki restaurant in the wee hours following the game.

It was real bad, says Maurer. I guess some guys came up to them with a baseball bat and then a knife came out.

It started because these guys were flipping our players some crap for losing the game.

Luoma returned with the team Sunday; O'Neal was released from a Honolulu hospital Wednesday and was hoping to leave the Islands today.

Maurer is back home in Jacksonville for the holidays.

Maurer, who caught one pass for 16 yards in the bowl game, says he was frustrated because he didn't have more passes thrown his way.

I was open a few times, but that's just more a product of the system than anything, he says. It's football, and I don't have any complaints, although I'd like to get the ball more.

McMackin, who coached under Beaver coach Dennis Erickson at Miami and with the Seattle Seahawks, described Maurer as an ideal Erickson tight end because he has size, athletic ability and he can catch the ball very well. I'm sure Dennis will want to use him more as a senior.

Erickson apparently has intimated as much.

Coach told me during a practice in Hawaii that they are going to put some more things in (the offense) for me next year, says Maurer. I like it.