Beavers' miscues prove too costly
CORVALLIS — After one of those woulda, coulda, shoulda losses to No. 14 Cincinnati, Oregon State knows it missed an opportunity.
The Bearcats (3-0) on Saturday snapped Oregon State's streak of 26 straight home wins against nonconference opponents with a 28-18 victory that was as much a product of Oregon State mistakes as Cincinnati's potent passing game.
Tony Pike, Cincinnati's 6-foot-6 senior quarterback, carved up the Oregon State defense for 332 passing yards. But the Beavers were also their own worst enemy, settling for three field goals after breakdowns in the red zone.
Quarterback Sean Canfield was sacked five times, and the Beavers managed just 29 yards on 20 plays during a second quarter in which Bearcats scored three straight touchdowns.
Then there was the apparent fumble recovery by Oregon State linebacker Keith Pankey that would have set the Beavers up for a chance to regain the lead in the fourth quarter, but Cincinnati's D.J. Woods was ruled down by forward progress. Pike then found Mardy Gilyard for an 18-yard touchdown pass that clinched the game.
"You've got to respect the call," Beavers linebacker Keaton Kristick said. "It wasn't a fumble. That was good for them, and not so good for us."
James Rodgers, who had 90 receiving yards and 67 rushing yards, said the Beavers need to avoid any postgame hand-wringing.
"This week right here is going to be very key for us," he said. "Because we can go forward or we can go backward."
The Beavers (2-1) hope to have a healthy Jacquizz Rodgers when they open up Pacific-10 Conference play this weekend with Arizona. The tailback admitted the ankle — which kept him out of practice during much of the week — was still "a little tender," and he gained only 73 yards on 20 carries against Cincinnati.
Arizona (2-1) comes to Corvallis after a 27-17 loss to Iowa, its seventh in a row to a Big Ten Conference opponent. Coach Mike Stoops announced after the game that the Wildcats will be without their top offensive weapon, tight end Rob Gronkowski, for the rest of the season. Gronkowski will have back surgery this week.
The Beavers have won the last three meetings with Arizona, including 19-17 last year in Tucson.
Oregon State made too many miscues against Cincinnati to lay blame for the loss on any single factor, but there was agreement that the Beavers allowed Pike to get a little too comfortable in the pocket.
"We have to get to the quarterback a second earlier, or two seconds earlier. If we had played defense consistently, we would have beaten them," defensive end Stephen Paea said.
But there are still reasons to be optimistic as the Beavers move into Pac-10 play.
The offense moved the ball effectively at times, particularly in the third quarter.
"We have to work harder, day in and day out," Paea said. "And we'll be fine."