Walk-on receiver shines for Beavers
CORVALLIS — Damola Adeniji has come a long ways since he walked on to the Oregon State football team three years ago.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound wide receiver from Eugene was buried on the depth chart after transferring from Orange Coast Junior College. However, he worked his way into the rotation by showing solid route-running ability and hands.
This season, after being thrust into a starting role because of Darrell Catchings' hand injury during fall camp, Adeniji was awarded a scholarship by OSU coach Mike Riley.
On Saturday, he had a breakout game in the Beavers' 37-32 loss to Arizona at Reser Stadium. Adeniji caught six passes for 70 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown pass from Sean Canfield with two seconds left in the first quarter.
The pass, originally intended for running back Jacquizz Rodgers, was thrown high and was tipped by several Wildcat defenders. Somehow, Adeniji came up with the ball and fell into the end zone.
The heads-up play helped the Beavers tie the game at 7-7 and completed a 14-play, 83-yard drive.
"It was definitely bobbled," Adeniji said. "I was cutting back across to make a tackle because I thought it was going to be intercepted, and I just caught it."
CATCHINGS MADE his first start of the season and it didn't take long for Canfield to try to connect with his favorite target from spring practice.
On the first play of the game, Canfield threw a long pass to Catchings, but it was out of reach. Later in the first quarter, though, Catchings caught a 6-yard pass from Canfield for a first down.
But Catchings' availability was short-lived. He left the game with an ankle injury in the first half.
Catchings saw his first action of the season last Saturday against Cincinatti.
AFTER RECORDING one sack against Cincinatti, the Beavers failed to do so against Arizona. Part of the problem was the quick release of Wildcat quarterback Nick Foles.
"The three-step dropbacks killed us," said junior defensive tackle Stephen Paea. "The ball would come out in two seconds, and there's nothing we can do about it. It didn't matter how well we did against their offensive line."
Foles, a sophomore who was making his first career start, wasn't even hurried much and took only a handful of hits.
FOLES DIDN'T HESITATE to attack the OSU secondary, which is breaking in four new starters this season. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns. They weren't all quick passes, either.
During the Wildcats' first series, junior cornerback James Dockery was called for pass interference twice while trying to cover fade routes. Despite Dockery's interference, Delashaun Dean was able to haul in a touchdown pass from Foles with 6:25 left in the first quarter to give Arizona a 7-0 lead.
"Corners have to have short memories. We need to stay focused," Dockery said. "We need to have tighter coverage."
Added freshman safety Lance Mitchell: "We got to change things up. If we keep doing the same things we've been doing, the same things will happen."
WITH 9:49 REMAINING in the first half, senior quarterback Lyle Moevao — last season's starter — made his first appearance of the year. He took one snap while Canfield had a bloody nose tended to. Moevao missed the Beavers' first three games while recovering from off-season surgery.
"I'm not sure how things are going to work at this point," Riley said. "He's further along. It was good to get him in. I was glad to see that."
And Moevao wasted no time trying to make an impact. He took a shot at the end zone from the Arizona 21, but his throw intended for Jordan Bishop was out of reach. Canfield reentered the game on the next play.
After a Jacquizz Rodgers run, Canfield completed a 13-yard pass to Adeniji, which helped set up Rodgers' 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Beavers a 13-7 lead with 8:25 remaining in the second quarter.