Missed red-zone chances haunt OSU
LOS ANGELES — Oregon State gradually figured out how to proceed from the red zone to the end zone Saturday. The Beavers just never deciphered a way to stop USC.
The Beavers scored the most points against No. 7 USC since the Trojans lost to Texas in the classic 2006 Rose Bowl, but it wasn't enough to wipe out an early deficit and Oregon State extended its losing streak at the Coliseum to 22 games with the 42-36 loss.
The Beavers can look back on some missed opportunities in the first half, when they fell behind, 21-9. Oregon State drove inside its opponent's 20-yard line three times in the opening half, but only came away with two field goals.
"When those things are presented, you have to make a play," said Oregon State Coach Mike Riley. "If you don't, that can come back to haunt you."
Oregon State (4-3, 2-2 Pac-10) produced touchdowns twice from the red zone in the third quarter. Each time the Beavers pulled within five points, but each time USC (6-1, 3-1) answered with a touchdown of its own.
The Trojans appeared to seal the victory when Damian Williams scored on a 63-yard punt return with 14 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, giving USC a 42-23 lead. It was the first punt return for a touchdown against Oregon State since the 2006 season.
"That first half, at least offensively, was the difference in the game," said Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield.
The victory sets up a key Pac-10 matchup next week between USC and Pac-10 leader Oregon (6-1, 4-0) in Eugene.
RUSH DEFENSE DISAPPEARED: Oregon State's defense also had an off-night, particularly up front. The Beavers came into the game allowing an average of 97.7 rushing yards a game, which ranked third in the Pac-10. But they were gashed for 227 yards on the ground by the Trojans.
The defensive unit extended its streak of holding the opponent's leading rusher under his season average to seven games — limiting Joe McKnight to 65 yards in 11 carries — but were unable to slow his back-up, Allen Bradford.
Bradford rushed for a career-high 147 yards in 15 carries and scored two second-half touchdowns to keep the Beavers at arm's length.
"Everyone knows they have athletes over there," said Oregon State safety Lance Mitchell. "The defense has to be better."
QUIZZ'S INJURY: Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-21 upset victory last season against then-No. 1 USC, sat out the second quarter after injuring his ankle.
That proved to be a pivotal stretch of the game, as the Trojans outscored Oregon State, 14-3, to take a 12-point halftime lead.
Rodgers returned in the second half and rushed for 97 of his 115 yards on the ground and scored two touchdowns, but it was too little too late.
"He felt better," Riley said of Rodgers' return after halftime. "I just told (running backs coach) Reggie Davis if he didn't feel well, keep him out of the second half. He got started, he didn't look very good and I almost said to take him out, but then he started looking good."
PENALTIES PROVE COSTLY: Oregon State committed nine penalties for 85 yards — both season highs. The most costly occurred midway through the second quarter, when the Beavers intercepted a pass from USC quarterback Matt Barkley deep in their territory. However, the play was nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty.
The Trojans then marched down the field and took a 21-6 lead on a one-yard touchdown run by Barkley. Oregon State's first trip into the red zone was also halted when the Beavers committed a false start followed by offensive pass interference, forcing them to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Justin Kahut.
"We will regret many opportunities," Riley said. "Whether it was having to kick a field goal instead of scoring (a touchdown) or a penalty on an interception, there's a million things."
QUICK HITS: Oregon State lost its first fumble of the season when flanker James Rodgers was stripped on a counter early in the first quarter.
The Trojans recovered at the Oregon State 24-yard line and scored three plays later on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Barkley to tight end Anthony McCoy, giving them a 7-0 lead. ... Canfield matched his career-high with three touchdown passes. ... Oregon State sophomore H-back Joe Halahuni finished with nine catches for 127 yards. He came into the game with the same totals through six games this season, nine catches for 127 yards. ... The 89,718 fans in attendance represented the largest crowd ever to watch an Oregon State-USC game. ... Back-up defensive lineman Mitchel Hunt injured his right leg in the first half and was on crutches during the second.