WSU works over the Beavers
CORVALLIS — Jeff Tuel passed for 157 yards and rushed for 79 Saturday as Washington State snapped a 16-game conference losing streak with a 31-14 win over Oregon State.
It was the Cougars' first Pac-10 win since a 16-13 overtime victory against Washington in the 2008 Apple Cup.
"I think we dominated in so many ways, in every aspect, I couldn't be happier," said Washington State coach Paul Wulff. "It was a complete team win and they're very excited and it gives them a belief now that they've actually done it."
Tuel completed 10 of 15 passes, connecting with receiver Daniel Blackledge four times for 76 yards and hitting Marquess Wilson for a 33-yard touchdown pass that gave Washington State a 21-0 lead in the third quarter. James Montgomery added 67 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Cougars.
Washington State (2-9, 1-7 Pac-10) had previously only beaten Montana State this season. The Cougars had been 4-31 under Wulff and endured some ghastly losses while trying to rebuild a program that thrived under former coach Mike Price in the 1990s. There were signs of progress in recent weeks as Washington State hung tough in losses to Oregon, Arizona and California.
But moral victories are no comparison to the real thing.
"Honestly, I haven't had time to process this," Tuel said. "It feels great, obviously. It's awesome for our fans. It's a pleasure and an honor to lead a team to a win like that."
The Beavers (4-5, 3-3) lost for the third time in the last four games — and the first time in seven games at Reser Stadium — and are in jeopardy of missing the bowl season for the first time in five years. Oregon State still has USC, No. 6 Stanford and top-ranked Oregon left on the schedule.
"We better do something real quick, man, or we're going to have an early break," said a visibly frustrated Jacquizz Rodgers, the second-leading rusher in the Pac-10, who ran for 93 yards.
Oregon State's Ryan Katz completed 12 of 21 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns — both to Markus Wheaton, who had six catches for 97 yards.
Tuel became the latest mobile quarterback to give the Beavers problems. TCU's Andy Dalton and Washington's Jake Locker created similar problems. And last week, UCLA's Richard Brehaut had 18 carries for 61 yards against Oregon State, including six times to move the chains on first down.
This week it was Tuel who was able to rely on his mobility to get of trouble, running the ball 18 times against the Beavers.
"We couldn't keep him in the pocket and sack him," Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea said. "He's a Jake Locker-type. They wear the same number. They look the same to me."
Oregon State was booed by the home fans going into halftime after it was outgained 214-124 by the Cougars. Katz was sacked three times for minus-29 yards and then was pulled in favor of backup Cody Vaz after throwing an interception with the Beavers driving at the Cougar 12.
Oregon State blew another scoring opportunity when Justin Kahut missed a 35-yard field goal attempt after a high snap.
Tuel completed 6 of 8 passes for 101 yards and ran for 66 yards in the first half. He was injured after rushing the ball to the Beavers 1-yard line, where Montgomery punched it in to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead that they took into halftime.
It was the first time Washington State held a team scoreless in the first half since outscoring Stanford 10-0 in 2007. The Beavers had not been shut out in the first half all season.
Tuel came back out for the second half and led the Cougars on a 64-yard drive that culminated in his touchdown pass to Wilson.
Katz sandwiched two touchdown passes to Wheaton around a 37-yard field goal by Washington State's Andrew Furney that made the score 24-14 with 9:50 remaining.
The Cougars capped the scoring with a 5-yard TD run by Chantz Staden with 2:04 left. Oregon State muffed the kick return and turned it over to the Cougars, who took a knee twice to run out the clock.