Beavers grind one out
BOULDER, Colo. — Oregon State, with a well-deserved reputation as a strong passing team, leaned on its improved running game to pull out a tense victory over Colorado.
Terron Ward ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns, including a 10-yard score with 5:09 remaining, and Oregon State’s defense turned away Colorado’s last-gasp drive as the Beavers hung on to beat the Buffaloes 36-31 on Saturday.
“It’s very good to run,” Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. “We all know it was kind of an Achilles’ heel for us until the very last part of the season last year. It looked like good, balanced football today and that will help us as we go forward.”
Sean Mannion, bouncing back from a rough outing in last week’s loss at Southern Cal, completed 27 of 37 for 278 yards and his lone touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter to help Oregon State (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) fend off Colorado (2-4, 0-3).
Storm Woods, complementing Ward, added 69 yards rushing and a score for the Beavers, who averted back-to-back conference road losses for the first time since 2003.
“We were expecting a battle and as you saw, it was right down to the last possession,” Mannion said. “I think it was good that we could come right out after a tough, tough loss and handle a road game, handle the environment and handle a tough opponent and really play well.”
The Buffaloes’ Sefo Liufau completed 32 of 49 for 308 yards and two touchdowns, both to Tyler McCulloch. But with Colorado facing a fourth down at the Oregon State 40 in the last couple of minutes, Liufau, with two Oregon State defenders in his face, threw incomplete. The Beavers took over and Mannion took a knee three times to run out the final moments.
It was another tough loss for Colorado, which endured an agonizing 59-56 double-overtime loss at Cal last week. The Buffaloes have lost five consecutive conference games.
“I feel like we’re ready to break through,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. “It looks better. It feels better. It’s just gut-wrenching when you lose like we’ve lost.”
Defensive lineman Timothy Coleman broke through to sack Mannion for a 9-yard loss to the Colorado 29-yard line and the Buffaloes’ defense forced two more incompletions before Trevor Romaine came on to kick his third field goal, a 47-yarder that put the Beavers back in front 23-21 with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter.
Oregon State extended the lead with a drive that included a key third-down conversion on a Ward run. It was also kept alive by a pass interference penalty on Colorado’s Ken Crawley that negated his interception of a Mannion pass and gave the Beavers a first down at the 34-yard line. Three runs advanced the ball to the 24, where Mannion lofted a scoring pass to Caleb Smith. Smith out-jumped two Buffaloes defenders to make the catch before tumbling into the end zone.
Colorado cut the deficit to 30-24 on Will Oliver’s 44-yard field goal with 10:52 left to play but Mannion responded by leading another scoring drive that Ward finished off with his second scoring run.
The Buffaloes weren’t through, though. They pulled within five with three minutes left on Liufau’s 17-yard scoring pass to McCulloch.
Down 14-0 early, Colorado fought back to take a 21-20 halftime lead when Tony Jones bulled his way into the end zone from a yard out with 43 seconds left in the second quarter.
Liufau, whose interception midway through the first quarter led to a Beavers’ touchdown, got the Buffaloes back into the game with a 31-yard scoring pass to McCulloch. The lanky wide receiver shook off a tackle by safety Justin Strong at the 20 and bolted untouched down the left sideline for the score pulling the Buffaloes to 14-7.
Michael Adkins II added a 12-yard scoring run for Colorado around a pair of field goals by Romaine.
The Beavers got a pair of 4-yard touchdown runs to go up early, the first by Ward. The other, by Woods, came on the heels of linebacker D.J. Alexander’s interception of Liufau and 25-yard return to Colorado’s 8.