Mistakes haunt OSU in loss
CORVALLIS — With about 45 seconds left on the Reser Stadium clock Saturday afternoon and Oregon State trailing by a touchdown, Washington State faced a third-and-9 from its own 43. The Beavers sacked Cougar quarterback Luke Falk and it looked like they’d get the ball back with at least a few seconds left to try a Hail Mary or two to force overtime.
Then came the flag. Oregon State’s Larry Scott was called for an out-of-bounds late hit away from the play, WSU was awarded the first down and it ran out the clock to wrap up a 39-32 Pacific-12 football victory.
It was the final error in a mistake-filled day that sent OSU to its fourth straight defeat. The Beavers didn’t commit a turnover but were penalized 10 times for 100 yards, whiffed on a number of tackles — including several that would have been sacks or lost-yardage rushing plays — and settled for field goals on four drives against a defense ranked 10th in the Pac-12 entering the game.
After trailing by as many as eight points, the Beavers led 25-24 early in the fourth quarter. But the Cougars scored the next 14 points, and in the final eight minutes OSU never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. It was the third time in the four-game losing streak that Oregon State led in the fourth quarter.
“This is the story so far for us and the story for how the games are played in our league,” OSU head coach Mike Riley said. “It’s another fourth-quarter game you have a chance to win. They made the plays and we didn’t, and I’m really disappointed about that.”
Against a Washington State team that had been capable of scoring against anyone but was seemingly unable to stop anyone, matching score-for-score was a must for OSU. On four drives, though, the Beavers stumbled for a play or two and came away with field goals rather than touchdowns.
“We play Washington State, we play Arizona State, we play Cal, we play Oregon, we play teams like that that put up points,” OSU senior running back Teron Ward said. “You play teams like that and you have to put up points as well. You have to convert 7s and not 3s.”
The penalties included Scott’s late hit, a roughing the passer penalty against senior defensive lineman Dylan Winn and a hold against wide receiver Hunter Jarmon that negated a Sean Mannion-to-Victor Bolden touchdown pass; the Beavers then had to settle for a field goal on that drive.
“The penalties were big,” Riley said. “One thing we cleaned up was the procedural part of it; there were some pass interference and defensive holding penalties that were big. And some stupid stuff at the end that’s not going to be tolerated. That’s ridiculous, the late hits.”
ROMAINE MISSING: Oregon State senior placekicker Trevor Romaine served a one-game suspension Saturday for a violation of athletic department rules. In his absence, freshman Garrett Owens made all four of his field goal attempts, including a 46-yarder that gave the Beavers their fourth-quarter lead. Romaine had also been suspended early in the season and Owens kicked five field goals in the season-opening win over Portland State.
After the game, Riley said it was yet to be decided whether Romaine would automatically regain the starting job upon his return or whether Romaine and Owens would compete for the spot.
ONSIDE IS OFF: Oregon State made it a one-score game on Ward’s 1-yard touchdown run with 3:00 left. Given the way Washington State had moved the ball, an onside kick seemed enticing; instead, the Beavers kicked deep and never got the ball back. Owens’ kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback, which wasn’t the plan.
“We wanted to make the guy handle the ball by himself,” Riley said of the Cougars’ return man. “We kicked it a little deep. With all their people up there for the onside, maybe we could take a chance and pin them deep. Then after that, you’ve got to be perfect: You’ve got to go three downs and out and you might get the ball back with a minute to go.
“I obviously thought this was a better idea and it didn’t work out.”
Incidentally, OSU was penalized 5 yards on the play for having too few players on one side of the kicker.
READY, FELLAS?: Washington State met with less-than-complete resistance from Oregon State’s defense on its third touchdown.
With approximately 1:30 to go in the first half, the Cougars picked up a first-and-10 at the Beaver 48-yard line. WSU got to the line of scrimmage while OSU’s defense was still largely standing back from the ball and looking to its sideline for signals. That’s where the Beavers were when the Cougars got the play off, and Falk hit Vince Mayle running down the left sideline for a touchdown and a 21-13 lead.
“That was just a missed communication and we have to take care of that,” Alexander said. “That’s on us.”
THIS AND THAT: OSU running back Storm Woods missed the game due to injury; it was believed until Saturday that he might be able to play … Riley announced that senior offensive lineman Roman Sapolu had been advised by doctors to give up playing football. Sapolu will spend the rest of the season assisting offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh … the result continued an against-the-grain trend in the Pac-12 this season: Going into Saturday’s action, visiting teams had won 23 of 35 conference games … the attendance of 44,377 was OSU’s largest home crowd of the season.