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Taking a Chance pays off for Beavers

CORVALLIS — All week, the question surrounding Oregon State’s football team was, would the Beavers stick with the status quo — Sam Noyer — as their starting quarterback?

Or would they take a Chance?

Last week Chance Nolan came off the bench to rally OSU to a pair of second-half scores in a season-opening loss at Purdue but head coach Jonathan Smith and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren left open the possibility that Noyer — ineffective much of that day — could remain the starter.

The OSU coaches made their decision late in the week but didn’t disclose the starter until game time. The Beaver depth chart distributed in the press box listed Nolan ahead of Noyer — but with an “or” between the names.

Saturday night, the answer was quick in coming. After Hawaii booted the opening kickoff out of bounds, Nolan led the Beavers to the line of scrimmage at the 35-yard line.

And, as he had the week before against the Boilermakers, Nolan got things going in a hurry, guiding the Beavers 65 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown on their opening drive. That included a 33-yard pass to wide receiver Anthony Gould on a deep ball Nolan dropped into the perfect spot.

That was the start of an early offensive explosion that helped Oregon State to a 45-27 win over Hawaii in nonconference football at Reser Stadium.

“I was seeing what the defense was running,” Nolan said of a fast start that saw the Beavers score touchdowns on their first three possessions. “I was able to find my open receivers, and the O-line did a great job giving me time to throw the ball all night. The receivers did a great job running their routes and getting open and making tough catches all night.”

By the end of the first quarter, the sophomore was 9-for-9 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown as the Beavers built a 21-0 lead. He eventually completed his first 13 passes for 154 yards before missing on tight end Luke Musgrave with 1:25 left in the half.

Nolan finished the night 21-for-29 for 302 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He was told Wednesday he’d be the starter, and Smith said part of the reason for the choice was what happened at Purdue.

“We felt it on the sideline in Game 1, the first half, second half, so we knew going into the week there was a little bit of spark with the group when Chance was in there,” Smith said. “I did think Sam practiced really well this week. We just felt in our gut to go with Chance.”

Gould, a redshirt freshman from West Salem, was on the receiving end of six of those passes in the first half, good for 106 yards. He finished with seven catches for 119 yards and a touchdown after having just one catch for 5 yards in his debut at Purdue.

“He’s a great player,” Nolan said of Gould. “All camp he made a lot of plays for us on the offensive side of the ball. We knew what he’s capable of, that he has great speed and rout-running ability.”

QUITE A RUSH: Oregon State’s veteran offensive line, seen as one of the Beavers’ strengths going into the season, took some criticism after OSU rushed for just 78 yards at Purdue. Against Hawaii, Oregon State topped that mark by the end of the first quarter, going for 106 yards in the opening period en route to 256 yards rushing on the night.

“We saw they missed a lot of tackles, so the coaches just told us to be physical and get vertical and that’s what we did,” said B.J. Baylor, who finished with a career-high 171 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, including a 66-yard scoring run in the first quarter.

That offensive line was a big reason, Baylor felt.

“The O-line did their best job ever,” Baylor said. “It was the perfect time to do that — it was a big game, our first home game, and our offensive line came to play today.”

Said Nolan: “It was great to see — the holes opened up for B.J. and he hit them. He was running very hard and very physical and it was great to see him get downhill and bust them.”

Nolan also generally had plenty of time to throw as the Beavers built their lead in the first half, being sacked just once and forced into hurrying a pass just once. For the night, he was sacked just the one time and only hurried four times; he also ran for 38 yards, second on the team only to Baylor’s big night.

“It starts up front and it’s critically important,” Smith said of OSU’s offensive line. “And those guys did play solid, against a scheme that’s not always easy to recognize and the amount of pressures they give. We still need to get some things down with some penalties.”

CONTAIN CORDEIRO?: Oregon State’s defense faced a challenge in containing Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, a dual-threat junior who entered the game averaging 364 yards passing and 37 yards rushing per game.

Cordeiro finished with 366 yards passing as Hawaii managed to run for just 88 yards, with Cordeiro getting 48 of those. But the Beavers held him in check while building early leads of 21-0 and 24-7, keeping Cordeiro from completing a pass in the first quarter and containing him for just 10 rushing yards.

The junior warmed up in the second quarter, though, and started cooking in the third as Hawaii rallied within 31-20 and 38-27.

“It’s always a concern when they’re moving the ball,” Smith said. “You have to deal with the passer, you have to contain the passer — he breaks contain and gets outside. Going in we knew these guys were explosive, they have some good athletes, the quarterback can move. There’s always things to clean up. Especially on the third downs, how effective they were on third downs.”

But the Beaver defense did enough to keep OSU in the lead. Two turnovers — interceptions by linebacker Riley Sharp and cornerback Alex Austin — helped there, with Sharp’s interception on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter setting up a 30-yard touchdown run by Baylor. OSU also had three quarterback sacks and seven tackles for lost yardage; junior linebacker Avery Roberts led the way with 12 total tackles, including a sack and two for lost yardage, plus a pass breakup.

FEELS LIKE HOME AGAIN: For Oregon State, Saturday was the first time playing in front of a home crowd since beating Arizona State 35-34 on November 16, 2019.

“We really appreciated the crowd,” Smith said. “Our guys were excited to get back home and run out there. And that student section with their energy — I thought our guys got a bunch out of that.”

EXTRA POINTS: Oregon State is now 8-4 all-time against Hawaii in a series dating back to 1923. Saturday’s game was just the third in the series played in Corvallis, with the Beavers also having won in 2008 and 2013 … between the first and second quarters, OSU freshman gymnast Jade Carey was introduced to the crowd and got a loud ovation. Carey won the gold medal in the floor exercise this summer at the Tokyo Olympics.

Oregon State inside linebacker Jack Colletto (12) flies backwards into the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Hawaii Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Corvallis, Ore. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)