The defense came up with the stops.
The offense with big plays.
Oregon State broke away from Arizona State in the second half for a 36-26 Pac-12 win on Saturday evening before 45,979 fans at Reser Stadium.
The Beavers improved to 7-1 overall, 5-1 in conference.
Terron Ward got the fourth quarter started with a 29-yard burst up the middle. After a 1-yard run by Ward to the ASU 49, Cody Vaz spotted Brandin Cooks roaming open in the Sun Devils’ secondary and dropped the ball in for a touchdown and a 36-19 lead.
With the OSU defense shutting door after door, it was a backbreaker for the Sun Devils.
ASU (5-4, 3-3) came up with an interception but Steve Christian had a pick of his own with 6 minutes, 52 seconds to go. The Sun Devils wouldn’t get the ball back until there was 2:26 left in the game.
With Storm Woods banged up and sitting out, No. 3 tailback Ward saw his first significant action and came up clutch for the Beavers, finishing with 146 yards on 19 carries.
He had a touchdown run of 53 yards in the second quarter and spent the rest of the game pounding away at the Sun Devils.
That was key for the Beavers because of ASU’s pass rush.
“Terron had a great night,” Vaz said. “He stepped up big for us and had some great runs and kept them guessing a little bit on defense. We were able to gash them with some big runs so they weren’t able to pressure us as much.”
As it was, the Sun Devils sacked Vaz six times, but just once in the second half. That allowed him to find his receivers and he finished with 267 yards and three touchdowns, two to Markus Wheaton.
“They have a great defense and a great group of athletes and they really got after it tonight,” Vaz said. “But at the same time we needed it and we had guys on the offensive line step up and guys on the perimeter step up and they played for us.”
The Beavers held the Sun Devils to 303 total yards with 77 coming on their final drive of the game.
“We had some good stops which let us put points on the board,” linebacker Michael Doctor said. “We knew that if we continued to stop them the game would be over.”
The Beavers took a 26-19 lead on their first drive of the second half.
Playing with a short field thanks in part to a 15-yard punt return by Wheaton, the Beavers went 52 yards in five plays. Vaz rolled out and found Cooks open for 25 yards and then hit Wheaton on a timing route for a 17-yard score.
Ward seemed to have his second TD of the game in the third quarter but a holding call eventually forced a field goal by Trevor Romaine, his third of the game, for a 29-19 lead.
The Sun Devils finally were able to put together a threat late in the third but came away empty on a missed field goal.
OSU finished with 139 yards in the third. The Beavers held ASU to drives of 2, 20 and 1 before giving up 55 yards on the Sun Devils’ final possession of the quarter.
The Beavers were able to overcome a slow start to the game and went into half tied at 19.
“I would say we were pretty excited about where we were,” Wheaton said. “To be tied at 19, we were pretty happy.”
The tie was due mainly to a strong second quarter by the OSU defense.
The Sun Devils opened the scoring with a 31-yard field goal by Jon Mora for a 19-10 lead.
Ward cut it to 19-16 on OSU’s next possession with a 53-yard sprint up the middle. The Beavers had been struggling with the Sun Devils’ pass rush, so they went to the ground for the big play.
After a shaky start on defense, the Beavers began to stiffen. They forced ASU to punt on their last two possessions of the half.
That set up a late drive by the Beavers. Vaz hit Cooks for 20 yards to get it going. He went to Connor Hamlett for what turned out to be 16 yards after Hamlett dragged a couple Sun Devils several extra yards. A roughing the passer penalty and a 14-yard toss to Kevin Cummings moved the ball to the ASU 9.
Two sacks put an end to the touchdown threat, but Romaine hit a field goal from 45 yards out to tie it.
OSU outgained ASU 184 to 145, helped by two big scoring plays. After going 1 for 7 in the first quarter, Vaz finished the half at 9 for 20 for 125 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked five times.
The Beavers held ASU to 69 yards passing.
It was bad beginning by Vaz. After two incompletions to start the game, the ball slipped out of his hand and was recovered for a touchdown by Junior Onyeali. Vaz was being pressured by Will Sutton but lost the ball before he was hit.
The Beavers bounced back from the defensive score with a 49-yard drive in seven plays and made it 7-3 with a 41-yard knuckleball by Romaine.
The Sun Devils wasted little time in going up 14-3, driving 75 yards in 2:37 with Cameron Marshall hurdling over from the 1.
It took two plays for the Beavers to respond. Vaz hit Wheaton on a crossing pattern and Wheaton turned it upfield and raced past the Sun Devils for a 50-yard score.
The Beavers dodged a bullet when Vaz was sacked and fumbled deep in OSU territory but the ball was recovered by OSU at the 2.
OSU wasn’t so lucky on the next possession. Vaz was sacked again, this time dumped at the OSU 1. The Beavers were eventually forced to punt and ASU blocked it for a safety and a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.