Editor’s note: The 2012 Oregon State football season had some memorable moments and performances as the Beavers had a turnaround season, going 9-4 and reaching the Alamo Bowl.
With fall camp around the corner — the Beavers return to the field on Aug. 5 — here’s the second installment looking back at some of those key moments and performances.
Following a 3-0 start that included an upset of a ranked Wisconsin team and two huge Pac-12 road wins over UCLA and Arizona, the Oregon State football team welcomed a Washington State team under first-year coach Mike Leach to Reser Stadium.
While the Beavers were coming off strong offensive performances against the Bruins and Wildcats, it was the defense that was huge against the Cougars.
The Beavers limited WSU to 20 yards rushing, and Jordan Poyer picked off three passes in a 19-6 win. Scott Crichton also had a standout game with four tackles for loss.
Still, the Beavers led just 13-6 late in the fourth quarter until Tyler Anderson scored from a yard out to provide breathing room.
Just when it looked like a dream season was in the works, word came down two days later that starting quarterback Sean Mannion had injured his knee and was out indefinitely.
Panic seemed to strike everyone — except the players and coaches.
But in stepped backup QB Cody Vaz as if he was a seasoned veteran.
The junior signal-caller threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns against a BYU defense that was rated fifth-best in the nation as the Beavers rolled to a 42-24 win and a 5-0 start.
The game was close — the Beavers led 28-24 midway through the fourth quarter — before Markus Wheaton ran for a 12-yard touchdown and Poyer sealed the win with a 47-yard interception return for a score.
Vaz got the start again the next week — at home against Utah — and while the Beavers went wild in the air the previous week, it was time for the running game to take center stage.
Storm Woods rushed for a career-best three touchdowns and the Beavers’ defense turned in another strong performance in a 21-7 win to improve to 6-0, the best start in program history.
The Beavers had climbed to No. 7 in The Associated Press poll and headed to Seattle to take on the rival Washington Huskies at CenturyLink Field.
OSU saw the return of Mannion to the starting lineup, but also lost Wheaton to a vicious helmet-to-helmet blow in the first half.
Mannion struggled, tossing four interceptions, the last helping the Huskies to a lead late in the game.
In came Vaz, who led the Beavers to a tying touchdown as he hit Connor Hamlett from 29 yards out with just under five minutes to play.
But the Huskies were able to kick a short field goal and end the Beavers’ undefeated season with a 20-17 win.
If the loss wasn’t bad enough, the Beavers now had a quarterback controversy.
Facing Arizona State at home, the Beavers turned the keys to the offense back over to Vaz.
It didn’t go well early as Vaz fumbled and the Sun Devils scored for the quick lead.
Down 19-10 early in the second quarter, the Beavers scored 26 unanswered points over the next two quarters and earned a 36-26 win.
ASU’s final touchdown came with 22 second remaining.
With Woods out, Terron Ward stepped in at running back and rushed for 146 yards on 19 carries, scoring a touchdown in the process, as the Beavers went to 7-1 and prepared for a difficult closing stretch.