At the end, it was another gut-wrenching loss for the Oregon State football team.
The Beavers let Stanford off the hook at the end in a 15-14 Pac-12 loss to the No. 20 Cardinal in Reser Stadium on Thursday night.
The Beavers led 14-9 and had a first down at their 43 with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left. Another first down or two and the upset would be complete.
That’s when Ryan Nall fumbled. Stanford recovered, converted on a fourth-and-10 play after three straight incompletions and eventually wound up scoring the game-winner.
“So not the outcome that (we) wanted,” OSU interim coach Cory Hall said. “Second game in a row. And the expectation has changed.
“Beaver football is changing and this is evidence of it. Disappointed, yes, but still encouraged and still encouraging all of our players.”
The Beavers always want to establish the run and stopping the ground game was not a strong point for Stanford coming into Thursday’s game.
The halftime stats bore that out. While both teams struggled offensively, the Beavers were able to show some pop on the ground and had 84 yards rushing.
The Beavers finished with 138 yards and two touchdowns, but lost two fumbles and both proved to be costly.
The second was the back-breaker.
“There was penetration, I tried to make a jump-cut and a kid stuck his hand out on the ball and was on the ball and it just popped out,” Nall said. “I tried to fight for it but I couldn’t get it back.”
On the other side of the ball, it certainly helped that Bryce Love was unable to play.
The Beavers took a 14-6 lead early in the third thanks in part to two big penalties on Stanford. The first was an unsportsmanlike conduct call that kept the drive going on a third down play.
The second was roughing the passer and targeting on a 23-yard pass from Darell Garretson to Noah Togiai. The penalty moved the ball to the Stanford 18 and Thomas Tyner darted in from there.
The Beavers got the ball back on an interception by Omar Hicks-Onu and moved the ball to the Stanford 34, but Jordan Choukair’s field goal try was short.
The Cardinal cut it to 14-9 after a 43-yard drive and that score held at the end of the third.
The Beavers forced a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, but were held to a three-and-out by Stanford and Nick Porebski shanked the punt, which went six yards and set up the Cardinal at the OSU 28.
OSU’s defense held and Stanford’s 34-yard field goal try missed wide.
Both teams struggled to move the ball effectively in the first quarter and the game went into the second scoreless.
Stanford was able to move into field-goal range early in the second and this time Jet Toner hit a 40-yarder for a 3-0 lead.
The Beavers responded with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive sparked by Nall, who had runs of 20 and 15 yards and an eight-yard run by tackle Fred Lauina on a backwards pass from Garretson to the Stanford 5. Garretson eventually scored from the 3.
That 7-3 score looked like it was going to hold for the first half. Both teams had short possessions at the end of the second, but the Beavers handed the Cardinal a field goal when Garretson and Nall fumbled the exchange on a run play at the OSU 16.
“That was a little more complicated than I thought,” Nall said. “We came down to the conclusion that it kind of got stuck in his glove and he was trying to pull it. I didn’t feel it and so I didn’t clamp down all the way.”
OSU was able to hold Stanford out of the end zone and it was 7-6 at the half.