SALT LAKE CITY – Oregon State’s performance in the first half on Saturday night at Utah was what many in Beaver Nation had expected out of the Beavers this season.

The second half was a sequel to the nightmare they witnessed in the season opener, a shocking 49-46 loss to FCS Eastern Washington, which lost 33-21 to Toledo on Saturday.

The Beavers bottled up quarterback Travis Wilson and the Utes in the first 30 minutes, limiting Wilson to 147 yards passing and zero rushing.

And when Sean Martin intercepted Wilson and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown on the Utes’ first drive of the third quarter, the Beavers had all the momentum and a 27-10 lead.

How quickly that changed.

Wilson finished with 279 yards passing and 142 yards rushing, all in the second half, and scored three times on the ground and tossed two touchdown passes as the Utes made it a wild shootout that topped the game in Tucson, Ariz., last season. The Beavers on that one 38-35.

Still, the Beavers found a way to win, as Sean Mannion connected with Brandin Cooks from six yards out in overtime for a thrilling 51-48 victory in the Pac-12 opener.

That touchdown may have saved the Beavers’ season.

Instead of being 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-12, the Beavers have now won two straight and are 1-0 in the conference for the second straight season.

“It’s really big," Riley said. "It’s a chance to build some momentum and confidence, obviously, and you don’t want to fall in a hole early. It’s great to win an opening conference game. Maybe this is an indicator of how our conference is going to go this year. It’s going to be really, really competitive.”

But as thrilling as it was, the second half was anything but pretty for the Beavers.

While the defense gets a lot of the blame for its inability to contain Wilson in the second half, they don’t get it all.

Like the first two games of the season, the Beavers were atrocious running the ball. They finished with 48 yards on 28 attempts and couldn’t do much in the fourth quarter when they had the lead.

“We were having a hard time running the ball, so we had to scramble around and found a way to make some plays," Riley said. "Richard Mullaney, Kevin (Cummings), all those guys took turn making plays. It was pretty neat how everybody battled out there, both teams”

Mannion once again carried the load with 443 yards through the air and five touchdowns.

Still, the Beavers had to settle for three Trevor Romaine field goals, which isn’t always bad but in what turns out to be a shootout, it can be the kiss of death.

Take the fourth quarter. After Mike Riley chose to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the OSU 45, converting with a trick play when Mannion pitched the ball to Terron Ward who threw it back to Mannion, who hit a wide-open Cooks to the 7, the Beavers settled for a 20-yard field goal to make it 37-31 instead of making it a two-score game.

Penalties were also a problem. Several false starts and substitution violations hurt at crucial times. All told, the Beavers had 10 penalties for 69 yards.

But when the game was on the line late, the Beavers made plays on offense and defense.

They even overcame the loss of Woods. Watching a teammate being taken off the field in an ambulance moments earlier makes it tough to focus on football. Woods was hurt when he was trying to make a block on a third-down play. He did give a thumbs up before being loaded into the ambulance.

“That, understandably so, takes the wind out of you," Riley said. "Everybody was worried. Then when the doctors and trainers came over and said that he was responsive and moving, everybody lightened up. They gave him a big applause and just started playing again.

“All I know is that he is stable. It seemed to be a very positive outlook.”

It may be a tough film to watch at times, but in the end the Beavers persevered. They need to shore up a lot, but it’s a lot better to have things to work on after a win.

Steve Gress is the sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times. He can be reached at

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

(7) comments

Vico Prima
Vico Prima

Yeah, It's great.Wilson performance is better day by day.
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Eastern Washington lost to Toledo by 33-21 on Saturday. Akron lost to Michigan 28-24.

The Beavers have some real issues and opponents seem be making changes to take advantage of them. The Offense has issues in the Red Zone. Two of the Beavers FGs should have been TDs, but the Offense got bogged down and could not push the ball into the end zone so the Beavers settled for FGs.

The Defense cannot defend against a mobile QB. This was true against Eastern Washington and was true against Utah.


Beavers were lucky that Utah did not show up as a team until the second quarter. This was kind of like the Stanford game in reverse, where Stanford dominated the Beavs for one quarter, then it was Beavers all the way until the Vaz fumble.

Without turnovers, Beavers many not have scored in the 3rd quarter. However, Beaver secondary was skillful enough to accept the 3 gifts offered up by Wilson, and scored easily after two of them.
For a Road game, at elevation, and vs. a Utah team the eventually played some hardnose football, this was a good win for the Beavers, who did have a number of clutch plays during the game, and especially in OT when it really counted. Why did they wait until OT to spy Wilson?

The other question is when will the DE give up the glory of the sack, to contain their side of the field from mobile QB's? If not the DE responsibility then which other position can take containment responsibility? Right now they are selling out the whole team for the Sack or Tackle for loss. If they contain their area and force the play to the middle, then our Defensive Line and Linebackers can make the play. This is both poor coaching and a lack of team play, consistently allowing outside containment to go out the window.


Glennn739 I agree with you. Why wait until OT for a QB spy? The DEs need to learn to CONTAIN a running QB is paramount. Currently they give them easy reads and "poof" the read option kills us as the ends are rushing in. Stanford is excellent at this: the ends fake what they are doing and the QB doesn't know whether to keep or hand off. Wrong decisions are made and next thing you know Stanford has beaten Oregon. Either Banker can't teach this, our DEs aren't that good (doubt it) or Banker neglects it. Either way I think Banker needs to step aside or we need a co-DC to help with the finer points of defending the Read Option offense.


Yeah, sorry for the screw up on Akron. I knew it was Toledo but somehow typed Akron. It was a crazy game and trying to write before the game is decided on deadline tends to mean a mistake or two. Still, hate making them.


I feel our defense begins with our kick off return on offense....we seem to always elect to run it back with a 160 pound athlete that will be finished should one big dude hit him. We always take the ball out of the endzone with our 160 pound dude....when we could easily take an automatic first play at our 25 and we rarely reach that zone?

This 160 pound Beaver is very talented and we need his skill far beyond idiotic kick off returns ... the point is our kick off returns are a set up for a multitude of unnecessary injuries for not only the returner , but all players concerned and we seem to accumulate more injuries of season ending consequence to major players than most top teams....

Our special teams always kick to end zone , never try a shortie surprise 30 yard bouncer and test the opponents slippery hands under pressure.....why not? We had at least 3 opportunities to really turn the tide trying this during Utah game ...why not?

Our Offensive line has sucked ever since the offensive coach arrived from Hawaii.... He should shut up his big mouth and coach, but he has Riley sold on his skill , which is evident is not relevant to winning in Pac 12 .... He was lucky he had LeVitre and is living off that man's talent....

We have superb offensive coaches, good solid defensive line coach , but really the offensive line has been miserable for 6 years at least...

Go get special teams adjusted and a new line coach...


Vico Prima
Vico Prima

Any update about Wilson in 2015?
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