OSU football: Strong start set the tone for success in 2012

2013-07-15T23:45:00Z 2013-07-29T18:11:21Z OSU football: Strong start set the tone for success in 2012By STEVE GRESS, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

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 first installment looking back at some of those key moments and performances.

There was no shortage of excitement and tense moments right from the start for the 2012 Oregon State football team.

After the Beavers saw their scheduled opener against Nichols State postponed by a hurricane, they waited to take on Wisconsin in what was arguably the biggest nonconferecne home game in school history.

The Beavers were up to the task.

The defense made many statements, limiting Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball to just 61 yards.

Not only that, the Beavers held the Badgers scoreless until late in the fourth quarter.

Then came a huge play as the Badgers attempted, and apparently recovered, an onside kick in the final minute.

But a replay review gave the ball back to the Beavers, who ran out the clock and held on for a 10-7 win.

While the win over the Badgers was impressive, two weeks later — following a bye — the Beavers were on the road to take on a UCLA team that was rolling along at 3-0.

Quarterback Sean Mannion passed for a career-high 379 yards and two touchdowns, and redshirt freshman running back Storm Woods broke loose for 96 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown.

Sophomore Brandin Cooks and senior Markus Wheaton both topped the century mark for receiving yards as Cooks had six catches for 175 yards, including a 75-yarder for a score in the second quarter, and Wheaton added nine for 150 yard.

The defense was once again up to the task of shutting down a high-powered running back as this time the Beavers held Johnathan Franklin, who entered as the nation’s leading rusher at 180.3 yards per game, to 45 yards on 12 attempts.

Next up was a game that turned out to be one of the defining moment for the 2012 season.

The Beavers jumped out big at Arizona, but what looked like a potential blowout for the Beavers midway through the second quarter, came down to the closing minutes.

After leading 17-0, the Beavers found themselves down 21-17 in the third quarter, and the game see-sawed back and forth over the final 20 minutes.

Down 35-31 late, Mannion connected with Wheaton on a deep pass down the sideline. Despite being interfered with, Wheaton made the grab and the Beavers were in business.

On a key third-and-5 from the 9, Mannion used play-action, then found Connor Hamlett on an out route for the winning score with 1:09 to play.

Rashaad Reynolds sealed the win as he stepped in front of receiver Tyler Slavin for a game-clinching interception.

Mannion finished with 433 yards passing, and coach Mike Riley became the winningest coach in program history, surpassing Lon Stiner with his 75th victory.

The Beavers were riding high and off to a 3-0 start with a home game against Washington State coming up next.

Steve Gress is the sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times. He can be reached at steve.gress@lee.net.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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