A close game quickly went haywire for Oregon State.
The third quarter proved to be the Beavers’ undoing in a 48-14 nonconference football loss to Minnesota in Reser Stadium on a damp Saturday evening.
A light rain began in the first half and stuck around into the second half.
Down 20-14 and needing a big drive to start the second half, the Beavers went three-and-out. But the defense was able to stop the Minnesota drive and give the offense a second chance.
That chance ended with a Ryan Nall fumble at the OSU 14, the third lost fumble of the game for OSU. The Gophers ran the ball in and took a 27-14 lead.
A crushing tackle on Artavis Pierce for a loss set the tone for the next OSU possession. The Beavers went three-and-out again and the Gophers had set a definite tone with their physical play.
Minnesota proceeded to take the ball 71 yards in nine plays, helped by a targeting call on Jalen Moore, and took a 34-14 lead with 1 minute, 34 seconds to go in the third.
The Beavers ended the quarter with minus-4 yards rushing and 24 total yards after putting up 190 in the first half.
Meanwhile, Minnesota rolled up 253 yards rushing with five touchdowns.
“We obviously struggled to stop the run," OSU coach Gary Andersen said. "Especially when the game was on the line, we had to be able to try to get back into it, we couldn’t stop the run effectively.”
The Gophers gobbled up a big chunk of time in the fourth with a 15-play, 77-yard drive that lasted 9:24 and put them up 41-14.
A Demry Croft 64-yard touchdown run made it 48-14 with under 3 minutes left.
"Obviously, they’re hurt. No doubt about it," Andersen said. "These kids will continue to fight. I believe and think they’ll come back. We’re at a crucial moment, crucial times and we have to be able to come back and battle."
The Beavers got a third-and-short stop on the first drive of the game. The Beavers took over and quarterback Jake Luton hit Jordan Villamin, who spun away from a defender for a 30-yard catch and run, but OSU could not capitalize.
Minnesota made OSU pay, striking quickly for a 7-0 lead. Conor Rhoda found Tyler Johnson open in the middle of the field and he raced untouched for a 67-yard score.
The Beavers had a promising drive blown up by a Noah Togiai fumble that the Gophers recovered at their 40. A dumpoff pass to Rodney Smith went for 22 yards and a 19-yard toss to Johnson took the ball to the OSU 14, but the Beavers held them out of the end zone and Minnesota had to settle for a field goal and a 10-0 lead.
Luton lost the ball on a sack and the Gophers took over at the OSU 24 and marched in for a 17-0 lead.
The Beavers finally responded and did it in strange fashion. OSU went 80 yards in 15 plays, but had to go to a trick play on a fourth down, with Tuli Wily-Matagi making a sliding catching on the wet turf on a throw from Timmy Hernandez, who rolled out after taking the snap in what looked like a punt formation.
OSU got the ball to the 1, but an unsportsmanlike conduct flag moved the Beavers back to the 16. No matter as Luton hit Villamin for the score.
This time the Beavers got a quick turnaround when Bright Ugwoegbu recovered a fumble and set up the offense at the UM 17. A pass interference call moved the ball to the 2 and Trevorris Johnson ran up the middle for the score to get within 17-14 with 8:33 left in the half.
The Gophers took a 20-14 lead into the half after a 40-yard field goal with 3:41 left in the half.
Jake Luton was 16-for-28 passing for 135 yards and one TD. The Beavers rushed for just 80 yards on 26 attempts.
Smith led the Gophers with 92 on 30 carries and Shannon Brooks 91 on 17 attempts with three touchdowns.