LOS ANGELES — The Oregon State football was looking for signs of life on offense on Saturday at USC after a disastrous performance against Washington.
The Beavers had a paltry 184 total yards for the game against the Huskies and a barely more than 100 going into the fourth.
On Saturday, the improvement in a week was significant but did not change the outcome in a 38-10 Pac-12 loss to the 14th-ranked Trojans. The Beavers finished with 319 total yards — 197 passing and 122 rushing.
“It was better, but it was still the same net result,” coach Gary Andersen said. “In the end, the score is what the score is. We had opportunities to kick a couple field goals, didn’t happen. Finally got one through. But we had opportunities to finish drives in the red zone numerous times and we were unable to.
“We’d move it in between the 20s or get the ball at the 50 and move it to the 20 and then we don’t get points.”
Statistically, it wasn’t much better at USC through the first half. The Beavers had 109 total yards. Unlike the UW game, the Beavers moved the ball slightly better on the ground (66 yards) than through the air (43).
Unlike the loss to UW, the Beavers were able to keep the ball moving in the second half.
“I feel like the offense was better than last week,” running back Artavis Pierce said. “It just a couple things we could have done better, but I feel we did better overall.”
Pierce said the Beavers could execute a little bit more, which would have made for an even bigger improvement.
Pierce said the USC game was similar to Washington.
The Beavers had to make do without running back Ryan Nall, who was in a boot during the week.
That meant a heavy dose of Pierce, Thomas Tyner and Trevorris Johnson. And Pierce, who led OSU with seven carries for 30 yards in the first half, was banged up in the second quarter. Pierce was able to return and rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown.
Quarterback Darell Garretson seemed to find his rhythm throwing the ball in the third and moved the Beavers to the USC 4, with a drive that included a 33-yard pass to Seth Collins, but fumbled the ball away.
Garretson went deep to Collins on the next possession for what looked at first glance to be a 39-yard touchdown, after which Collins was hit for an unsportsmanlike penalty for taunting, thinking he had scored. A replay showed Collins was down at the goal line, but the penalty moved it back to the 15.
Instead of squandering the chance, the Beavers punched it in with Pierce to cut the deficit to 28-10.
Garretson finished with 197 yards on 16-of-29 passing. He was able to open it up in the second half and was helped by Collins, who led OSU with five receptions for 91 yards.
Tight end Noah Togiai was back in the mix and had four catches for 21 yards. Receiver Xavier Hawkins had a 38-yard catch and two for 39.
Isaiah Hodgins was also back in action and had two catches for 27 yards.
The pass game was not working in the first half.
The Beavers began the game with a holding penalty and then lost the ball when Garretson tossed an interception on third down.
That led to a 14-0 deficit with a long way to go.
Another three-and-out was saved for a moment when the Trojans muffed Nick Porebski’s punt and Brandon Arnold recovered at the USC 29. But the Beavers could not move the ball and a field goal try failed.
The Beavers got yet another chance on the next drive when Bright Ugwoegbu recovered a fumbled and got the ball to the USC 23. But the offense had the ball for three plays before another field goal attempt went awry.
The defense forced a three-and-out and the offense began with good field position at the OSU 47. Tyner had an 11-yard run and Garretson hit Hodgins for 21 to move the Beavers inside the 10.
Garretson had tight end Tuli Wily-Matagi wide open in the back of the end zone but the pass was just off the mark and dropped. Then Garretson was dropped for a sack on third down forcing a third field goal try and this one went through to make it a 14-3 game in the second.