BERKELEY, Calif. — It seemed only fitting that Hamilcar Rashed Jr. and Isaac Hodgins put an end to Oregon State’s 21-17 Pac-12 football win over California on Saturday in Strawberry Canyon.
The duo converged on true freshman quarterback Spencer Brasch to put the finishing touches on a defensive performance that was night and day to the one Oregon State had just a week ago in a 52-7 drubbing by Utah.
The Beavers’ defense finished with nine sacks and had 14 tackles for loss in a defensive slugfest that resulted in their second road Pac-12 win of the season.
"I can’t say enough about defensively, just harassing the quarterback, doing some things in the backfield," coach Johnathan Smith said.
"We came in with the mindset of wanting to attack and coach (Tim) Tibesar and this staff put a great plan together and those guys went out and flied around. Played with some energy, contested balls and played aggressively."
The nine sacks are the most since 2001 as are the 14 TFLs. The Beavers now had 60 TFLS this season, seven more than all of last season.
Rashed had three sacks while Riley Sharp also had three as the Beavers bent at times but rarely broke on Saturday. It was the first time since Scott Crichton had three sacks against Washington State in 2012.
"Our defense was put in position to help us get those numbers but we just executed what our coaches have been teaching and telling us to do," Sharp said. "We were just in the right place at the right time because of our coaching."
Smith was happy to see Sharp make such a big impact.
"Riley’s been working and when he’s been asked to go has taken advantage of his opportunities," he said. "He had a great week of practice and got a bunch of reps this week and had a great game."
The Beavers (3-4, 2-2) have a bye week before heading to Arizona on Nov. 2.
As great as the defense played, the offense needed to rally the Beavers, who trailed 17-14 after blowing a 14-0 lead in the first half.
After looking mostly anemic for a good chunk of the second half, the Beavers' offense came up with a 12-play, 80-yard drive to take a 21-17 lead thanks to B.J. Baylor’s 13-yard run when he rolled over a defender and was never down before the ball crossed the goal line.
The play was reviewed and confirmed and the Beavers had the lead with 4:41 to play.
Artavis Pierce kept the drive alive with a 20-yard run on third-and-10 from the 40 moments before.
Cal had plenty of time to mount a comeback but starting quarterback Devon Modster was injured on the previous drive and Brasch came on. His third pass was tipped by Rashed and Jaydon Grant came up with the interception.
The Beavers were able to run off three-plus minutes and force Cal to use all of its timeouts before punting with 1:05 left.
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Luton finished 18 of 34 for 174 yards and two scores while Pierce had 23 carries for 80 yards and Baylor chipped in eight for 37.
For much of the second half, it looked like it would be another tough loss for the Beavers, who had lost two of their four games entering the day by a combined six points.
Cal took a 17-14 lead after a three-play drive that covered 50 yards with Modster hitting Jordan Duncan from 33 yards out with 32 seconds left in the third.
The Bears had great field position after Jesiah Irish muffed a punt and OSU started its drive at the 2. The Beavers didn’t gain a yard.
Oregon State had just 11 plays in the third quarter and netted only 20 yards with 11 coming on the final two plays of the period.
The Bears finally punched the ball into the end zone thanks to a pass interference call and unsportsmanlike penalty on Smith to set Cal at the 1.
Brown scored on the next play and Cal cut the deficit to 14-10 with 5:41 left in the third.
Modster had a 37-yard scramble to keep the drive alive. He fumbled on the play but the Beavers were unable to recover.
The Beavers jumped on the board first with a 12-play, 62-yard drive with Luton finishing it off with a 7-yard pass to Pierce. The Beavers did not have a negative play on the drive after three on the first two possessions.
Everett Hayes’ PAT made it 7-0 with 35 seconds left in the first quarter.
Cal put together its bets drive and reached the 12 on a 26-yard scramble by Modster. But a 10-yard sack by Sharp on second down pushed the Bears back to the 22. Greg Thomas eventually missed a 39-yard field goal and the Beavers kept their 7-0 lead with 9:51 left in the half.
The Beavers took the next possession the length of the field, overcoming a couple big negative plays with Luton capping the 12-play drive with a 4-yard strike on the slant to Isaiah Hodgins for a 14-0 lead with 4:33 left in the half.
Tight ends Teegan Quitoriano (21 yards) and Noah Togiai (16) had big receptions on the drive and Tyjon Lindsey had a 10-yard run to get the ball to the 4.
Cal finally got on the board as the Bears reached the 22 before settling for a 44-yard field goal to make it 14-3 at the half.
The Beavers held Cal to 46 yards rushing on 22 attempts (4 sacks for 23 yards factored in) in the first half and 125 total on 37 plays. OSU had nine tackles for loss for minus-29 yards.
Luton was 13 of 20 for 129 yards and hit six different receivers in the first half with Isaiah Hodgins catching four for 31 yards and a touchdown. Pierce had three for 23 and a score.