While Cal Poly is nowhere close to the caliber of team Oregon State will face the rest of the football season, Saturday’s 45-7 thumping of the Mustangs before an announced crowd of 33,585 was about as good as the Beavers could have hoped.
Sure, it was a blowout, but the offense and defense both played well and for the most part it was a solid 60 minutes of football for the Beavers.
"We're happy with any win," coach Jonathan Smith said. "Because I've seen lower-level programs come in and get wins. We want to win the game but we want to play quality football all the time, which I think we did."
Smith said he was proud of the way the players responded to a tough loss last week in Hawaii and how the defensive players stayed focused while preparing to face a unique offense in the Mustangs’ triple-option attack.
The offense was nearly unstoppable in the first half as the Beavers scored on all six of their first-half possessions and finished with 356 total yards on 36 plays.
“We made the point early on we wanted to be efficient early, get up and put some points on the board and obviously we got to a place I don’t think we punted in the first half,” Smith said.
The defense limited Cal Poly to just 177 total yards in the first half, with 75 coming on the opening drive when the Mustangs scored their only touchdown of the game.
“We’ve got some momentum going there defensively (and) back-to-back weeks I think we’ve played winning football,” Smith said.
After struggling in the second half of a loss at Hawaii last week, quarterback Jake Luton completed 17 of 22 pass attempts for 255 yards and tied an Oregon State record with four first-half touchdowns. He played only one series in the second half before Tristan Gebbia came on and finished the game.
Luton connected seven times with his favorite target so far this season, Isaiah Hodgins, for 81 yards and the first two touchdowns of the game for the Beavers. Five of the receptions were for first downs.
He then teamed up with Champ Flemings five times for 142 yards and two more scores, including a 75-yarder at the end of the first half.
Even without sophomore running back Jermar Jefferson, who was nursing a foot injury and missed the game, the Beavers rushed for 258 yards.
Artavis Pierce got the start and carried 12 times for 90 yards, B.J. Baylor had seven rushes for 101 yards and a touchdown and Calvin Tyler Jr. added 59 yards on nine carries.
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Duy Tran-Sampson rushed for 137 yards for Cal Poly, which finished with 203 yards on the ground. Quarterback Jalen Hamer added 27 yards on 21 carries with three sacks for a loss of 16 yards factored in.
The Beavers started fast and never slowed down in an impressive first 30 minutes. Pierce had 42 yards on the opening drive and Luton and Hodgins teamed up three times for 32 yards.
Hodgins capped the drive with a toe-touch in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown just 3:34 into the the game.
The defense had a bit of a shaky start as the Mustangs answered with a score of their own. The big play was a 53-yard pass from Hamler to J.J. Koski to the OSU 10. Three plays later, Hamler hit Xavier Moore from eight yards out to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:02 left.
Hodgins caught his second touchdown of the game, this one from 11 yards out, one play after the Beavers went for it on fourth-and-3 from the Cal Poly 17. That put the Beavers up 14-7 with 5:39 left in the period.
The defense forced a three-and-out and the offense went 68 yards in seven plays with Baylor capping off the drive with a 6-yard run for a 21-7 lead with 48 seconds left in the quarter.
Hamilcar Rashed Jr. nearly had another trifecta as he sacked Hamler on the next possession and forced a fumble that was recovered by Omar Speights at the Cal Poly 21 as the quarter ended. Last week, Rashed Jr. had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery on the same play against Hawaii.
The Beavers had to settle for a field goal and Jordan Choukair’s 26-yard kick made it 24-7 with 13:02 left in the half.
The Mustangs finally got some offense going and moved inside the OSU 20, but a 37-yard field goal attempt was no good with 6:39 left in the half.
The Beavers scored again as the 5-foot-5 Flemings went up and took the ball away from the Cal Poly defensive back for a 47-yard touchdown that put OSU up 31-7 with 3:48 left on the clock.
“Jake just trusted me and he put the ball up,” Flemings said. “The defender did go up and tried to pick it off but I just felt like I could outjump him. So I jumped up there, was able to track the ball with my eyes and make a good catch.”
Cal Poly missed another field goal, this one from 42 yards out, and left the Beavers 37 seconds. They didn’t need that much to put an exclamation point on the first half as Luton hit Flemings in stride at the Cal Poly 45 and he went the distance for a 75-yard play and a 38-7 lead with 21 seconds left in the half.
“The defense gave us a cover-2 look so I just tried to extend the play and Jake gave me a great ball, hit me in stride and I was just able to run up the sideline,” Flemings said.
The second half was not nearly as explosive. Baylor had a 74-yard burst and Gebbia scored on a 5-yard keeper for a 45-7 lead with 6:59 left in the third.
But it was more than enough to head into a bye week with plenty of momentum.