Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith emptied the playbook on Saturday night.
True freshman Jermar Jefferson topped the century mark for the fourth time this season, finishing with 139 yards on 25 carries with a school record-tying four touchdowns.
And the Beavers gave Washington State all it could handle until late in the third quarter before a loud and engaged Reser Stadium crowd of 34,429.
But in the end, the Beavers came up short of their first Pac-12 win since beating Oregon in the 2016 Civil War as the Cougars pulled away for a 56-37 Pac-12 victory.
Down 30-28, the Cougars scored on back-to-back possessions and got a defensive stop between them to take control.
The Beavers fall to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Pac-12 as they enter their bye week. OSU next hosts California on Oct. 20.
WSU improves to 5-1 and 2-1; the Cougars also have a bye and will host Oregon on Oct. 20.
“It’s pretty similar to the last few weeks,” coach Jonathan Smith said. "It’s tough to get over the hump. We continue to battle but it’s a recurring thing that we get ourselves down 14-0 but battle back.”
Jefferson broke the century mark for the fourth time and scored four touchdowns for the second time this season. Jefferson also had four touchdowns against Southern Utah.
Only Ken Simonton has two four-touchdown games for a career.
WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew passed for 430 yards, completing 30 of 40 passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tay Martin finished with eight catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns while Easop Winston added seven catches for 99 yards.
"Things didn't go our way," defensive back Shawn Wilson said. "Fifty-sx points, that hurts anyone. They're a great team. ... We've just got to execute next time."
OSU’s Conor Blount completed 15 of 21 passes for 172 yards before suffering a shoulder injury midway through the fourth quarter.
Trevon Bradford had eight catches for 68 yards and Timmy Hernandez hauled in six catches for 92 yards.
“I thought offensively we were able to find some things in the run game and distribute the ball at times and move the ball,” Smith said. “It got us back in the game.”
After a see-saw first half that saw the Cougars hold a 28-24 lead, Champ Flemings set the Beavers up with a 57-yard return to open the third quarter.
After they converted their fourth fourth-down play of the game to get to the one, Jefferson took it in for TD No. 4 on the night and a 30-28 OSU lead after a missed PAT with 12:10 left in the period.
Max Borghi gave the lead back to the Cougars, 35-30, with a 1-yard plunge with 6:37 left in the third.
After a defensive stop, Minshew hit Travell Harrison from 3 yards out for a 42-30 lead with 14:22 to play.
The Beavers were knocking on door but Jefferson fumbled as he lunged for a first down and the ball went into the end zone and was recovered by WSU for a touchback.
The Cougars put the game out of reach as Minshew hit Martin for 27 yards and the touchdown to go up 49-30 with 9:06 left.
Borghi added a 30-yard run for a 56-30 lead with 1:11 left before B.J. Baylor scored from four yards out for the Beavers with 35 seconds left.
“We gave it our all out there but it’s just not quite good enough over a long period of time,” Smith said.
The game started about as bad as it could for the Beavers.
It took the Cougars just three plays and 1:16 to go 75 yards for a 7-0 lead. Minshew hit James Williams for 42 yards, Winston for 28 and Renard Bell for 6 and the score.
After forcing a three-and-out, Kainoa Wilson blocked a bunt and Tristan Brock returned it five yards for a 14-0 lead just 2:28 into the game.
The rout appeared to be on.
The Beavers, however, responded with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that saw the them convert two fourth-down plays and chew up 6:11 off the clock.
Jefferson bolted six yards for the score to get the Beavers within 14-7 with 6:16 left in the first quarter.
Oregon State caught a major break when WSU muffed Blount’s pooch punt and Bradford recovered at the 7. Jefferson needed one carry to cash in as the Beavers tied the game at 14 with 1:21 left in the first quarter.
The Cougars answered as Minshew hit Martin for 38 yards and the score. Martin pulled in the ball in front of Kaleb Hayes, who had pretty good coverage on the play and wound up with the ball.
The Beavers used some razzle-dazzle on the ensuing kickoff as Kase Rogers threw back across the field to Flemings to set the Beavers up at the WSU 45.
Oregon State reached the 14 but settled for a 32-yard Jordan Choukair field goal to cut the deficit to 21-17 with 8:35 left in the half.
The Beavers took their first lead — 24-21 — on Jefferson’s 3-yard scamper after Bradford took a reverse 56 yards to the 4.
Washington State was able to regain the momentum 34 seconds before the half as Minshew hit Williams for a 15-yard TD to cap a 12-play, 78-yard drive that used 4:06 off the clock.
That allowed the Cougars to take a 28-24 lead into the intermission.