Oregon State players and coaches talked this past week about the improvement the Beavers have made from the end of last season and throughout training camp.
But after Friday night, the Beavers still have plenty to work on if they hope to see that improvement show up in the win column.
Oklahoma State scored on five of its six first-half possessions — the only time the Cowboys didn’t score was on a one-play kneel-down at the end of the half — and the Beavers couldn’t keep pace offensively in what turned out to be a 52-36 loss before a sparse Reser Stadium crowd of 31,681.
The high-powered Cowboys, of the offensive-minded Big 12 Conference, piled up 555 yards or total offense, including 352 on the ground.
Running back Chuba Hubbard broke the century mark in the second quarter and finished with 221 yards on 26 carries.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders added 109 yards on the ground and finished 19-for-24 passing for 203 yards and three touchdowns.
Cowboys star receiver Tylan Wallace had five catches for 92 yards and two scored, with a possible third touchdown overturned by review.
Oregon State was able to move the ball at times as Jake Luton finished 23 for 42 for 251 yards and three touchdowns. Isaiah Hodgins had a big night receiving, catching nine passes for 170 yards and two scores.
Jermar Jefferson finished with 87 yards on 16 carries.
“If we want to win games we’ve got to play better on both sides of the ball,” Luton said. “Offensively, we’ve got to go out and be better. We can’t have three drives in a row where we stall out.”
The Beavers did take a 10-7 lead and it was tied at 10 early in the second before three consecutive three-and-outs by Oregon State’s offense allowed the Cowboys to take control by scoring three touchdowns.
Luton said the main reason for those three drives failing was execution.
“We started out at least two maybe all those drives we had to punt it away I think we started behind the chains, we had a penalty, a sack or something and that just can’t happen,” he said.
Added coach Jonathan Smith: “We got a couple balls batted down, we kind of lost some rhythm there which is unfortunate but it does happen. But there wasn’t anything specific they did on those drives that got us out.”
The Beavers ended a 24-0 Cowboys run with a touchdown late in the first half but they could never slow down the Oklahoma State offense.
The Cowboys took the opening possession of the third quarter and went 75 yards with Hubbard capping the drive that was just 2:40 with a 2-yard run and a 38-16 lead.
Luton connected with Hodgins three times on the ensuing drive, the final one from 10 yards out for a score to make it 38-23 with 9:50 left in the third.
But again any momentum was squashed as Hubbard burst up the middle and took it 53 yards to the house for a 45-23 lead with 7:54 left in the third. That run put Hubbard over the 200-yard mark.
After Oregon State finally got a defensive stop, Jack Colletto scored from a yard out to make it 45-29. The two-point conversion pass was deflected with 13:08 left.
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Once again the Cowboys answered as Sanders hit C.J. Moore for an 11-yard TD pass with 9:39 left got a 52-29 lead.
Backup quarterback Tristan Gebbia connected with Kolby Taylor for a 5-yard score with 1:19 left to make it 56-36.
While the ending was not the outcome the Beavers had hoped for, the start offensively was pretty good.
The Beavers took the opening kickoff and went 70 yards with Luton connecting with a wide-open Hodgins from 29 yards out for a 7-0 lead with 13:06 left in the period.
Oklahoma State countered with a 70-yard drive of its own with Hubbard capping off the nine-play drive with a 6-yard run to tie it at 7-all with 9:13 left.
Oregon State converted two third downs on its next drive but the 14-play drive stalled at the 12 and Jordan Choukair drilled a 30-yard field goal with 3:42 left to make it a 10-7 lead. The Beavers used 5:31 off the clock.
The Cowboys drove it to the Beavers 22 as the quarter came to a close.
Luton was 6 for 10 for 61 yards and a score and Jefferson rushed four times for 37 yards as the Beavers had 133 total yards to 115 for the Cowboys.
“Obviously we weren’t able to sustain that offensively and we’ve got to be able to get some stops defensively,” Smith said.
The Cowboys appeared to take the lead on a 6-yard pass from Sanders to Wallace early in the second. The officials went to the replay and overturned the call and Oklahoma State settled for a 23-yard field goal by Matt Ammendola to tie it at 10-all with 13:33 to play in the half.
Oklahoma State went 71 yard in 14 plays and chewed up 5:03 off the clock.
After the Cowboys forced a three-and-out, they went 86 yards for a touchdown that put them up 17-10 with 9:41 left. Oklahoma State had consecutive plays of 23, 26 and 20 yards before LD Brown capped the seven-play drive with a 5-yard run.
A second straight three-and out deep in Oregon State territory gave the Cowboys a short field and they needed just five plays to traverse 51 yards with Sanders connecting with Wallace for a 36-yard scoring play and a 24-10 lead with 6:45 left.
Another quick stop by the Cowboys defense and Oklahoma State was once again on offense.
And for the second possession in a row, Sanders connected with Wallace for a touchdown. This one a 21-yarder that was reviewed and confirmed, that put the Cowboys up 31-10 with 2:02 left in the half.
The Beavers tried to keep the game somewhat in reach as they marched to the 1 with seven seconds left. Luton hit Tyjon Lindsey for the score, his first as a Beaver, to make it 31-16. The two-point try was incomplete.
“Just looking where the score was going and trying to find ways to get an extra point or two figuring at some point we would be going for two to match scores,” Smith said of his reasoning for going for two.
Oklahoma State piled up 338 total yards of offense in the first half, with 189 on the ground. Hubbard had 132 yards on 17 rushing attempts while Sanders connected on 10 of 13 passes for 149 yards and the two scores to Wallace, who had three catches for 80 yards.
The Beavers managed 229 total yards. Hodgins had six receptions for 99 yards and one score and Jefferson finished with 49 rushing yards on eight carries. Luton was 14 for 26 for 136 yards.