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Jake Luton took a hard hit to the back by Ohio State’s Chase Young on Oregon State’s opening drive Saturday and did not return after suffering a concussion.

Coach Jonathan Smith said Luton is day to day as he goes through the concussion protocol and his status for Saturday’s home opener against Southern Utah (5 p.m.) is uncertain.

Smith said Monday if Luton is unable to play, Conor Blount would be first up.

Luton, Blount and Jack Colletto all battled for the starting job before Luton was named the starter last Monday.

Blount played the remainder of the first half, completing 12 of 19 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the 77-31 loss to the No. 5 Buckeyes.

“I did think Conor came into that game and did some really good things,” Smith said. “It’s tough on guys if they’re not the starter to prepare like a starter, but I think the way that Conor played showed that he did that. He gave us a spark.”

Collettto played the second half and was just 1 for 4 for two yards passing.

“Both those guys we feel it pays off that they got so many reps through August because all those guys have to be ready to go,” Smith said.

Nebraska pipeline

Smith announced Monday that former Nebraska quarterback Tristan Gebbia had joined the program.

Gebbia lost the starting quarterback battle to Adrian Martinez before deciding to leave Nebraska.

The former California prep star left Calabasas High as the state’s second-leading career passer with 13,109 yards and added 141 touchdowns.

Gebbia will sit out this season and will be a redshirt sophomore in the 2019 campaign.

He will reunite with former Cornhuskers’ teammate Avery Roberts, a linebacker, at Oregon State. Roberts joined the OSU program last week after leaving Nebraska.

“We’re happy they’re involved and with us and I believe they’ll really help us here in the future,” Smith said.

On Southern Utah

Two teams looking for their first win of the season will square off on Saturday in Reser Stadium when the Beavers welcome FCS Southern Utah.

The Thunderbirds are coming off a tough 34-30 home loss to North Alabama last Saturday night.

Chris Helbig was 28-for-38 passing for 316 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 31 on 13 carries with another score.

James Felili had 83 yards on 16 attempts with a touchdown, while Ty Rutledge had seven receptions for 161 yards and a score.

The Thunderbirds were balanced on offense, rushing for 216 yards and passing for 316.

“I know they didn’t come out with a win last weekend but probably should have at the end of the game having a couple tough calls on them,” Smith said. “So we’ve got a challenge ahead of us and we’re looking forward to it.”

Pierce’s wheels

Smith said he learned something about junior running back Artavis Pierce on Saturday — he’s pretty fast.

Pierce had touchdown runs of 80 and 78 yards on his way to a career-high 168 yards.

“I didn’t know he was that fast going down the sideline,” Smith said. “We actually took a vote in the team room on the first carry, paused the film about 10 yards down the field and I said, show of hands, who really thought he was going to go all the way. It was about 50-50.

“… AP has been steady. He works really hard so we like what he brings to the table.”

The Beavers rushed for 261 yards before having sacks and lost fumbles factored in to end with 196 net yards. Freshman Jermar Jefferson added 47 yards on eight rushes in his debut.

“I even thought Jermar had a couple good carries,” Smith said. “For a true freshmen in that atmosphere, we think he’s got some talent and he didn’t shy away from it. So those two guys (Pierce and Jefferson) are, again, guys that we feel good about.”

Playing hard throughout

One particular play that showed the kind of effort the Beavers may have lacked at times last season was on Shawn Wilson’s interception near the goal line in the third quarter. Wilson had a nice return before fumbling, but Kaleb Hayes picked up the loose ball and gained more yardage to help set up a field goal.

“These guys are playing hard, they’re still swinging, competing,” Smith said. “Even on that return I think we’re down 35 points, sidelines got some energy to it. If we can do this thing together and grow and learn and compete and then improve, we can feel good about things.”

Second-half slowdown

Oregon State finished last Saturday's loss with a time of possession of 28 minutes, 44 seconds. However, the Beavers had the ball just 10:43 in the second half, including for only 2:59 in the third quarter.

That was in part due to the long touchdown runs by Pierce that capped short drives.

Outside of those runs, the Beavers had 18 plays for just 44 yards in the second half.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald