Jalen Moore was all smiles Saturday afternoon as he talked about returning to the playing field and being with his teammates.
The Oregon State senior safety sat out the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury. But he was back at work against Cal Poly.
Moore had six tackles, including four solos, in the Beavers’ 45-7 win at Reser Stadium.
OSU coach Jonathan Smith said he likes Moore as a player because of the confidence he plays with and because he’s a good tackler. Smith says that confidence rubs off on the team.
Moore had a team-best 102 tackles, making him the first Beaver in five seasons to break the century mark.
Saturday, he got beat on a 53-yard play on the Mustangs’ first pass of the game that led to a touchdown three plays later. He took the blame for the play and blamed it on miscommunication.
But Moore and the Beavers shut down the opposition the rest of the way.
Teammate John McCartan, an outside linebacker, had a team-high 12 tackles with six solos and two for loss. The sophomore had four tackles in each of the first two games this season.
The Beavers were without several key players due to injury.
Running back Jermar Jefferson was out after missing practice with a boot on his foot. Defensive end Jordan Whittley (knee), wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey (leg), outside linebacker Matthew Tago (knee) and center Nathan Eldridge (ankle) also didn’t play.
OSU senior left guard Gus Lavaka and sophomore defensive back Kaleb Hayes were suspended for the first half follow separate incidents in the Hawaii game a week earlier. Lavaka punched a Hawaii player at the conclusion of the game, while Hayes punched a teammate.
Through the air
It was a big day for Oregon State’s passing game.
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Jake Luton’s four first-half touchdown passes tied a program record for most TDs in a half.
The senior hit Isaiah Hodgins for 8- and 11-yard receptions in the first quarter and Champ Flemings from 47 and 75 yards out in the second quarter.
Hodgins, a junior, became the first Beavers receiver to catch a touchdown in each of the first three games of the season since Brandin Cooks did it in 2013, the season he won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.
On the season, Hodgins has 23 catches for 347 yards and five touchdowns.
Flemings made the first two TD catches of his collegiate career.
Finally a turnover
Oregon State suffered its first turnover of the season, an interception thrown by Tristan Gebbia on a pass that bounced off a teammate’s helmet.
The Beavers entered the game as one of five FBS schools without a turnover.
Oregon State freshman tight end Luke Musgrave, from Bend, made his first career catch with a 14-yard grab from Gebbia in the third quarter.
Freshman running back Ta’Ron Madison carried the ball for the first time, running 6 yards on two attempts.
A familiar face
Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh, now in his 11th season with the Mustangs, was Portland State’s head coach for 14 seasons. Walsh’s overall record at Cal Poly is 57-60, and he’s led the Mustangs to the FCS playoffs twice.