IN THE BLINK of an eye, it went from a game with promise to an orange and black nightmare. On a day dubbed “Shakeup Saturday” around college football, Oregon State not only shook up Pullman, it stunned the Cougars into oblivion in a 52-24 routing in Martin Stadium. The Beavers scored 35 unanswered points in the second half while Cougars turned over the ball on four straight possessions.
With the game tied at 24-all in the waning moments of the third quarter, an apparent fake punt by the Cougs deep in WSU territory spelled doom. The snap went to up man Jared Byers but he looked as surprised as the fans in Martin Stadium. In any event, the fumble, a loss of seven yards, put Oregon State on the WSU 27-yard line and the Beavs promptly scored to take the lead. OSU had just scored the last 14 points and from then on, it was a comedy of errors for WSU -- the Beavers went on to score another 21 unanswered points to add insult to injury.
DEFENSIVE PLAYS OF THE GAME:
OSU quarterback Sean Mannion, who completed 34 of 51 passes for 493 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, had little difficulty moving the ball against the Cougars. But the defense had a few highlights.
Senior safety Deone Bucannon made a pair of key plays in the red zone with WSU leading 3-0 late in the first quarter. On first-and-goal, Bucannon shot through the gap and stopped Woods for a 1-yard loss. Then on third down at the Cougars’ 3, Bucannon defended Mannion’s pass into the end zone. That resulted in the Beavers settling for a 20-yard field goal by Trevor Romaine.
On OSU’s opening possession of the second half, Woods was stopped by the Cougars’ line for a 2-yard loss. On the following play, true freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown broke up a Mannion pass to force a punt.
Linebacker Cyrus Coen sacked Mannion on the Beavers’ second possession of the second half to set up third-and-16. OSU was forced to punt.
Coen’s tackle on Woods during the fourth quarter initially was ruled a fumble, recovered by defensive lineman Destiny Vaeao in the red zone. That was overturned when replays showed Woods’ elbow hit the ground, but it still was a quality play.
Cornerback Damante Horton intercepted backup quarterback Cody Vaz in the red zone late in the game.
OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME:
With the game tied, 3-all in the second quarter, WSU coach Mike Leach elected to go for it on fourth-and-8 at OSU’s 40. Junior quarterback Connor Halliday rewarded him for his confidence when he found Dominique Williams for a 21-yard gain. The Cougars later scored on a 3-yard run by junior Marcus Mason.
After displaying plenty of composure in WSU’s road win last week at California, Halliday seemed flustered when the Beavers took a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter. He threw interceptions on three consecutive possessions. Halliday finished 26 of 49 for 248 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
OSU won the turnover battle 6-2, a figure that does not count the fake punt the Beavers turned into the go-ahead touchdown. That proved to be the biggest difference in the game.
MEANINGLESS STAT OF THE GAME:
Much was made of the Cougars’ ability to run the ball. They had 104 yards on 20 carries. But Caldwell’s fumble was a critical mistake.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKING:
This felt reminiscent of 2006. During that season, WSU went 3-2 in conference road games but squandered its opportunity to play in a bowl by going just 1-3 at home. The Cougars now are 2-0 in conference road games and 0-2 at home, counting the Stanford loss at CenturyLink Field. If WSU fails to advance to a bowl for the first time in a decade, this game will be remembered as a reason behind that. Leach’s aggressiveness paid off in the first and third quarters when he elected to go for it on fourth down and the Cougars translated both into touchdowns. But the call for a fake punt late in the third quarter was a curious call with the score tied 24-all. Mannion was throwing well against WSU’s secondary, but the Cougars’ defensive line also had some success pressuring him. The risk far outweighed the reward with the ball deep in WSU territory. OSU capitalized with a touchdown on that possession and never relinquished the momentum from that point.
SPECIAL TEAMS EDGE GOES TO …
WSU dominated this statistic based on the effectiveness of the run game. That changed late in the third quarter, though. Jared Byers could not corral a fake-punt snap and OSU took over at the Cougars’ 27. WSU running back Theron West partially blocked Keith Kostol’s punt during the first quarter, and Leon Brooks’ 26-yard punt return in the third quarter helped set up the Cougars’ touchdown that tied the game at 17.
The Cougars play at No. 2 Oregon at 7 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1.
10:49: Andrew Furney 27 FG. Key plays: Junior quarterback Connor Halliday found true freshman wide receiver for a 10-yard reception on third down. Two plays later, Halliday connected with sophomore wide receiver Dominique Williams on a 21-yard reception down to the Beavers’ 23-yard line.
0:31: Trevor Romaine 20 FG. Key play: Kevin Cummings caught an 8-yard pass from Sean Mannion to convert a third down. On the ensuing play, Mannion hit Richard Mullaney for a 22-yard pass down to WSU’s 17.
10:32: Junior running back Marcus Mason scored on a 3-yard run. Key plays: Coach Mike Leach elected to go for it on fourth-and-8 at OSU’s 40, and was rewarded when Halliday found Dominique Williams for a 21-yard gain. Three plays later, Halliday found Kristoff Williams for a 10-yard gain on third down to the Beavers’ 3.
6:55: Mannion found Connor Hamlett for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Key play: Mannion connected with Brandin Cooks for 11 yards on third down to the WSU 9.
0:44: Storm Woods scored on a 3-yard run. Key play: One play after Anthony Carpenter intercepted Mannion in the end zone, sophomore Teondray Caldwell was stripped by Dylan Wynn. Devon Kell recovered the fumble at the Cougars’ 36.
11:08: Jeremiah Laufasa leaps over Oregon State defenders for a 2-yard touchdown. The play initially was ruled a fumble that was recovered by the Beavers before being reversed on the replay. Key plays: Leon Brooks’ had a 26-yard punt return to the OSU 41. Laufasa then followed with an 11-yard run on first down. Halliday later had an 11-yard completion to Vince Mayle down to the Beavers’ 4.
4:50: Mayle made a spectacular grab on a 4-yard pass from Halliday in the left corner of the end zone on fourth down. Key play: Mayle also had an impressive 40-yard reception on third down to OSU’s 12.
1:03: Kevin Cummings 7-yard touchdown pass from Mannion. Key plays: On consecutive plays, Mannion found Caleb Smith for 31- and 21-yard gains.
14:55: Brandon Cooks scores on an 8-yard run. Key play: WSU’s failed fake punt gave the Beavers possession at the Cougars’ 27.
13:47: Woods’ scored on a 1-yard run.
10:40: Mannion threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Cooks.
6:43: Mannion threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Cooks.