Brief moment in time just long enough for OSU

SUAESI TUIMAUNEI had a big forced fumble early

IT DIDN'T LAST very long – it was only about five and a half minutes. But that stretch to open the second half ultimately won OSU the game over Louisville. On special teams, offense and defense, OSU finally found "it" coming out of the locker room. Execution was suddenly crisp, and in all phases of the game. But it was all too brief, and what looked like a comfortable win turned into a nailbiter.

It would have been something to have been a fly on the wall in the OSU locker room at halftime.

Whether Mike Riley and staff peeled some paint or just spent some quality minutes going over plays and assignments, whatever it was, it worked.

With OSU up 21-14, James Rodgers took the opening kickoff of the second half back into Louisville territory. Ryan Katz marched the Beavs 46 yards in four plays, with Jacquizz Rodgers third TD of the day capping the drive.

OSU's special teams then limited Louisville on the ensuing kick to their own 25-yard line, courtesy of Uani Unga and Feti Unga combining on the tackle and the defense, with a renewed emphasis on execution that was missing in the first half, had Louisville going backwards. The Cardinals lost six yards on their three-and-out.

James Rodgers and the special teams again made their mark – a 15 yard punt return -- and OSU had another short field. They made it look easy. Quizz, in the Wild Beaver, handed to Markus Wheaton on the fly sweep, and he glided into the end zone from 28-yards out. And like that, it was 35-14.

An uncomfortable 21-14 advantage by OSU to open the half jumped to a 21 point lead, and in a stretch of five and a half minutes.

Sure tackles replaced missed tackles. Plays on offense were executed crisply and for large chunks of yardage. The defense was in Louisville's face. There was no more "almost" to the Beavers' game.

It was "almost" for much of the first half. The Beavs almost got to the quarterback. The Beavs almost made the tackle before first down. The Beavs almost made that final block that would spring a big gain.

Instead, OSU needed two huge plays by the D early and both came inside their own five yard line. First, the Beavs forced Louisville to turn it over on downs when Stephen Paea and Taylor Henry stopped Louisville on the 2-yard line. Shortly thereafter, a Cardinals touchdown was taken off the board when Suaesi Tuimaunei knocked the ball out of the Louisville quarterback's grasp and through the end zone – just a half yard before he would have scored.

Two Quizz touchdowns in the first half paced the Beavs to a 21-14 halftime lead but OSU played several notches below what they were capable of – Louisville trailed on the scoreboard but led almost all of the statistical categories. And OSU just looked, and played, out of sorts for most of the first 30 minutes.

But then the Beavs cranked it up to open the second half. With the sudden three touchdown lead, it looked like it could even turn into a blowout.

Alas, the Beavs then reverted to their first half form. The Beavs didn't score again, while Louisville marched to paydirt twice on the Beavs, trimming the lead to 35-28 with plenty of time remaining.

The last test came on Louisville's final drive. The Cardinals were on their way, but James Dockery sealed the win with the pick at OSU's 23-yard line.

Louisville outgained Oregon State in total yards 453-319 on the day, and led 33:32 to 26:38 in time of possession.

A win is a win. But OSU has work to do. Lots of work to do. No. 3 Boise State is up next, and it's at their place. Which Beaver team will show up? The one who played that opening stretch of the second half, or those other guys…

NOTABLE NOTES:
Attendance for the game was 45,379. The attendance figure is the largest ever at Reser Stadium for a non-conference game. It is the fourth-largest mark at an OSU home game (trailing 11/29/08 vs. Oregon, 11/15/08 vs. California and 11/10/07 against Washington).

Head coach Mike Riley improved his all-time record to 65-48. The 65 wins is nine shy of tying Lon Stiner's school record 74.

James Dockery's fourth-quarter interception was his first of the season and third of his career. Dwight Roberson set a personal single-game high with 16 tackles.

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