JAMES RODGERS scored winning TD
IT LOOKED FOR all the world that Oregon State was headed towards a workmanlike Halloween victory over UCLA. Nothing all that spectacular, just a 16 point lead and takin' care of business. And then came the fourth quarter. Two Bruin touchdowns and two 2-point conversions later, this one was tied. With time running down, Sean Canfield, James Rodgers and Jacquizz Rodgers bowed up and went on a march.
There was 2:06 remaining and the score was knotted at 19-19. OSU so many times has been here the last few years, and succeeded. But a near UCLA pick-six on the first play of the Beavers' final drive offered clear proof of where all the momentum lay.
And yet then OSU calmly marched 70 yards and into the end zone. Take that, 'Ol Mo.
Sean Canfield threw for 55 yards during the winning drive and James Rodgers, courtesy of some nice blocking and execution (by WR Damola Adeniji, tight end Brady Camp, right tackle Mike Remmers and the rest of the OSU o-line), capped it with a 17-yard end around into the end zone.
Sandwiched in between, some prescient grabs -- and runs after the grabs -- from James Rodgers, Jacquizz Rodgers and Joe Halahuni.
But even then, it wasn't over.
UCLA smartly moved the ball down to the OSU 27-yard line with time for one last play. But OSU got some heat in on the quarterback, Keaton Kristick made the last of his 10 tackles on the day and the clock struck zeros.
Prior to the final gun, UCLA made Beaver fans plenty nervous down the stretch. Through three quarters, UCLA had been held to 149 total yards. In the last 15 minutes, UCLA racked up 225. Yes, UCLA, who hadn't scared much of anyone offensively this year.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING, THE Beavers look pretty good on the post-game stat sheet -- Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 114 yards, threw for a score to Brady Camp and nearly (92 yds) hit the century yard mark in receiving. James Rodgers had 10 receptions for 106 yards, and one very important run. Sean Canfield was a smooth 25-for-34 with 305 yards. The Beavs had four sacks on the day.
But on balance, 26 points didn't feel like it was nearly enough for those kinds of numbers. And the 10 penalties were a disappointment. And the fourth quarter was, for a program that prides itself on its defense, black and orange agony.
MAYBE OREGON STATE was a little less sharp -- they were coming off a slobberknocker against USC and facing an opponent in UCLA that many people figured they'd roll rather easily.
Maybe it's that the main bugaboos this season -- an inability on offense to finish off enough drives with touchdowns while defensively, a lack of pressure and some tough passing beats in the secondary -- reared their heads again on Saturday and created for Beaver Nation some anxiety about the final month of the regular season.
Maybe it's a sign of how far the Oregon State program has come -- that even a win, and one where the defense gives up 19 points and the offense makes a gut-check game winning TD drive -- can feel underwhelming.
GIVE CREDIT where credit is due -- to UCLA for making good plays, and to Oregon State for seizing the moment by the throat and driving downfield to claim their homecoming victory.
The big three of Canfield, Quon and Quizz did it again when it counted most, and so too did Justin Kahut, who nailed 4-of-5 field goals against UCLA and has now hit 15-of-19 for the year.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea, double teamed so much of the season, was seemingly everywhere and broke through for three sacks on the day. Fellow DT Brennan Olander, a couple of penalties notwithstanding, had a good day as well -- and that contributed to Paea's afternoon against UCLA. Kristick was back to his old self after an off night against USC.
Maybe, on balance, maybe there's plenty to celebrate after the win and headed into a titanic tilt against Cal, after all.