Late drive gives QB-led Eagles big win in Corvallis
CORVALLIS -- So much for that 7-0 start to Oregon State's football season.
Eastern Washington busted up the Beavers' 2013 opener just as Sacramento State had two years earlier, Vernon Adams' 2-yard touchdown run with 18 seconds remaining providing the winning points in a 49-46 victory Saturday at Reser Stadium.
The Eagles, ranked fourth in the FCS ranks after reaching the national semifinals a year ago, were too much for Oregon State's defense, running up 31 first downs and a staggering 625 yards total offense.
The visitors were forced to punt only once -- and that came in the third quarter when Adams was briefly sidelined with cramps.
Many had looked at Oregon State's early schedule and projected victory over the first seven opponents. That's not going to happen now.
It was a butt-whipping rarely seen by an FCS offense against an FBS defense, leaving the 25th-ranked Beavers searching for adjectives to describe their feelings afterward.
"It would have to be shock, for them to come into our house and do that to us," OSU linebacker Michael Doctor said.
"Those guys played probably their best game, and we didn't," Beaver tailback Storm Woods added. "It was as simple as that."
While directing Eastern Washington's no-huddle, spread offense, Adams was the second coming of Michael Vick, only a more accurate passer. The 6-foot, 190-pound sophomore from Pasadena, Calif. -- a Freshman All-American last year while dividing time with senior Kyle Padron -- rolled up 518 yards in total offense, more than any opponent has amassed against Oregon State in its 120-year football history.
Adams completed 23 of 30 passes for 411 yards and four touchdowns, ran for 107 yards and two scores and slipped through OSU defenders as if he were a ghost.
"He made some unbelievable escape plays, bought time and executed so well," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "His quickness was outstanding. He froze our guys and eluded them, sometimes two or three at a time. He's a really good player. He kept things alive, made some throws on the run, and they made some great catches for him."
It was a shootout on the gridiron, the teams combining for 95 points, 61 first downs, 1,152 yards total offense and 870 yards passing. It wasn't over until Trevor Romaine's 52-yard field-goal attempt that had the distance missed wide right at the final buzzer sounded, sending the Eagles into a frenzy as they celebrated a victory over the Beavers.
Two years ago, Washington escaped with a 30-27 win over Eastern Washington. Last season, it was Washington State skating with a 24-20 victory. This time, the Eagles sealed the deal by finding the end zone on Adams' bootleg in the closing seconds.
"Huge win," Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin said. "We aren't talking about (beating) an average team. We are talking about a bowl team and a big-time opponent that's well-coached.
"It took every ounce of every minute in this sucker to get it done."
From his angle, Baldwin thought Romaine's attempt at a game-tying kick was good.
"I was going to be so upset," the sixth-year Eagle coach said. "We would have played overtime and come up with a few more plays."
Neither team's offense could have done much more. Neither team had a turnover. There were only four punts, three by Oregon State's Tim McMullen. Eastern Washington scored on nine of its 10 possessions in the game. The Beavers scored touchdowns on all four of their drives in the second half until the end.
"Can't do any better than that," Riley said. "The way that game was going, it was whoever had the ball last was going to win it."
After Adams' final touchdown, the Beavers nearly gave themselves a chance for overtime. Taking the ball at their 26-yard line with 15 seconds remaining, Sean Mannion first hit Richard Mullaney for 19 yards, then found Brandin Cooks for 21 yards to the Eastern Washington 34 with three seconds left.
That brought on Romaine, whose kick just missed forcing an extra session.
Oregon State's offensive numbers were terrific, including 30 first downs, 527 yards total offense and 422 yards passing.
Mannion, named only Monday as the starting quarterback, had the best statistical game of his career. He connected on his first 12 passes and finished 37 of 43 for 422 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
"There were some good plays, but in the end, the only thing that matters is the final score," the 6-5, 220-pound junior said.
Cooks caught 13 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns and ran twice for 14 yards, Connor Hamlett had eight receptions for 85 yards and a TD. and Woods rushed for 66 yards and a pair of scores and snared eight passes for 44 yards.
Then there was the Oregon State defense, which was dreadful throughout.
"We weren't in great position to make plays," Riley said. "We didn't tackle very well. We didn't take advantage of some opportunities to get them off the field."
The Eagles had 31 plays for eight yards or more -- "we gave up lots of big plays," Riley said -- with Adams often the catalyst. And they often found ways to get out of long-yardage situations for first downs.
"That started (on the Eagles' second series) when we had them third-and-14, we bust a coverage, they kind of throw a prayer and nobody from our team is there," said Riley, referencing a 49-yard reception by Ashton Clark. "It started like that and got worse."
Is Riley concerned about the OSU defense?
"Until we fix it, there's major concern," he said. "Until we get in position, tackle better and make some plays. we have a lot to look at to work to get better."
Eastern Washington's halftime numbers were astonishing -- 376 yards total offense, 268 yards passing, 17 first downs and scores on all six possessions. Adams accounted for 317 of those yards, going 13-for-18 passing for 268 yards and three touchdowns and scrambling for 49 yards on the ground.
Trailing 29-17, Oregon State came out for the third quarter meaning business, moving 79 yards in 10 plays. Mannion hit Cooks for a 7-yard TD pass to cut the Eagles' lead to 29-24 with 9:47 left in the quarter.
The Eagles suffered a temporary blow when Adams had to leave the game with cramps on their first possession of the third quarter. Backup Anthony Vitto was sacked for a 15-yard loss by Doctor, and after a punt and 12-yard return by Rashaad Reynolds, the Beavers took the ball at the visitors' 49-yard line.
From there, it took them five plays to seize the lead. Caleb Smith's terrific 19-yard run-and-catch of a Mannion aerial set up Woods' three-yard TD run. A two-point conversion catch by Tyler Perry gave the Beavers a 32-29 edge with 4:22 left in the third quarter.
Adams returned on Eastern Washington's next series. His 19-yard scramble for a touchdown on third-and-10 pushed the Eagles back ahead 36-32 with 1:29 remaining in the quarter.
Oregon State responded with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Cooks' 14-yard TD catch gave the Beavers a 39-36 lead with 13:46 to play.
Back came the Eagles, who recaptured the lead at 43-39 after Blair Bomber's 47-yard reception for a score with 10:30 left.
Oregon State answered with another TD drive, Terron Ward carrying over from four yards for a 46-43 lead with 4:50 to play. The Beavers gave Eastern Washington's offense too much time to operate, though.
The Eagles moved into the red zone where, on third-and-goal from the four and less than a minute remaining, OSU cornerback Sean Martin was called for pass interference in the end zone, giving the visitors first-and-goal at the 2. Two plays later, Adams skirted left and -- with everyone in the stadium expecting him to run -- Doctor dropped back into pass coverage, allowing the Eagle QB to walk into the end zone untouched.
"I said, 'Coach, let's go with the boot(leg),' " Adams said. "I'm so thankful I scored."
What happened to Oregon State's defense on Saturday?
"I don't know," Woods said. "I don't know at all."
But Oregon State's offense players were careful not to point a finger at their defensive teammates.
"There's none of that," Mannion said. "No one played a perfect game. We have our defense's back. One hundred times out of 100, they would do the same for us.
"Our offense left some plays on the field. We had a couple of three-and-outs in the first half. You always do it as a team."
"There's no blame on this game," said Hamlett, the 6-7, 265-pound junior tight end. "It's on everyone. It's nice to see we put up some big points, but we play as a team, and we didn't get the job done."
"We had our ups and downs last year," Woods said. "Sometimes it would be offense, sometimes defense. I don't think it'll be any different this year. The defense had a tough game today, but I guarantee they'll bounce back because of our leaders and our coaching staff. Coach Riley will demand it."
Two years ago, Sacramento State's 29-28 overtime upset at Reser started the Beavers into a 3-9 season. After Saturday's second loss to an FCS opponent in a 24-month span, this year's Beavers say a tailspin won't happen again.
"I told the guys we can go one of two ways," Reynolds said. "We can take it and learn from it, or we can lay down. We have the team to respond. We didn't play to our potential today, but we have the guys to do it."
Riley said the Beavers will dive into fixing things as they prepare for next Saturday's home test with Hawaii.
"We have some shortcomings we have to get better at," he said. "If we do that, we can still have a good team. (The Eagles) came to the front today and played about flawless football on offense, and we couldn't match it."
Is Riley confident his players will respond?
"We have to prove that," he said. "I can't sit here and pound the table about anything until we win another game. We'll try to do that next week. There's enough here with this group that we'll definitely we better than we were today."
NOTES -- Adams bested the OSU opponents' total offense record of 515 yards set by Washington State's Alex Brink in 2005. Eastern Washington's Kevin Miller, a senior from Portland's Centennial High, was 3 for 3 on field-goal attempts, converting from 33, 23 and 36 yards in the first half. Another Portland-area product, receiver Ashton Clark from Vancouver's Heritage High, had a big day for the Eagles, catching nine passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. As a deference to injuries, Riley chose not to have the Beavers scrimmage during training camp. Were the OSU defenders rusty Saturday? "That's not an excuse," Reynolds said. "We've all played football for a long time. It was sloppy out there today. We have to step that up." Oregon State played without four regulars -- linebacker D.J. Alexander (knee), center Isaac Seumalo (knee), offensive tackle Gavin Andrews (mononucleosis) and punter Keith Kostol (ankle). .. Riley said Seumalo approached him after pregame warmups "and said he didn't feel quite right." Sophomore Josh Mitchell went the route at center in Seumalo's absence. Cooks was shaken up in the closing seconds and had to be helped off the field. Riley said after the game he didn't know of Cooks' condition.
Eastern Washington lists players from Oregon and Vancouver, Wash., including starters Miller, Clark, Steven Forgette (senior guard, Vancouver's Heritage High), Ashton Miller (senior center, Vancouver's Evergreen High) and Brandon Murphy (senior guard, West Albany). Others include sophomore offensive lineman T.J. Boatright (Vancouver's Union High), junior tight end Zach Chapman (Vancouver's Mountain View High), freshman offensive lineman William Lopez (Vancouver's Skyview High), freshman defensive lineman Matthew Sommer (West Salem), sophomore defensive back Miles Weatheroy and sophomore linebacker Jordan Talley (both Jesuit), sophomore tight end Jake Withnell (South Salem), freshman receiver Kendrick Bourne (Milwaukie), freshman offensive lineman Samson Ebukam (David Douglas) and senior tight end Cody Humphrey (Hermiston).
Eastern Washington 6 23 7 13 -- 49
Oregon State 7 10 15 14 -- 46
EW: Kevin Miller 33 FG 10:43
OSU: Connor Hamlett 1 pass from Sean Mannion (Trevor Romaine kick) 6:39
EW: Miller 23 FG 3:01
EW: Ashton Clark 24 pass from Vernon Adams (Miller kick) 14:53
OSU: Romaine 33 FG 10:23
EW: Cooper Kupp 31 pass from Adams (Miller kick) 9:18
OSU: Storm Woods 2 run (Romaine kick) 6:55
EW: Kupp 48 pass from Adams (kick blocked) 5:29
EW: Miller 36 FG :31
OSU: Brandin Cooks 7 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) 9:47
OSU: Woods 3 run (Tyler Perry pass from Mannion) 4:22
EW: Adams 19 run (Miller kick) 1:29
OSU: Cooks 14 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) 13:46
EW: Blair Bomber 47 pass from Adams (Miller kick) 10:30
OSU: Terron Ward 4 run (Romaine kick) 5:27
EW: Adams 2 run (run failed) :18
ATT. -- 41,649