Another slow start dooms Beavers
CORVALLIS — Second verse, same as the first.
Oregon State spotted Arizona State a 30-point second-quarter lead, and the Sun Devils held on for a 40-24 victory Saturday at Reser Stadium.
It was the second straight week OSU (1-10 overall, 0-8 in Pac-12 action) had fallen flat in the first half, only to outplay the opponent in the second half. A week ago, Arizona jumped to a 28-0 advantage on its way to a 49-28 win at Tucson.
"Kind of the theme, right?" Cory Hall asked rhetorically after his fifth straight loss as interim coach. "Two different halves."
Arizona State (6-5, 5-3) clinched a bowl berth, but it didn't come as easy as it appeared it would at halftime. The Sun Devils scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions and added a safety when OSU quarterback Darell Garretson was flagged for intentional grounding while throwing out of the end zone.
ASU took a 23-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter, a 17-yard TD run by Demario Richard. When Richard walked into the end zone from the 1-yard line with 4:44 left before intermission, the Devils' advantage was 30-0 and an almost inconceivable 302-26 in total offense yardage. By this time, viewers in Beaver Nation were turning off their TVs and heading outside to rake leaves.
They should have stayed tuned.
Finally, the OSU offense sprung into gear. The Beavers moved 79 yards in eight plays, the key play a 36-yard scamper by receiver Trevon Bradford on a reverse. Ryan Nall scored from the 1 to cut the difference to 30-7 with 59 seconds left in the half.
Oregon State had the better of it in the second half. The Beavers compiled more first downs (18-7), mopped up in total offense (270-135) and passing yardage (231-68) and held Arizona State to 67 yards rushing in the second half after piling up 215 yards on the ground before intermission.
"The first half, we had issues stopping the run," Hall said. "Second half, we gave up 10 points and shut down the run. We let some plays get away from us on third down, but we battled back nonetheless."
Oregon State drove 77 yards in 10 plays, scoring on Trevorris Johnson's 1-yard plunge to draw within 40-17 with 8:58 left. A successful onside kick gave the Beavers the ball back; six plays later, Garretson scored from four yards, and it was 40-24 with 7:27 to play.
That wasn't all. OSU forced a three-and-out and a punt, then moved to the ASU 10. On first-and-goal — with 2 1/2 minutes left and the Beavers still holding three timeouts — Garretson fumbled the snap, the Devils recovered, and they could finally breathe easily with bowl eligibility secured.
Garretson completed 26 of 37 passes for 269 yards — 231 in the second half.
"They were stopping the run in the first half, stacking the box, so we figured we'd try to throw the ball," said tight end Noah Togiai, who had five receptions for 88 yards, including a 37-yarder. "We didn't change much. We just came together as a group."
Penalties — eight for 67 yards — hurt the Beavers, but not as much as the horrible start to the game.
"We weren't playing as a whole the first half," said Nall, who carried only 12 times for 42 yards. "Guys weren't doing their job on both sides of the ball. When (the score) gets like that, it's tough to come back.
"Second half, we were on a pretty good run, but we didn't execute when we had to. That's been the story all year. As soon as we can execute and get guys in the right spots, we'll be pretty tough to beat."
Only one more chance for that to occur — in next Saturday's Civil War game at Autzen Stadium.
"We have the battle for the state," Hall said. "We're going to have to put together two halves. It needs to be a complete performance on both sides of the ball."
Why didn't that happen against Arizona?
"The game plan was what it needed to be, but there needed to be some minor tweaks," Hall said. "That's what happened at halftime. Those adjustments need to be made quicker. I'm going to focus on that detail this week as we get ready for Oregon."
One more chance for the Beaver players to taste victory. The final game for the OSU seniors.
"They want it so bad," Hall said.
NOTES — A week after yielding 534 rushing yards to Arizona, Oregon State's defense gave up 286 on the ground to Arizona State. Richard carried 17 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns and Kalen Ballage gained 103 yards on 19 attempts. … OSU cornerback Jay Irvine (dislocated shoulder) and running back Calvin Tyler (dislocated elbow) left the game and did not return. Beaver linebacker Manase Hungalu (ribs) also was unable to finish the game. … Nall has 2,175 career rushing yards, moving past Bill "Earthquake" Enyart into eighth place on the OSU list. Nall needs 59 yards to pass Pete Pifer (2,233) and get to seventh. … Arizona State's starting center, 6-2, 310-pound A.J. McCollum, is from Aloha High. He is no relation to the Blazers' CJ McCollum.
ARIZONA STATE 16 14 3 7 — 40
OREGON STATE 0 7 3 14 — 24
ASU — Kyle Williams 23 pass from Manny Wilkins (Brandon Ruiz kick), 13:44
ASU — Curtis Hodges 1 pass from Wilkins (Ruiz kick), 9:06
ASU — Safety, intentional grounding from end zone, 1:18
ASU — Demario Richard 17 run (Ruiz kick), 14:54
ASU — Richard 1 run (Ruiz kick), 4:44
OSU — Ryan Nall 1 run (Jordan Choukair kick), :59
ASU — Ruiz 45 FG, 5:58
OSU — Choukair 33 FG, 1:33
ASU — Richard 3 run (Ruiz kick), 13:36
OSU — Trevorris Johnson 1 run (Choukair kick), 8:58
OSU — Darell Garretson 4 run (Choukair kick), 7:27
Att. — 36,063