Disruptive Beavers sack Cal
BERKELEY, California — Oregon State's 21-17 victory over California was secure Saturday afternoon on the final play, when linebacker Hamilcar Rashed wrapped up quarterback Spencer Brasch and sent him to the turf for a 10-yard loss at the Bears' 11-yard line.
It was a fitting end to a long day for the Cal offense, and quarterbacks Devon Modster and Brasch in particular. Oregon State's defense — playing angry for 60 minutes — sacked them nine times and accounted for 14 tackles-for-loss. Both are school records since 2001, before which marks are not available.
"We're supposed to be disruptive in the backfield," said Rashed, who had three sacks and four tackles-for-loss. "We did what the coaches taught us to do. We played lights-out defense today, but we know we have room left for improvement."
Oregon State (3-4 overall, 2-2 in Pac-12 play) got just enough done offensively to get past Cal (4-3, 1-3) and post its second straight conference road victory.
"You guys deserved this one," OSU coach Jonathan Smith told his players as they whooped it up in a mini-Mardis Gras scene outside the visitors' locker room.
The Beavers did, but they had to come from behind after the Bears rallied from a 14-0 deficit to go ahead 17-14 late in the third quarter. OSU took the ball with 9:33 left and marched 80 yards in 12 plays. Third-string running back B.J. Baylor covered the final 13 yards on the ground, diving to make the end zone with 4:41 remaining.
Before the game-winning drive, senior quarterback Jake Luton gathered his offensive teammates in a huddle and delivered a message.
"It was just, 'Do your job,'" Luton said. "Everybody likes to get emotional, get yelling and whooping and hollering. That's not going to win you games.
"You have to be able to take a deep breath and focus on what your job is. You go out and execute and do what you're supposed to do."
Offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren mixed it up on the drive, calling seven runs and five passes. Oregon State had difficulty with its ground game until late. Forty-nine of the 80 yards in that drive came via the run, including a 20-yard burst by Artavis Pierce that took OSU to the Cal 20.
Said Smith: "Coach Lindgren called some good plays, mixed in runs in the sets we were in, and we found some rhythm."
Cal, already without injured starting quarterback Chase Garbers, lost back-up Modster early in the fourth quarter to an apparent concussion. That brought on third-stringer Brasch, a 6-4, 180-pound true freshman who had yet to take a snap in his college career. Brasch's third attempt was intercepted by OSU nickel back Jaydon Grant. The Bears got the ball back on their own 8 with 57 seconds on the clock and no timeouts remaining. A miracle wasn't about to happen.
"It was a battle," Luton said. "That's the kind of game you want to be a part of — have it come down to the wire, and you have to make a play when you need it most. We did that."
The contest couldn't have been closer statistically. Total offense figures: Oregon State 282 yards, California 282 yards. Rushing offense: Oregon State 108, Cal 107. Pass offense: OSU 174, Cal 175.
"We thought it would be a four-quarter game," Smith said. "It played out exactly that way. Our guys started fast, and the defense helped us to do that. There were swings of momentum, and for our defense to finish that way was huge.
"That's a good team over there. They've won a bunch of close games, and they're really good on defense. I'm very pleased to come out on top today."
Luton threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first half and finished 18 for 34, but for only 174 yards. He was sacked five times and hurried many more by a Cal defense led by two of the Pac-12's best linebackers, senior Evan Weaver and junior Kuony Deng. Weaver finished with 21 tackles and two sacks, and Deng had 11 tackles and a tackle-for-loss.
"We knew they're a good defense," Luton said. "They were going to get pressure; they were going to cover well. That's what they've done all year. They got pressure on me a couple of times, but you just have to keep plugging away."
Pierce finished with 80 tough yards on 23 carries and caught four passes for 34 yards, including one for seven yards and Oregon State's first touchdown. Forty-four of his yards on the ground came in the fourth quarter.
"(The Bears) have a good defense," Pierce said. "But you just keep chipping away, and the big plays will come. They came at the end of the game."
For Oregon State, it was a reversal from last week's 52-7 pounding by Utah in Corvallis.
"We got hit in the mouth last week," Luton said. "We had to take a look in the mirror. We worked hard all week long. We took it personal in that sense, but it was just good against a really good team, a really good defense, to come out with a close victory."
"We got the taste of that loss out of out mouths," said junior defensive tackle Jordan Whittley, who made three tackles and was in the Cal backfield often. "Coach Smith said, 'Start fast and finish,' and we did exactly that. It was all in our preparation throughout the week — be physical, be aggressive. We tied in a lot of stuff from the Utah loss, and we stayed to our details. We knew what we had to do, and we did it."
Modster was 12 for 27 passing for 151 yards and a touchdown and ran for 109 yards. That's not counting the 33 yards lost on seven sacks. He took a pounding, and Cal running backs Christopher Brown and Marcel Yancy combined for only 50 yards on 22 carries.
"Our run defense was really good," said redshirt freshman Riley Sharp, who recorded his first three career sacks. "In some situations, they were forced to pass. We had some calls that allowed multiple blitzers coming off the edge. The schemes helped us get to the quarterback."
Oregon State's scoring drives covered 62 yards in 12 plays, 78 yards in 13 plays and 80 yards in a dozen plays. The Beavers' other 11 possessions ended in punts.
"We knew it was going to go back and forth," Smith said. "They have some (defensive) players over there. They had the opportunity to make some plays. We went dry in the third quarter, but it wasn't out of reach. I felt confident our guys would respond, and they did.
"I like that we responded from the previous game and that we played well defensively. We'll take them however we can get 'em."
NOTES — At 2-2, OSU is in his sole possession of second place in the Pac-12 North Division. ... Oregon State has a bye before a visit to Arizona on Nov. 2. ... It's the first time OSU has won consecutive Pac-12 road games since 2013. ... The Beavers are 8-5 in their last 13 meetings with Cal. ... Oregon State has 60 tackles-for-loss, already surpassing its total for last season (53). ... Rashed ran his Pac-12-leading numbers to nine sacks and 14 1/2 sacks. ... Rashed, on avenging the Bears' 49-7 win at Corvallis last year: "It was motivation. They came to our house last year and got the win. They had a good offense at that time. It felt good to have a win at their house this time." ... Linebacker Avery Roberts led OSU with 13 tackles, eight of them solo. ... Smith got a bench penalty in the third quarter for arguing a dubious pass-interference against OSU safety Jalen Moore. The double 15-yarders gave the Bears first down on the OSU 1, and they scored their first TD on the next play. OSU sources said secondary coach Blue Adams was the one protesting. "I was the one to get the call," Smith said. "The way it was going, offense, defense — I figured it was my turn to get a penalty. We were getting them on both sides." Oregon State finished with 13 penalties for 102 yards. Cal drew two flags for 17 yards.
Oregon State used true freshman Everett Hayes for place-kicks. He was 3 for 3 on PATs and did not attempt a field goal. Senior Jordan Choukair kicked off. ... OSU linebacker Shermar Smith (ankle) left the game in the second quarter and did not return. Jonathan Smith said he did not believe the injury is serious. ... Oregon State went into the game without guard Gus Lavaka (ankle), running back Jermar Jefferson (foot), center Nate Eldridge (knee) and linebacker Matt Tago (knee). ... In his second career start, sophomore Odesimus Clarke went the entire way at left guard in Lavaka's absence. Clarke said he got advice from Lavaka — who was in uniform but didn't play — through the game. "Gus is like the older brother for me," Clarke said. "I always got to ask for his opinion. He has so much knowledge of the game. It's important to listen to the older guys because they have all the experience. It helped a lot." Clarke said he also leaned on senior left tackle Blake Brandel, who made his 43rd consecutive start. "Blake is a natural leader," Clarke said. "I felt comfortable next to him. Every time I worked with Blake, I knew he'd have my (back) and I'd have his."
The 6-5, 240-pound Sharp committed to Oregon State coach Gary Andersen in 2015 out of high school in Salt Lake City, then served a two-year church mission. "About a year into my mission, the coaching change happened," said Sharp, who turns 22 next month. "I was worried for a little bit, but the coaching staff reached out and said, 'Don't worry; we want you.' The first time I ever talked to Coach Smith, we Facetimed. He said they were really excited for me to come." Smith on Sharp: "He's a guy who works and gets better. He has improved his game since week one to where he's at now, and we've needed it. We've been banged up at that position. He has stepped up." ... Fifteen OSU players hail from the Bay Area and Northern California, including Isaiah and Isaac Hodgins (Oakley), Daniel Rodriguez (Pleasanton), Isaiah Dunn (Antioch), Jordan Whittley (Richmond) and Nahshon Wright (Palo Alto). "Cal passed up on me when I was a juco (at Laney College in Oakland)," Whittley said. "Plus, I'm from this area, so this game was very personal. I took it personal before the game. Cut off my phone. Didn't talk to anybody. Played my heart out, and it showed."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Oregon State 7 7 0 7 — 21
California 0 3 14 0 — 17
OSU — Artavis Pierce 7 pass from Jake Luton (Everett Hayes kick) :35
OSU — Isaiah Hodgins 4 pass from Luton (Hayes kick) 4:33
CAL — Greg Thomas 44 FG :26
CAL — Christopher Brown 1 run (Thomas kick) 5:41
CAL — Jordan Duncan 33 pass from Devon Modster (Thomas kick) :32
OSU — B.J. Baylor 13 run (Hayes kick) 4:41
Att. — 42,046
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