Beavers sputter in opener, as WSU wins 38-28
A team playing a true freshman quarterback making his first career start and a backup replacing one of the Pac-12's best running backs dealt Oregon State a disappointing loss Saturday in the season-opening game at a fan-less Reser Stadium in Corvallis.
Freshman QB Jayden de Laura threw for two touchdowns and ran for one, and Deon McIntosh tallied 147 yards rushing with a touchdown as Washington State beat the Beavers 38-28.
It was the Cougars' seventh consecutive win against Oregon State, and the first for new coach Nick Rolovich. The Beavers had higher hopes after last year's five wins and with QB Tristan Gebbia and running back Jermar Jefferson and an improving defense leading the way.
But, the Beavers fizzled in their opener, and now take to the road to play at Washington, 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14.
"I appreciate the guys' fight," coach Jonathan Smith said. "It's disappointing to get outplayed and lose games. ... They just played better than us, and we dug a hole we couldn't get out of."
The Gebbia-led offense managed minus-three net yards on nine plays on its first three possessions, and sputtered for much of the game (including consecutive punts to start the third quarter as WSU went up 28-7). The offense showed some potential with three second-half touchdowns as Gebbia performed better and Jefferson reached the end zone three times.
"It took us awhile to get any kind of rhythm, offensively," Smith said.
Jefferson's three scores gave him 11 in three career games against WSU, and two of them helped Oregon State rally in the fourth quarter. He scampered in from 15 yards out and Gebbia's two-point conversion pass to Trevon Bradford made it 31-28 with 2:39 left — allowing the Beavers to try an onside kick, which Washington State recovered.
And, receiver Travell Harris sealed it with a 44-yard touchdown run on WSU's first play from scrimmage, making it 38-28. Harris also had two TD receptions.
"We felt good about our chances to get the ball back (with onside kick with 2:39 left)," Smith said. "The way they were moving the ball, we wanted to use our chances to get the ball back.
"We sold out on the run on the first (play) and missed a gap" on the Harris TD run.
The Beavers had a bad game on defense, and missed many tackles.
With McIntosh leading the way (147 yards, 18 carries, TD), the Cougars rushed for 229 yards (7.6 yards/carry), even with star back Max Borghi sitting out the game injured. What a switch for the Cougars, whose "Air Raid" offense with Mike Leach only strategically used the run game.
It was quite a college debut for de Laura, from Honolulu's St. Louis High, alma mater of several quality college QBs over the years, including Oregon's Marcus Mariota. He went 18 of 33 for 227 yards and two scores and only one interception (by Jaydon Grant in the end zone). The Beavers sacked him only once, and it was by Kitan Oladapo (and not Hamilcar Rashed Jr.). De Laura connected with Harris on scores of 29 and 28 yards, and he also scored on a 5-yard TD run.
"We didn't affect the quarterback tonight," Smith said.
"He's mobile, trusts his receivers, and he's been in the same offense since high school," Grant said of de Laura. "I thought he picked us apart in the secondary."
Gebbia started slowly but got things cranked up in the second half, going 24 of 32 for 241 yards to finish with a line of 34 of 48 for 329 yards and one score. Smith said he played better in "desperation mode."
Said Gebbia: "As an offense, it starts with me, and we just can't come out and start slow like that. We gotta start faster, that's all there is to it. ... We have a lot of talent on the offensive side, and good coaching, and we just have to execute better."
Jefferson had 120 yards and his three scores on 21 carries.
De Laura's first TD pass to Harris put WSU up 7-0 in the first quarter. Gebbia connected with Bradford on a second-quarter TD pass play, but McIntosh's 3-yard TD run gave WSU a 14-7 halftime lead.
As OSU punted twice to start the third quarter, De Laura's TD run and his second TD pass to Harris made it 28-7.
Jefferson scored on a short run late in the third quarter.
Blake Mazza's 34-yard field goal put WSU up 31-14 before Jefferson scored on consecutive possessions to help make it close.
An onside kick attempt failed, Harris scampered for the touchdown, and it was over.
To cap the night, OSU's Everett Hayes missed a 47-yard field goal attempt in the last minute of the game.
WASHINGON STATE 7 7 14 10 — 38
OREGON STATE 0 7 7 14 — 28
WSU — Travell Harris 29 pass from Jayden de Laura (Blake Mazza kick), 3:50
OSU — Trevon Bradford 7 pass from Tristan Gebbia (Everett Hayes kick), 4:10
WSU — Deon McIntosh 3 run (Mazza kick), :37
WSU — de Laura 5 run (Mazza kick), 12:10
WSU — Harris 28 pass from de Laura (Mazza kick), 8:20
OSU — Jermar Jefferson 1 run (Hayes kick), 3:27
WSU — Mazza 34 FG, 11:59
OSU — Jefferson 7 run (Gebbia pass failed), 8:32
OSU — Jefferson 15 run (Trevon Bradford pass from Gebbia), 2:39
WSU — Harris 44 run (Mazza kick), 2:29
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