Beavers come up short against Stanford
Oregon State won't have a winning record for the seventh consecutive year, and the Beavers lost for the 11th consecutive time against Stanford on Saturday.
But, the Beavers are not the Pac-12 cellar-dwellers of years past. They are competitive, and really close to winning many of their games — and happened to beat Cal and Oregon this year.
Their competitiveness wasn't any more apparent than against the Cardinal, as the Beavers were marching for tying or go-ahead points when QB Chance Nolan fumbled away the ball on a gutsy scramble with 23 seconds left. The Cardinal recovered to seal the 27-24 win at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.
Every game came down to the fourth quarter for the Beavers (2-4). They still have one more game to go next weekend: 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Arizona State at Reser Stadium.
"That's a tough team to beat," said coach Jonathan Smith of the Cardinal (3-2). "Obviously we're disappointed we didn't get it done.
"I appreciate (OSU players). Winning is hard. We're working to win games. We've not won as many as we would have liked. It hurts. I appreciate that these games mean so much to them. It was a somber mood in the locker room."
Stanford rallied from behind, and took the 27-24 lead on Jet Toner's 39-yard field goal with 1:48 left. Remember, Toner had an awful trip to the state of Oregon earlier this season, missing four field goals against the Ducks. (The Stanford-OSU game was originally scheduled to be at Stanford, but government restrictions there forced the game to be moved to Corvallis).
The Beavers had 1:48 to go 65 yards for the tying points or go-ahead points, and had to do it without Jermar Jefferson, who had injured his ankle. Nolan, who showed improvement with three TD passes, led the Beavers down the field. He hit Kolby Taylor for five yards on fourth down. He later ran for 11 yards on third down.
But, the march came to an end when Nolan scrambled up the middle, had the ball poked away by Gabe Reid and Stanford's Thomas Robinson recovered the fumble with 23 seconds left. The call was confirmed on review.
"We had a screen play, but they ran man (coverage)," Nolan said. "I saw the void (in defense) … I tried to get my knee down, but the ball was just jarred (loose).
"I gotta be better with the ball in that situation. Tuck it up and go down and make that play happen."
Nolan went 17 of 30 for 221 yards and three scores, and added 50 yards on eight carries. Two receivers, Trevon Bradford and Champ Flemings, were unavailable for the game. Tre'Shaun Harrison, a transfer from Florida State who recently gained eligibility, had five receptions for 91 yards, including a 61-yard reception, and Tyjon Lindsey had two TD catches and Zeriah Beason also had a TD reception.
Jefferson, who missed last week's loss to Utah because of COVID-19 protocol, had 80 yards on 18 carries as the Beavers rushed for 237 yards on 39 carries (6.1 yards/carry).
For Stanford, Davis Mills went 21 of 29 for 292 yards and a TD pass, and also ran for two TDs. Austin Jones had 126 yards rushing on 22 carries.
Again, the Beavers came close to winning, just as against Washington State, Washington and Utah, only to lose.
"It sucks to say the least," defensive lineman Isaac Hodgins said. "No matter what the record is or what the score was, we have a job of coming back and getting better."
Said Nolan after his second career start in place of injured Tristan Gebbia: "We know we should have won that game. We've been in too many close games. A play here or there away from beating those guys. A sour taste in our mouth after losing that."
Smith again liked his players' fight, but not the result.
"I thought it was a quality football game," he said. "Credit to Stanford. We battled it out. I thought it was a well-played football game, back and forth, and it came down to the last (23) seconds."
The Beavers led 14-6 in the first half. Lindsey caught an 18-yard TD reception to open the scoring, but the Cardinal countered with a Mills-to-Tucker Fish TD pass play (and failed on a two-point conversion pass).
Harrison caught the 61-yard pass and then Nolan threw eight yards to Beason to make it 14-6 early in the second quarter.
Toner hit a 47-yard field goal to make it 14-9 at halftime. And, the Cardinal struck early in the third quarter, as Mills threw 57 yards to Simi Fehoko and then scored on a 1-yard TD run, as Stanford led 16-14.
Lindsey's 30-yard TD reception put Oregon State back in front, 21-16, but the Cardinal led 24-21 after a drive ended with Mills' 6-yard TD run and his two-point conversion pass to Houston Heimuli.
The Beavers wouldn't go away, although they could've taken the lead. On fourth-and-2 inside the Cardinal 5 and the Beavers going for the first down or touchdown, a delay-of-game penalty pushed the ball back, and they had to settle for Everett Hayes' game-tying, 36-yard field goal with 7:18 left.
The Cardinal used 5:24 of clock time to set up Toner's go-ahead, 39-yard field goal. A key play was one you'll see on highlight shows: John Humphreys fell down on a pass play and the ball popped up in the air, and came down in his hands for a 30-yard reception.
STANFORD 6 3 7 11 — 27
OSU 7 7 7 3 — 24
OSU — Tyjon Lindsey 18 pass from Chase Nolan (Everett Hayes kick), 9:46
STANFORD — Tucker Fisk 12 pass from Davis Mills (Ryan Sanborn pass failed), 5:45
OSU — Zeriah Beason 8 pass from Nolan (Hayes kick), 12:34
STANFORD — Jet Toner 47 FG, 1:16
STANFORD — Mills 1 run (Toner kick), 12:14
OSU — Lindsey 30 pass from Nolan (Hayes kick), 8:38
STANFORD — Mills 6 run (Houston Heimuli pass from Mills), 13:03
OSU — Hayes 26 FG, 7:18
STANFORD — Toner 39 FG, 1:48
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