CORVALLIS – The Cougars braved a few uneasy moments from the Oregon State Beavers and their highly-touted rookie running back Saturday night. Albeit, the hosts would’ve needed a lot more than the four touchdowns and 139 rushing yards Jermar Jefferson provided to truly make Washington State anxious in a late-night Pac-12 North battle at Reser Stadium.
And it was actually a rare freshman mistake from Jefferson that finally put the Cougars at ease in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. When OSU’s running back fumbled on WSU’s 4-yard line, the ball squirted into the end zone and Jalen Thompson recovered to give Gardner Minshew and the Cougar offense possession with 12:16 to play.
The fifth touchdown of the game for WSU’s graduate transfer quarterback, a 27-yarder to Tay Martin, came shortly thereafter and effectively sealed up a 56-37 win for the Cougars in front of 34,429 fans in Corvallis.
A bye week is on deck for both the Cougars and Beavers. WSU (5-1, 2-1) will host Oregon on Oct. 20 at Martin Stadium while OSU (1-5, 0-3) will welcome Cal to Reser Stadium the same day. A win over the Ducks in two weeks would clinch WSU’s fourth consecutive postseason berth – a program-first.
Minshew, a fifth-year senior who came to the Cougars from East Carolina, surpassed the 2,000-yard mark on the season and threw for five touchdowns for the first time in his career. He finished with 430 passing yards, completing 30 of 40 passes.
After a rough two-week stretch, sophomore outside receiver Tay Martin turned in two touchdowns and finished with 119 yards on eight catches.
Minshew operated a quick-strike offense on the game’s first drive, hooking up with James Williams for 41 yards, then went to Easop Winston Jr. for 28 and hit Renard Bell in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0.
It quickly became 14-0 when Kainoa Wilson blocked Luke Loecher’s punt on the next possession, allowing Tristan Brock to recover the loose ball in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown – the first punt block TD for WSU since 2003.
But then Jefferson and the Beavers woke up, making it 14-7 on a 6-yard scoring run from the Los Angeles native and after Jalen Thompson mishandled an OSU pooch punt, the hosts recovered the ball on the 7-yard line and Jefferson scampered in for another short TD to tie it at 14-14.
The Beavers and Cougars toggled back and forth with the lead throughout the second and third quarter, but Jefferson’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game – a 1-yarder in the third – was the last sign of offensive life for the home team.
Cougars freshman running back Max Borghi ran in for a 1-yard WSU touchdown with 6:37 to go in the third period to make it 35-30 for Washington State and the visitors scored 28 of the game’s final 35 points to secure their first win over a Pac-12 North opponent this season. – Theo Lawson
Pac-12 Networks / YouTube
13:44 – WSU 7, OSU 0: Well, that was quick. Washington State strikes in just over a minute, going 75 yards in three plays to take the early lead. Gardner Minshew hit a wide-open Renard Bell in the back of the end zone to finish the drive. Minshew accounted for all 75 yards on that drive, connecting on all three of his passes. The first play from scrimmage was a swing pass to running back James Williams, who benefited from some shoddy OSU tackling to scoot 41 yards to jump start the drive.
12:32 – WSU 14, OSU 0: The Washington State special teams makes a special play and the Cougars are now up 14 inside of the first three minutes in Corvallis. After forcing the Beavers into a three-and-out, WSU’s Kainoa Wilson blocked Luke Loecher’s punt at the OSU 5-yard line and Tristan Brock fell on the ball in the end zone for the Cougs.
6:16 – WSU 14, OSU 7: After finding themselves in a 14-point hole early, the Beavers respond with a 14-play, 75-yard drive, finished by Jermar Jefferson with a 6-yard run. OSU converted two fourth down during the drive. One a fourth-and-10 at the WSU 29.
1:21 – WSU 14, OSU 14: An eventful series of downs for Oregon State finishes with Jefferson running in for his second touchdown of the night and a tie ball game. The Beavers thought they had struck early in the drive when Jefferson ripped off a 75-yard TD run. However the score was called back for holding. Then, on fourth-and-eight at the WSU 47, OSU used a quick kick by QB Conor Blount to try and pin the Cougs deep. WSU safety Jalen Thompson tried to field the punt, muffed it, and the Beavers fell on the ball on the WSU 7. Jefferson found the end zone on the next play.
13:42 – WSU 21, OSU 14: The Cougs take the lead right back as Gardner Minshew hits Tay Martin on a go route down the left sideline. Martin beat corner Kaleb Hayes, who was isolated one-on-one against the sophomore, for the 38-yard touchdown. WSU called two runs on the 7-play, 80-yard drive, with James Williams carrying for 7 and 8 yards. Minshew is up to 133 yards passing in the game.
8:35 – WSU 21, OSU 17: Oregon State settles for a 32-yard field goal by Jordan Choukair after an 11-play drive. The Beavers started the possession with a trick play on the kick return that got them into WSU territory. OSU also converted its third fourth down of the night during the drive as the Beavers appear to be holding nothing in the playbook back as they try and keep up with the high scoring Cougars.
4:47 – OSU 24, WSU 21: Oregon State capitalizes on good field position after a WSU three-and-out to take its first lead of the night. Jermar Jefferson slipped in from 3 yards out for his third touchdown of the night. The Beavers again deviated from the traditional to open the drive, with Travon Bradford taking an end around 56 yards to the WSU 4.
0:34 – WSU 28, OSU 24: Washington State heads into halftime with the lead after finishing a 12-play drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew to James Williams. Minshew completed six passes for 76 yards during the 78-yard drive and is now up to 226 yards and three touchdowns for the game. On the ensuing possesion, OSU was content to run out the remaining half minute of the half.
12:10 – OSU 30, WSU 28: Oregon State takes the opening drive of the second half 43 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. Eight plays after Champ Flemings gave OSU great field position with a 57 yard kick return, Jermar Jefferson plunged into the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the game. Prior to the touchdown, the Cougars lost three reviews of potential red-zone fumbles. One appeared to be a backwards pass broken up by Peyton Pelluer.
6:37 – WSU 35, OSU 30: The Cougars roar back in front with a 11-play touchdown drive. Max Borghi powered in from 1-yard out to finish the drive. The Cougars called seven run plays on the that drive as they ate up 5:26 going 56 yards. QB Gardner Minshew is up to 256 yards passing for WSU.
14:22 – WSU 42, OSU 30: The Cougars march 78-yards down the field and extend the lead on Gardner Minshew’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Travell Harris. Minshew is up to four TD passes in the game. The receiving touchdown was Harris’ first of his career. He ran a kick back for a TD earlier this season. Minshew completed six passes over the nine play drive, throwing for 62 yards. He is up to 318 in the game.
12:16 – WSU 42, OSU 30: Washington State gets the turnover they were looking for. OSU’s Jermar Jefferson, having a great game so far, fumbles inside the WSU 5 and Cougars safety Jalen Thompson falls on it in the end zone for a touchback. WSU will start at the OSU 25 after their first takeaway of the game.
9:06 – WSU 49, OSU 30: Gardner Minshew throws his fifth touchdown of the game as Tay Martin hauls in a 27-yard pass for the score. Martin continues to look dangerous on the left sideline, he is up to 119 yards receiving on 8 catches.
1:11 – WSU 56, OSU 30: That should just about do it. Max Borghi carries it 30 yards for his second touchdown of the game and the Cougars lead by 26 with just over a minute to play.
0:35 – WSU 56, OSU 37: B.J. Baylor plunges in from 4-yards out for the consolation touchdown for the Beavers.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Cougs newsletter
Get the latest Cougs headlines delivered to your inbox as they happen.