CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State tamed Washington State’s offense and sent the Cougars home with a deflating loss.
OSU bottled up the Cougars’ Air Raid and came away with a streak-snapping victory.
WSU faltered against a Beavers defense that blanketed the Cougars’ receivers and consistently harassed their quarterback. OSU outmuscled the visitors, leading from wire to wire during its first win over WSU in nine tries.
The Beavers handled the Cougars, prevailing 24-10 on Saturday at Reser Stadium. OSU fans stormed the field to celebrate their first win over WSU since 2013.
WSU (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) absorbed a tough blow at a crucial point of the season. The Cougars are entering their bye week coming off an uninspiring loss in which they produced a season-low scoring total.
“In the locker room, they should be disappointed in this result,” WSU coach Jake Dickert said. “They out-executed us and got the win. It’s disappointing heading into the bye week, instead of … having some momentum.
“I think our team will respond, but it doesn’t get easier.”
The Cougs looked like a team in desperate need of a break.
They punted twice, committed a giveaway and turned the ball over on downs three times in the second half. WSU marched down the field early in the third quarter, scoring on a 9-yard toss to running back Jaylen Jenkins to cut the lead to 17-10. But WSU went stagnant on offense for the rest of the game as the Beavers pestered quarterback Cameron Ward.
OSU (5-2, 2-2) totaled six sacks – four in the second half. Ward was often scrambling for his life. He completed 25 of 54 passes for 345 yards with one TD and one interception.
“Any time you get yourself in a position where you have to throw the ball, it’s going to be challenging,” Dickert said. “To not play ahead of the score or ahead of the chains, and the defensive line of Oregon State had some opportunities to tee off on us.
“There were too many times where we were just getting pressured and Cam is not able to get through his progressions.”
The Cougars netted 23 yards on 20 carries. Slotback Robert Ferrel registered 131 yards on five catches, but WSU’s pass-catchers were otherwise held in check by a lengthy and experienced OSU secondary.
Jenkins’ TD, set up by two big gains to Ferrel, was one of the Cougars’ only signs of life in the second half. On the ensuing possession, OSU running back Damien Martinez broke off a 50-yard carry to set up a short TD run from Jack Colletto. The Cougars advanced into OSU territory on their next possession, early in the fourth quarter, but outside receiver Donovan Ollie bobbled a pass – one of five drops by Cougars receivers, a few of them costly – which was intercepted by Beavers defensive back Ryan Cooper Jr.
The Cougars couldn’t kick-start their offense after that turnover. Drives fizzled as Ward struggled with pressure. OSU’s defense controlled the pace of the game and the Beavers cruised to the finish.
“We couldn’t get much going offensively. That’s a credit to what they were doing and how physical they were,” Dickert said, “You give up 200 rushing yards, you’re not going to win many games.”
Beavers rushers churned through tackles and wore down WSU’s defense. OSU logged 203 net yards on 47 carries. Freshman quarterback Ben Gulbranson, making his second career start, threw just eight passes in the second half. He finished 12 of 24 for 141 yards with a TD and one interception.
“We didn’t stop the run, so why would they have passed the ball?” WSU edge rusher Ron Stone Jr. said.
After going into halftime protecting a seven-point advantage, OSU opened up a 17-3 lead early in the third quarter with a methodical possession. Gulbranson slid left and fired a risky pass into double coverage in the end zone. Beavers receiver Anthony Gould went up for a stunning 17-yard touchdown catch between two defenders.
For both offenses, the first half was messy. WSU netted just 1 yard on two first-quarter possessions. The Beavers mustered 14 total yards in the second quarter.
OSU opened the game with a 60-yard kick return and capitalized on field positioning, punching in a short touchdown with utility man Colletto to cap the drive. The Cougars’ defense responded on the Beavers’ second drive.
WSU registered its first takeaway in three weeks. Edge rusher Andrew Edson popped Gulbranson in the backfield as he threw and caused the pass to float in the air. Cougars free safety Sam Lockett came up with an easy interception. But WSU came out flat on offense and went three-and-out on its first two drives – the Cougars started on the OSU 41-yard line after the pick, yet didn’t gain a yard.
OSU used misdirection runs and play-action passes to catch the WSU defense off-guard during one of few efficient possessions in the first half. The Beavers went 72 yards on 12 plays late in the first quarter before fizzling in the red zone and settling for a short field goal to take a 10-0 lead.
The Cougars answered, shaking free from their offensive funk – but only for a short stretch. Ward completed passes of 25, 15, 14 and 13 yards before absorbing a drive-killing sack in the red zone. A 29-yard field goal cut OSU’s lead to 10-3 at the 9:20 mark of the second quarter.
Neither team could sustain possessions for the rest of the half. The Cougars and Beavers traded punts across the final six drives of the second quarter.
WSU returns to action Oct. 27 at home against Utah, which upset USC on Saturday.
“There’s a lot of incentive left in this season to be motivated,” WSU safety Jordan Lee said. “Losing is never fun. I don’t think anybody in the locker room feels content. We have a lot to prove. I think we’ll come back swinging, for sure.”
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