The Oregon State Beavers (1-2) hosted the Stanford Cardinal (1-3) at Reser Stadium on Saturday night. After three straight losses, the Cardinal were looking to get back into the win column. The Beavers were coming off of a bye week, so they were hoping some extra rest and preparation would pay dividends in the game. In addition, Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard was in the building to cheer on the Beavs.
After allowing just two sacks in their first three games, the Beavers surrendered four sacks in the first half to the Cardinal. Two of those first half sacks came on the Beaver’s final drive of the half, pushing them out of field goal range and securing a shutout for the Cardinal heading into the break with the score 14-0. The Beavers defense did a nice job defending Stanford’s ground game in the first half of play, allowing just 1.4 yards per rush.
Stanford was without their starting quarterback KJ Costello tonight, but backup Davis Mills did not disappoint. He threw for two touchdowns in the first half, and then extended the Cardinal lead to 21-0 on another touchdown pass early in the third quarter. Down by three scores midway through the third quarter, Oregon State needed a spark. Jake Luton led the Beaver’s offense on an 11 play, 75 yard drive, capped off by a Luton touchdown pass to none other than his go-to guy, Isaiah Hodgins.
Reser Stadium started to come alive after the Beavers forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Stanford possession. Oregon State took control of the ball once again, but this time deep inside their own territory at their own 5 yard line. QB Jake Luton got them out of trouble, finding Isaiah Hodgins on third down at their own 10 yard line. Once the Beavers moved the ball near midfield, RB Artavis Pierce did the rest. Pierce took off for a 43-yard touchdown run, and all of the sudden we had a one possession game in Corvallis.
As quickly as Oregon State has grabbed the momentum, Stanford turned right around and marched down the field on a 6 play, 72-yard drive to regain a two possession lead. The Stanford touchdown was shades of the Philadelphia Eagles “Philly Special” play in Super Bowl 52. TE Colby Parkinson found QB Davis Mills for the 8-yard touchdown pass. That was Mills’ fourth touchdown of the game.
It seemed that Stanford may have taken the air out of the stadium after that touchdown, but the Beavers were not ready to throw in the towel. It only took four plays for the Beavers offense to move the ball inside the Stanford 5 yard line to set up a 1st a goal. RB B.J. Baylor finished off the 6 play drive, with a 1-yard touchdown run.
On the ensuing kickoff, B.J. Baylor almost made the play of the game, nearly stripping the ball away from the Stanford kick returner. The turnover would have set up the Beavers deep in Stanford territory with a chance to tie the game. The play was reviewed and the call stood as called, the runner was down, Stanford ball. With the score 28-21, Oregon State needed to make a stop. The defense stepped up and did just that, forcing a key three-and-out with just over four minutes left to play.
Oregon State received the punt at their own 23-yard line, looking to put together a huge drive to potentially tie the game at 28-28. One 3rd and 1 at the Stanford 37 yard line, Artavis Pierce rattled off an enormous 36-yard run, setting the Beavers up at the Stanford 1 yard line. Pierce carried the ball once again and capped off a beautiful 10 play, 77 yard drive, with a 1-yard touchdown run. The score was now 28-28 with 1:55 left in the game.
Stanford’s Connor Wedington returned the Beavers kickoff 43 yards, all the way to midfield. Stanford did not need to move far in order to set themselves up for a potential game-winning field goal. On the first play of the drive, Davis Mills found Osiris St. Brown for an 18-yard gain and now the Cardinal were in prime position to milk the clock and set up a field goal. From the Oregon State 21 yard line, Stanford kicker Jet Toner set up for a 39-yard field goal and knocked it through.
Only 0:01 remained on the clock after the go-ahead kick. The Beavers attempted a little razzle-dazzle miracle play on the final kickoff, but were unsuccessful. Stanford held on for the 31-28 victory in Corvallis.
NEXT UP: Oregon State will travel to Southern California to take on the UCLA Bruins on October 5th.