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It's a complete game as Beavers destroy Cal

CORVALLIS — Oregon State took care of business against underdog California Saturday night at Reser Stadium — and how.

The Beavers — ranked 15th by the Associated Press, 16th in the BCS and 17th by USA Today — laid the hammer on the outmanned Bears from the start en route to a 62-14 victory.

Sean Mannion passed for 325 yards and four touchdowns as the Beavers (8-2 overall, 6-2 in Pac-12 action) broke an early 7-7 tie with 42 unanswered points.

“It’s our most productive game of the season in a lot of ways,” OSU coach Mike Riley.

The timing seems right with the Civil War matchup against Oregon at Reser looming next Saturday.

“We’ve been waiting for a game like tonight’s all year, with both sides clicking,” OSU cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said. “It’s a great time for us to have that going into a big game. We just want to keep it going.”

The Beavers amassed a season-high 35 first downs and gained 559 yards total offense, including a season-high 200 yards rushing. OSU’s defense held Cal (3-9, 2-7) to 322 yards total offense — 120 in the second half as the Beavers put the pedal to the metal in their most decisive win since a 66-13 rout of Washington State in 2008.

“When we’re going good, that’s our game,” said Riley, referring to the Beavers’ offensive balance.

“There was a lot of really good football by us tonight,” said OSU cornerback Jordan Poyer, who made five tackles, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble. “That was as complete a game as we’ve played this season.”

“It shows the hard work all week, the great preparation,” said Mannion, the sophomore quarterback who regained his starting job when Cody Vaz was hurt in last Saturday’s 27-23 loss at Stanford. “Everyone was focused and came ready to play.”

After the loss at Stanford with an apparent Rose Bowl berth on the line, there was concern about a letdown by the Beavers against a Cal team that has struggled all season.

“They guys answered the question about how they would respond to the Stanford loss,” Riley said. “Stanford is a good team. We played a hard game and had a disappointing loss and things fell by the way, but (the OSU players) didn’t let the circumstances control what they were going to do tonight. It was a very good win.”

Oregon State didn’t have to settle for field goals Saturday night. The Beavers motored their way to nine touchdowns, jumped to a 35-7 halftime lead and never looked back.

“When all the stuff you need to do adds up and you execute well in the game, this is what can happen,” Mannion said. “We have to be able to do that on a more consistent basis.”

After an interception on Oregon State’s first possession, Mannion settled in and did a number on the Cal defense, completing 24 of 34 passes and directing an offense that was dominant.

“It was great to have him come in and play like that,” said Markus Wheaton, who caught seven passes for 99 yards and a TD. “It was probably a huge confidence boost for him.”

Mannion had lost his starting job to Vaz following the Beavers’ 20-17 loss at Washington on Oct. 27.

“He took advantage of the ‘next time,’ “ Riley said. “It’s one of those things you always talk about and teach — if you’re not playing, be ready for your next opportunity — but it’s easier said than done.

“Sean prepared himself very well. He had a look in his eyes this week. He was in here every day at 8 in the morning watching video.”

Oregon State’s run game was effective with Terron Ward — rushing 14 times for 132 yards and two TDs — leading the way.

“Great job by the O-line,” Ward said. “We’re peaking at the right time.”

It was the Bears’ final game of the season and perhaps the swan song for beleaguered coach Jeff Tedford.

“They had nothing to lose,” Poyer said. “We figured they’d come out with gimmicks, tricks and do everything they can to win.”

There were no real gimmicks or tricks. Cal played hard early but seemed to wilt as the Beavers took control of the game.

“I told the guys to take it to them early,” Poyer said. “You could tell they didn’t want to play once we stepped on their throats.”

Added Wheaton: “If you let them stick around too long, it can get real tough. I’m not saying they’re a bad team, But it was good for us to get on them early to kind of kill them. They ... how do I say ... they eased off the gas a little bit.”

Cal had four turnovers, and Oregon State turned its first three takeaways into touchdowns.

“It’s what you need to do,” Riley said.

Oregon State had a great scoring opportunity on its first play from scrimmage after a Cal punt. After play-action, Mannion went deep to a wide-open Wheaton, who had to wait for the ball but still made the catch for a 48-yard reception to the Bears’ 30.

“We went into the game knowing we’d use that play,” Wheaton said. “We saw on (video the Cal defenders) had their eyes in the backfield a lot.”

Two plays later, though, Mannion’s pass went through the hands of Colby Prince to Cal’s Josh Hill, who made the interception at the Bears’ 23.

On Cal’s next possession, Poyer got the ball back on an interception at the Bears’ 44. Four plays later, Mannion found Wheaton over the middle for 11 yards, a TD and a 7-0 lead with 9:10 left in the first quarter.

Cal responded immediately, going 82 yards in nine plays, mostly on the ground and aided by a 15-yard taunting penalty by OSU’s Scott Crichton. Isi Sofele covered the last nine yards for a score to tie the game at 7-7 with 6:30 to go in the quarter.

The Beavers came right back, moving 68 yards in just five plays. Woods’ 38-yard run took them to the Cal 19. Two plays later, Tyler Anderson dived in from the 1 and Oregon State was back on top 14-7 with 4:34 remaining in the period.

After John Braun’s fumble recovery gave Oregon State the ball at the OSU 39, the Beavers the increased the margin to 21-7. The score came on Mannion’s wounded-duck 48-yard TD pass to Brandin Cooks, who came back for the ball and crossed field to race past three Cal defenders with 10:56 left in the second quarter.

Just as Cooks was scoring, Stanford was closing out its 17-14 upset victory over No. 1-ranked Oregon at Autzen Stadium. A tumultuous roar went up at Reser — partially for Cooks’ terrific run, but mostly for the loss by the arch-rival Ducks.

“The crowd was going crazy,” Riley said. “I was near the bench talking to someone and I said, ‘Am I missing something on the field?’ Then they told me they flashed the Duck score up on the scoreboard.”

Oregon State scored twice more to go into intermission ahead 35-7. When the Beavers took the second-half kickoff and marched to paydirt, it was time to haul out the gas pipe for the Bears.

In the post-game media session, talk turned to next Saturday’s showdown with the Ducks, who have beaten the Beavers four straight times.

“Throughout the year, you always think about that game,” Poyer said. “You see them play on TV and it’s like, ‘We can play with these guys.’ They’re good, but they’re another football team. They lace on their shoes just like we do.

“It’s not like they’re impossible to stop. We think we have a chance to beat them, especially with Stanford beating them tonight. We’re going to look at the (video) and see exactly what (the Ducks) did and find out where they are vulnerable.”

Riley smiled when told of the comments by Poyer and a couple of his teammates.

“We need all the good play we can muster against the Ducks,” the OSU coach said. “I’m glad we won tonight. There wouldn’t be a much worse scenario than to go into the Civil War with two straight losses. Now we don’t have to talk about that.

“It’s very easy to respect everything the Ducks have done and the way they have played. But I’m very glad to know the players are confident. That will be a great way to start the week.”

NOTES — It was Riley’s 80th victory as coach at Oregon State. Riley is 80-65 in his dozens seasons — 72-51 since returning for his second stint in 2003. ... The third quarter was played in a torrential downpour. There were more empty seats than spectators by midway through the quarter. ... Mannion matched a school record for TD passes in a half. ... OSU lost two players to injury in the second quarter — Cooks, who was shaken up after a reception on a helmet-to-helmet hit, and Anderson, who suffered an apparent knee injury. ... Cooks passed the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yardage and moved into sixth place on OSU’s single-season list with 1,048 yards this season. ... Wheaton has 204 career receptions, 18 behind school record-holder Mike Hass.

Oregon State has won 11 of its last 14 meetings with California. ... Brennan Scarlett, Cal’s 6-4, 255-pound sophomore outside linebacker from Central Catholic, came into the game with 40 tackles, including six tackles-for-loss and 2 1/2 sacks. Scarlett did not have a tackle against the Beavers. ... Jacob Wark, a 6-4, 255-pound sophomore tight end from Jesuit High, came into the game with six catches for 55 yards in a reserve role for the Bears. Wark caught one pass for nine yards Saturday night. ... Maximo Espita, Cal’s 6-2, 220-pound tight end from South Salem High who backed out of a verbal commitment to Oregon State to sign with the Bears, is playing as a true freshman, mostly on special teams. ... Joey Mahalic, the former Wilson High quarterback and baseball player, signals in plays from the sidelines for the Bears. Mahalic, who played pro baseball for three years, is a freshman in eligibility.

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SCORE BY QUARTERS

California 7 0 7 0 — 14

Oregon State 14 21 14 13 — 62

FIRST QUARTER

OSU — Markus Wheaton 11 pass from Sean Mannion (Trevor Romaine kick) 9:10.

CAL — Isi Tofele 9 run (Vincenzo D’Amato kick) 6:30.

OSU — Tyler Anderson 1 run (Romaine kick) 4:34.

SECOND QUARTER

OSU — Brandin Cooks 48 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) 10:56.

OSU — Connor Hamlett 14 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) 7:13.

OSU — Micah Hatfield 6 pass from Mannion (Romaine kick) :15.

THIRD QUARTER

OSU — Storm Woods 1 run (Romaine kick) 11:28.

OSU — Terron Ward 47 run (Romaine kick) 4:58.

CAL — Allan Bridgford 1 run (D’Amato kick) :58.

FOURTH QUARTER

OSU — Ward 17 run (kick failed) 12:50.

OSU — Malcolm Agnew 8 pass from Richie Harrington (Romaine kick) 2:49.

ATT: 43,779