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  • 21 Nov 2014

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Beavers lose this numbers game

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Oregon receiver Will Murphy pushes Oregon State defender Tyrequek Zimmerman after a catch in Saturday's Civil War at Reser Stadium.CORVALLIS — Numbers can tell the story of a football game, and they did just that Saturday afternoon at Reser Stadium.

To wit: Oregon 430 rushing yards, Oregon State 82.

And even more than that: Oregon State six turnovers, Oregon zero.

Those were the stats that mattered most in the Ducks’ 48-24 annihilation of the Beavers on a day when, from the Orange perspective, it didn’t have to be.

The turnovers, in particular, “are absolutely killers,” OSU coach Mike Riley said. “Had we just taken care of the ball, we could have made an attempt to keep pace. We gave (the Ducks) opportunities to pile up the points when it didn’t have to be like that.”

And man, can the Men of Oregon get the momentum flowing, like the giant ball chase in Indiana Jones. Midway through the third quarter, Oregon State was within 20-17 and sensing the possibility of an upset. Twelve minutes and three takeaways later, the Ducks had raced to a 48-17 advantage and their fifth straight victory in the Civil War series.by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: MEG WILLIAMS - Oregon State's Markus Wheaton loses the handle on a punt, and Oregon recovers.

“It’s one of those things that can get out of hand fast,” Riley said. “They do a good job of always being in the attack mode.

“But it’s still football and playmaking. We missed quite a few tackles where we had great opportunities to finish a drive and get off the field. But they made way more plays than we did, and we flat-out did not take care of the football.”

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Oregon State running back Terron Ward looks for some daylight in the Oregon defense. The Beavers will look back on a couple of opportunities wasted in the second quarter, when the outcome was very much in doubt.

With Oregon State leading 7-6 and Oregon facing fourth-and-7 at the OSU 38, Beaver defensive end Scott Crichton had UO quarterback Marcus Mariota in his grasp in the backfield for a potential sack. Mariota slipped away and found Will Murphy for an 8-yard completion and a first down. The Ducks went on to score and go ahead 13-7.

On Oregon State’s next possession, the Beavers had third-and-2 at the Oregon 34 when Markus Wheaton — with one defender to beat and some open space ahead — dropped a short out pass that would have at least gone for a first down. On fourth down, fullback Clayton York was stopped a foot or two short of first down, and soon the Ducks were on to a 67-yard touchdown march and a 20-7 advantage.

The Beavers rallied and, after an impressive scoring drive to open the third quarter to get to within 20-17, special teams levied a mortal wound.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO; CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon State cornerback, gets an Oregon receiver out of bounds.After Oregon went ahead 27-17, Devon Kell muffed the ensuing kickoff return and the Ducks recovered at the OSU 34. Four plays later, De’Anthony Thomas skirted right end for 29 yards, a TD and a 34-17 Oregon lead.

Later in the quarter, after OSU forced the Ducks to punt deep in their territory, Wheaton failed to make a diving catch and the Ducks recovered at the Oregon 48.

“We gave them a couple,” said Wheaton, who caught seven passes for 98 yards. “Bad plays that shouldn’t have been in there. And they’re such a good team, you can’t win giving them a couple of handouts.

“We mishandled the ball a lot, myself included. You give them one or two, it’s going to get ugly quick.”

It did as the turnover count mounted, with OSU quarterback Sean Mannion serving up three of his four interceptions in the second half. The tally was five turnovers after intermission, a certain recipe for failure.

“That’s usually one of those stats that indicates who wins,” Riley said. “And it did today, for sure.”

“Last week (in a 62-14 rout of California), our defense forced some big turnovers and we were able to get seven (points) each time,” Mannion said. “It was the reverse of that today.”

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: MEG WILLIAMS - A 'duck' hangs in a Beaver fan's tent before Saturday's Civil War game in Corvallis.Mannion completed 31 of 49 passes for 311 yards and a TD, but the four picks loomed on everyone’s mind.

“Their defense is good,” Mannion said. “When you make mistakes, they don’t let you get away with it. Our defense is the same way. If you make a mistake, you pay for it. There were plays I could have done better today and I turned it over.”

The other major issue, of course, was Oregon’s rushing game. Oregon State entered the game ranked second in the Pac-12 and 14th nationally against the run, and the most the Beavers had given up was 190 yards last Saturday against Cal. The Ducks more than doubled that figure, with Kenjon Barner and Thomas combining for 320 yards and five TDs in as explosive a two-man assault as Reser Stadium denizens have witnessed.

“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect them to do,” OSU cornerback Jordan Poyer said. “Their tempo was fast. If you aren’t in the right spot just one time, they’ll find it. That happened a couple of times. And with the turnovers, they built the momentum. With a team like that, you can’t give them second chances.”

“We had a tough time setting the edge on defense,” Riley said. “That’s a key element in defending (the Ducks). They hit the perimeter on us pretty hard, made some plays, and had a very good mix.”

Part of the mix was the fleet Mariota getting loose for 96 rushing yards (minus 11 yards in sacks) to go with 140 yards on 17-for-24 passing.

“He is perfect for their (spread) offense,” Riley said.

Added Poyer: “We thought we’d be able to stop the run and force them to pass.”

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Oregon State fans express their displeasure with an official's call.Didn’t happen, not be a long shot.

“We can’t go out there giving up points like that,” said OSU linebacker Michael Doctor, who had nine tackles, including three tackles-for-loss. “Our objective is always to stop the run and to stop them getting on the board, and we didn’t do that.

“We know we’re better than we showed today.”

OSU seniors such as Poyer and Wheaton leave never having experienced victory over the Ducks.

“It hurts,” Wheaton said. “I wanted this, we wanted this, real bad. But we didn’t get it done, and that’s what it is.”

“I wanted it for our seniors,” Poyer said. “I wanted it as a building step for this program. To have an outcome like this, it’s hard. I’m just glad we have more football to play.”

There is next week’s regular-season finale against woeful Nicholls State, then a bowl game somewhere. Victory in those games would mean a 10-win season and would take away some of the sting of the Civil War defeat.

But not all of it. The bad numbers — including Oregon 48, Oregon State 24 — are etched in history. There’s no erasing that.

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