Dam breaks as Beavers give up flood of points
FORT COLLINS, Colorado — Oregon State did the Humpty Dumpty in the inaugural game at Colorado State Stadium on Saturday. And for those on the side of Beaver Nation, it was not a pretty sight.
After OSU's great fall — which resulted in a 58-27 thrashing — those in Beavers gear were left searching for adjectives of despair.
"Horrible," said senior linebacker Manase Hungala of Oregon State's performance in the season opener for both schools.
"Embarrassing," said coach Gary Andersen, who was flabbergasted to see his third Beaver team lay such an egg in front of an announced sellout throng of 37,583. "Those are uncharted waters for me."
Asked if he meant having a team get beaten so soundly in an opener, or simply by that many points, period, Andersen said, "I'm not used to getting beat physically like that."
Colorado State won the battle of the trenches on both sides of the ball. That was particularly true in the second half, when the Rams — who led 24-20 at halftime — outscored the flagging Beavers 34-7.
It was the most points Oregon State has ever given up in a season opener, and the most points an Andersen OSU team has yielded.
It was the Beavers' most one-sided defeat since a 47-6 loss at Colorado last season and the most points an OSU team has given up since a 69-27 drubbing by Washington in 2013.
Andersen was offering no excuses and pointing a finger in the mirror as he met with the media afterward.
"We can all call it what we want," he said. "Yeah, it was a close game at the half, turnovers, blah blah blah. … when you have a team do what they did to us … we couldn't answer the bell in the second half.
"I'm not saying it's anybody else's fault but mine. I'll put it right on me."
Colorado State's offense averaged 50 points in its last four games a year ago, but one of those was a 61-50 setback to Idaho in something called the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Beavers didn't come anywhere close to the number the Vandals put up in that one, but the Rams exceeded their total with an offensive display that included 31 first downs, 525 yards total offense and 334 yards passing.
Also, when the Rams got near paydirt, they found it, going 8 for 8 in the red zone.
"That's damn hard to do," Andersen said.
CSU's dominance grew as the game went on. In the Rams' final nine possessions, they scored eight times — six touchdowns, two field goals. They had 16 first downs, 279 yards total offense and 172 yards passing in the second half. The Beavers managed only 123 yards total offense after intermission.
"They came out (for the second half) ready, and we didn't," OSU cornerback Xavier Crawford said. "They came out hot, and we weren't ready for it."
Colorado State's senior quarterback, Nick Stevens, had a spiffy afternoon, completing 26 of 39 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns. CSU's All-Mountain West receiver, senior Michael Gallup, beat Beaver coverage all day, raking in 11 catches for 134 yards.
The Rams' four running backs combined for 40 carries, 185 yards and three TDs.
"Their recipe for success is well-known," Andersen said, speaking of a balanced offensive attack. "They followed that recipe very well today, and we basically couldn't do anything about it. We got beat badly. Badly."
Oregon State matched Colorado State at the offensive end through the first half and held a total yardage advantage until early in the final period. The Beavers finished with 23 first downs, 456 yards total offense and 304 yards passing. Sometimes, those numbers will spell victory, but they weren't even close to enough on Saturday.
In his first game as a Beaver, junior quarterback Jake Luton connected on 27 of 47 passes for 304 yards and two TDs. But the 6-7, 235-pound JC transfer also had three interceptions — the first one returned 44 yards for a touchdown by CSU linebacker Tre Thomas to give the Rams a 34-20 advantage in the third quarter.
"Jake was solid," Andersen said. "A couple (of his passes) you'd like to have back. It felt like we slowed our play at receiver the second half. It made it harder to throw the ball. But Jake made some big plays for us."
The Beavers had five turnovers, including a pair of fumbles.
"Too many drive-killers," Luton said. "We showed we can move the ball at will when we're clicking, when we're executing the right way. We beat ourselves too many times on drives. We can't put the defense in that position."
Ryan Nall rushed for 115 yards on 15 carries, including a 75-yard TD gallop in the second quarter to put Oregon State in front 17-14. Other than the long one, the junior tailback gained only 40 yards on 14 totes. Take away Nall's 75-yarder and the Beavers totaled only 77 yards on 28 attempts.
"Our inability to run the ball effectively really hurt," Andersen said. "Our yards per carry were not even close to where it needs to be."
CSU interceptions on successive OSU offensive series in the third quarter "are gigantic plays when you're playing on the road in that situation," Andersen said. "Those can't happen.
"There were times when we functioned well on offense; there were times when we functioned well on defense. But we never put it together where they played well at the same time. We never got in a good rhythm on both sides of the ball. There were some nice drives, but we stalled them out, and they didn't."
The bigger problem was on the defensive side. D-coordinator Kevin Clune felt it started on the ground.
"We have to be able to stop the run," Clune said.
There was too little pressure on Stevens, who was not sacked all day.
"We hit him a few times," Clune said. "We didn't get the sacks. Coverage and the pressure have to work together. There were times where we were a step away. Things snowballed at the end, and kids started trying to play outside themselves a little bit."
Luton was 18 for 31 passing in the first half. Andersen — who prefers to run about 60 percent of the time — was asked if 31 passes in a half are too many.
"Probably," he said. "But (the Rams) did a nice job on our run game, and we had some wide-open receivers in the first half, so that led us to throw it a little bit more. If we connect the dots on a couple of more of those, it's a different game."
Luton found Timmy Hernandez wide open deep for a 39-yard touchdown, and the Beavers went on top 7-0 with 11:31 left in the first quarter.
After a Kyle White interception gave Oregon State the ball at its 42, the Beavers moved inside the CSU 30 before settling for a 40-yard Jordan Choukair field goal and a 10-7 lead late in the period.
The Rams answered with a 13-play, 77-yard march to seize a 14-10 advantage with 11:10 to play in the second quarter. Nall changed that quickly after the ensuing touchback. On first-and-10 from the 25, he burst through the line, shifted outside, broke a tackle and then was gone, running away from defenders en route to a 75-yard touchdown. With a 13-second shift in momentum, the Beavers were on top 17-14.
The Rams scored the next 10 points, including a touchdown to go ahead 24-17 with 1:19 to go.
The Beavers went to the air and nearly evened the count before halftime. Luton connected with Trevon Bradford for 34 yards to the CSU 7 with 13 seconds left. On the next play, Luton evaded pressure, rolled right and sidearmed a pass to tight end Noah Togiai, who appeared to make the catch in the end zone. Officials ruled he juggled the ball until out of bounds, though, and the Beavers settled for a 25-yard Choukair field goal to trail 24-20 at intermission.
"I couldn't see it," Andersen said. "The (OSU coaches) in the (press) box thought he caught it, but it wasn't a catch because (the referees) said it wasn't."
Leading by four at the half, Colorado State drove to first-and-goal at the 3-yard line with its first possession in the third quarter. But the Beavers' defense came up strong, forcing a 25-yard Wyatt Bryan field goal and keeping the Rams' lead to 27-20.
Then came the game-changing pick-six. Luton's pass intended for true freshman Isaiah Hodgins was tipped, picked off by Thomas and returned for a score. Suddenly, the hosts were on top 34-20 with 5:39 to go in the third quarter.
The Beavers quickly moved into CSU territory, but Luton's bomb for Hernandez — the receiver fell down as Luton released the ball — was intercepted in the end zone by Anthony Hawkins.
After Bryan's 41-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter made it 37-20, the Beavers got a break when they recovered a fumbled punt at the CSU 23 with 13:18 left. On third-and-12 from the 25, Luton hit Togiai for a touchdown down the right sidelines to close the gap to 37-27 with 11:52 on the clock.
But the Rams answered. On third-and-six from their 31, Stevens found Gallup for 48 yards. Three plays later, Stevens connected with Detrich Clark for 20 yards and a 44-27 lead, and it was over.
Hungalu laid the blame on the OSU defense, saying he didn't consider Colorado State a Pac-12-caliber offense.
"No," he said. "But we respected our opponent. We didn't go into the game high-headed at all. We just made too many mistakes. Had guys missing assignments. Lack of hustle. Things that shouldn't have happened, they happened.
"It was lack of communication out there. A lot of little things. It wasn't so much missed tackles on anything like that. We had a few, but it was more alignment and communication errors. We beat ourselves."
Relayed Hungala's comments, Andersen shook his head.
"If kids are saying that, it's bad coaching, period," he said. "It stinks. We have to be able to communicate out there.
"Those kids can accept some of the blame. They will. But in your first game, there are no surprises. If you have communication issues, it's a real problem."
Hungalu spoke to his teammates in the locker room afterward. Sunday is a day off for the Beavers, but Hungalu organized a defensive group meeting to watch game video.
Luton said the Beavers will find out a lot about themselves as they prepare for next Saturday's home opener against Portland State.
"We got beat today in a fashion we weren't ready to get beat in," he said. "Nobody expected we were going to have an outcome like this.
"So now it's guys need to step up, figure out what we did wrong and come back strong next week. Leaders on the team have to be responsible to get the guys going the right way. We have a lot to prove now."
NOTES — With the early 11:30 PT start, Oregon State versus Colorado was the nation's first college football game. … Andersen's road record as OSU's head coach fell to 0-12. His Beaver teams are 6-7 at home. … OSU defensive tackle Elu Aydon (leg) left in the first half and did not return. … Luton overthrew a wide-open Hodgins on what could have been a 72-yard scoring play on Oregon State's first offensive series. … In his first game as a Beaver, former UO tailback Thomas Tyner carried four times for eight yards. … Oregon State flanker Seth Collins sat out the game with a broken finger on his right hand. Collins may not return to action for another month. … Togiai and Jordan Villamin led Beaver receivers with seven catches apiece — Villamin for 77 yards, Togiai for 67 yards. … Five true freshmen saw their first action for OSU — receivers Hodgins and Tino Allen, running back Calvin Tyler, linebacker Kesi Ah-Hoy and safety David Morris. … Colorado State's starting "Buck" linebacker, 6-4, 250-pound Tony Colorito, is a senior from Beaverton High. He finished the game with five tackles. … Colorado State President Tony Frank, who was instrumental in getting the new stadium financed and built, came to Fort Collins in 1993 from Oregon State, where he was a faculty member. ... Colorado State won the last meeting between the schools 17-8 in Corvallis in 1975, Dee Andros' last season as the Beavers' coach.
Oregon State 10 10 0 7 — 27
Colorado State 7 17 10 24 — 58
OSU — Timmy Hernandez 39 pass from Jake Luton (Jordan Choukair kick) 11:31
CSU — Izzy Matthews 1 run (Wyatt Bryan kick) 8:09
OSU — Choukair 40 FG 2:08
CSU — Dalyn Dawkins 18 pass from Nick Stevens (Bryan kick) 11:10
OSU— Ryan Nall 75 run (Choukair kick) 10:57
CSU — Bryan 23 FG 8:15
CSU — Dawkins 3 run (Bryan kick) 1:19
OSU — Choukair 25 FG :00
CSU — Bryan 25 FG 8:50
CSU — Tre Thomas 44 interception return (Bryan kick) 5:39
CSU — Bryan 41 FG 14:42
OSU — Noah Togiai 25 pass from Luton (Choukair kick) 11:52
CSU — Detrich Clark 20 pass from Stevens (Bryan kick) 10:23
CSU — Cameron Butler 15 pass from Stevens (Bryan kick) 6:29
CSU — Marvin Kinsey 2 run (Bryan kick) 1:59
Att. — 37,583