Beavers fail to produce
LOS ANGELES — The scoreboard read Southern Cal 38, Oregon State 10, as the clock struck zero and the sun began to set on a hot autumn Saturday afternoon at L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
So the 14th-ranked Trojans (5-1 overall, 3-1 in Pac-12 play) won the affair as expected.
But, oh, what chances the 34-point-underdog Beavers (1-5, 0-3) had to pull off a stop-the-presses, shock-the-football-world upset.
"The Trojans are a very good team," Oregon State coach Gary Andersen said. "They proved it and did a nice job. But offensively we had so many opportunities we didn't take advantage of. We left a lot of points out there.
"We had a chance to be right there in that game. The kids battled and played hard, but didn't play well enough to make it a close game."
Oregon State took the ball into Southern Cal territory on eight of 12 possessions … and scored 10 points.
The Trojans fumbled four times, losing two of them, and had three first-half turnovers — two of them inside the USC 30-yard line. The Beavers turned them into … three points.
Southern Cal piled up impressive offensive numbers — 26 first downs, 512 yards total offense and 328 yards passing — but still left the door open for Oregon State to make it a game much of the way.
"It's nothing they did," said OSU receiver Seth Collins, who caught five passes for 99 yards. "We killed ourselves, to be honest."
USC quarterback Sam Darnold completed 25 of 35 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, but had his struggles, especially in the first half.
How did Darnold look to Oregon State's Kyle White?
"Nothing special," the senior cornerback said. "He was a normal Pac-12 quarterback.
"He fumbled twice. He had one pass picked off — should have been three. He was all right. A lot of the plays he made were because we shot ourselves in the foot with little mistakes that became big ones."
Oregon State finished with 319 yards total offense — 210 in the second half. Darrell Garretson connected on 16 of 29 passes for 197 yards with one interception, and Artavis Pierce — subbing for the injured Ryan Nall — rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
The offense, in comparison to last week's 42-7 loss to Washington, was "better," Andersen judged. "Still the same net result. The score is what the score is."
In the first half, Oregon State had consecutive possessions end on the USC 28, 18, 15 and 13. The Beavers mined a single field goal out of that.
"We had opportunities to kick a couple of field goals — didn't happen," Andersen said. "We finally got one through. We had the ball in the Red Zone numerous times and were unable to move. When you move between the 20s and don't get points, you're in big trouble. That's what this game is all about."
Even with the three giveaways, Southern Cal still went into the locker room at the half ahead 21-3. Coach Clay Helton credited the defense.
"Our defense did an amazing job," he said. "Being put in some situations and some field positions like we were … to hold that team to three points in the first half was an amazing job. And they continued that throughout the game."
The Trojans took the opening kickoff and moved methodically until Darnold found Tyler Vaughns behind the OSU secondary for 37 yards and a touchdown, putting the Trojans on top 7-0.
On Oregon State's first possession, a sideline pass by Garretson was intercepted by SC's Jack Jones at the OSU 32. Three plays later, Ronald Jones ran in from four yards and the Trojans' lead was at 14-0.
Then Southern Cal tried to let the Beavers back in it with a quick pair of turnovers late in the first quarter.
Opportunity No. 1: OSU's Brandon Arnold recovered a muffed punt at the USC 29-yard line. On first down, Garretson found Isaiah Hodgins in the end zone, but the freshman couldn't hang on to the ball. On fourth down, Jordan Choukair's 46-yard field-goal attempt was partially blocked.
Opportunity No. 2: Darnold fumbled the ball while attempting to pass, and Bright Ugwoegbu scooped it up at the Trojans' 23. The Beavers moved only five yards, and on fourth down, Choukair's 35-yard attempt — the snap was low — was wide left.
After a three-and-out and a short punt, Oregon State took over at its 47-yard line.
On second-and-goal at the SC 8, Garretson missed a wide-open Tuli Wily-Matagi in the end zone. The Beavers settled for a 23-yard Choukair field goal to cut the difference to 14-3 with 14:17 left in the second quarter.
On USC's next possession, Oregon State forced the Trojans' first punt of the game. But Hamilcar Rashed was flagged for a roughing-the-punter penalty, and the Trojans capitalized on the mistake. Darnold connected with Deontay Burnett for 16 yards and a TD, and it was 21-3.
The Beavers moved from their 25 deep into Southern Cal territory on their next possession. But on fourth-and-two from the 14, Thomas Tyner was stopped short of the first down, and the Trojans took over at their 13.
Manase Hungalu gave Oregon State the ball back, returning an interception to the OSU 47 with 1:40 remaining in the half. But the Beavers went three-and-out and punted, and the Trojans took it into halftime with an 18-point bulge.
When Darnold hooked up with Josh Falo for 30 yards and a touchdown early in the third quarter, the score was 28-3 Southern Cal.
On their next possession, the Beavers marched from their 25 to the USC 4, where Garretson fumbled the shotgun snap as Collins went in motion by him and the Trojans recovered at the six. Darnold then fumbled, the Trojans recovering on their own 1-yard line.
A 33-yard Trevon Bradford punt return was partially nullified by a late personal foul by Andre Botten, but the Beavers took the ball at the USC 39. On first down, Garretson found Collins deep for a 38-yard pass play inside the SC 1. But Collins was penalized for taunting, moving the ball back to the 16.
Asked afterward what happened, Collins said, "I caught the ball, and they throw the flag."
What did he say to the defender?
"I don't remember."
Did he think he didn't deserve the penalty?
"It's irrelevant at this point."
Oregon State overcame that penalty. Pierce snagged a 10-yard reception, then bulled over from the 6-yard line, and the SC lead was trimmed to 28-10 with 14:11 to play.
The Trojans answered with a field goal and touchdown — the latter scored by reserve QB Matt Fink on a 51-yard bootleg. After that, the only question was whether the Men of Troy would cover the spread. They didn't, but might have had not Helton gentlemanly had Fink kneel down at the 4 inside the final minute.
The Beavers had seven penalties for 69 yards, numbers you can normally live with. But three of them — the ones committed by Rashed, Bodden and Collins — were the kind that drive coaches crazy.
"We had unopportunistic penalties that crushed us," Andersen said. "I can take the physical penalties like holding or (pass interference). The other ones, they bother me.
"It's fundamental to what I am and what I believe … discipline. That starts with the coach in January, when you come back to school. That's when you put the discipline in the program and educate the kids on what's right and what's wrong. So those are frustrating. We can do better."
Andersen said it was "a very difficult (Oregon State) locker room" after the game as the Beavers fell to a top-20 team for the third straight game.
"I told (the players) they're in a position to still do some things," he said. "We've gone through a gauntlet, no doubt. We've been a lot of big-boy fights. We have to keep fighting. I'm not going to stop using that word with them."
Collins said the Beavers will work to keep a positive mindset.
"We came out ready to play today, but all the mistakes and lost opportunities added up," he said. "Nobody is going to feel good after a loss, but we know what we have to work on. We can't have a defeatist attitude. We have six more games left."
NOTES: Oregon State plays at home for its next two games, against Colorado next Saturday and against Stanford on Oct. 26. …. OSU was without both starting cornerbacks, Dwayne Williams (knee) and Xavier Crawford (ankle), along with Nall, starting quarterback Jake Luton (spine), starting defensive end Paisa Savea (knee) and reserve linebacker Kesi Ah-Hoy (stinger). Nall is expected to be ready for the Colorado game. … The Trojans were minus several injured starters as well, including a pair of offensive linemen. … Southern Cal has won 24 straight games at home against OSU dating to 1960. The Trojans lead the all-time series 62-11-4. … USC had won 13 consecutive games before its 30-27 loss at Washington State last weekend. … USC's Ronald Jones has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last 12 games. … SC used its blind long snapper, Jake Olson, for the second time this season. Olson snapped on the final PAT. The snap was low, but the holder handled it and Chase McGrath's kick was between the uprights, much to the delight of the depleted throng of partisans that was still on hand.
Oregon State 0 3 0 7 — 10
Southern Cal 14 7 7 10 — 38
USC — Tyler Vaughns 37 pass from Sam Darnold (Chase McGrath kick) 11:29
USC — Ronald Jones 4 run (McGrath kick) 8:49
OSU — Jordan Choukair 33 FG 14:17
USC — Deontay Burnett 16 pass from Darnold (McGrath kick) 10:01
USC — Josh Falo 30 pass from Darnold (McGrath kick) 8:57
OSU — Artavis Pierce 6 run (Choukair kick) 14:11
USC — McGrath 29 FG 10:45
USC — Matt Fink 51 run (McGrath kick) 6:19
Att. — 60,314