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Beavers 'let foot off gas,' hold on to beat Warriors

HONOLULU — Beauty was in the eye of the beholder when judging Oregon State's 38-30 victory over Hawaii Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.

To those watching in Beaver Nation, the near collapse from a 38-7 lead after three quarters gives pause and puts stain on a near-flawless performance to that point.

How much did OSU coach Mike Riley feel getting outscored 23-0 in the fourth quarter to turn a rout into a nail-biter took away from the win?

"None," Riley said. "It's going to stay in that (win) column over there. It'll be over there forever. We'll take it."

For Oregon State, it's a good thing college football games are only 60 minutes long. Any more time on the clock and the Rainbow Warriors might have stolen one that looked like it was firmly in the Beavers' pockets.

Oregon State (2-0) put together a first half suitable for framing in running up a 31-7 advantage. But after Hawaii (0-2) scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to draw within 38-14, things began to get squeamish for the visitors from the mainland.

After the Beavers went three-and-out and on fourth down, Keith Kostol's punt was blocked. Three plays later, Joey Iosefa rushed for his third touchdown of the game and Hawaii was down 38-20 with still 12:07 to play.

On the ensuing kickoff, OSU's Rahmel Dockery fumbled and the Warriors recovered on the Beavers' 20. The hosts settled for a 33-yard Tyler Hadden field goal, but it was suddenly 38-23 with 10:55 left.

Its mojo gone, Oregon State went three-and-out again and punted. Hawaii drove from its 34 to the OSU 21 before turning the ball over with 5:12 remaining. The Beavers managed one first down on a critical 20-yard carry by Terron Ward, who finished with 124 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. After a punt, Hawaii took over at its 13 with 2:37 on the clock and no timeouts remaining.

The Warriors, benefitting from a pair of OSU penalties, drove 87 yards in six plays, quarterback Ikaika Woolsey running two yards for a TD to make it 38-30 with 1:35 to play.

Only after a failed onside kick and three kneel-downs could the Beavers finally breathe a sigh of relief.

"We let off the gas," said receiver Victor Bolden, who caught 11 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. "Next game, we have to execute through to the end."

Quarterback Sean Mannion said the game felt "a little bit the opposite" of Oregon State's opening 29-14 win over Portland State, in which the Beavers trailed 14-13 at halftime.

"We got off to a good start," said Mannion, who completed 26 of 37 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. "We know we need to be able to close games a little better than that. It wasn't all bad, but we have to pride ourselves on doing better. When there are four or five minutes left and we're in the lead, we have to be the last ones with the ball."

The only reason it wasn't all that bad is because the Beavers didn't suffer what would have been an all-time disastrous loss.

"I'm just glad to win," Riley said. The Warriors are "a good team. I'm glad we jumped on them like we did. They came roaring back. If you want to let a team back in there, what we did is what you do -- you get a punt blocked, fumble a kickoff return … all the classic stuff. They get momentum, they get excited, you go into a shell a little bit and they make plays. I've seen that happen lots of times.

"We didn't finish it real well, but I'm glad we held them off to win the game."

At the end, the Beavers were hanging on like survivors on a sinking ocean liner. Obum Gwachum had a pair of sacks and a third erased by penalty in his second game at defensive end, but the 6-5, 235-pound senior qualified his pleasure afterward.

"That felt great," he said of the sacks, "but I keep thinking about the end, and how we finished. I saw the look on our coaches' faces. Seeing that took a little bit out of the win."

The Beavers had one first down and 20 yards total offense in the fourth quarter as Hawaii, held to 198 yards offense through three quarters, nearly pulled off the upset.

Oregon State dominated the first half with a balanced offensive attack, a defense that stuffed Hawaii and a host of crippling penalties by the Warriors.

The Beaver won the battle in first downs (18-8), total offense (348-111), passing offense (207-67) and rushing offense (141-44) over the first 30 minutes. Hawaii had seven penalties for 63 yards to Oregon State's six for 27 yards.

Mannion was 16 for 23 passing for 207 yards and two touchdowns in the half. His one interception -- on an inside screen pass -- was returned seven yards by Hawaii's TJ Taimatula to the Oregon State 6. That set up the Warriors' only score of the first half, a 2-yard run by Iosefa.

Ward (nine carries, 90 yards, two TDs) and Storm Woods (four rushes, 28 yards) were effective on the ground, and Bolden (six catches, 86 yards) was a major weapon through the air.

The Beavers had six "explosive" plays in the half -- receptions by Bolden (41 yards), Connor Hamlett (37), Woods (28) and Caleb Smith (27) and runs by Ward (35 and 32).

"That's a little picture of what we need to be," Riley said of the Beavers' first-half performance. "Get some big plays down the field, have a good mixture of run and pass."

Hawaii, meanwhile, didn't have much of anything going other than on its first possession, when the Warriors took it from their 25 to the OSU 16 before Iosefa's fumble was recovered by the Beavers' Siale Hautau. Woolsey was 8 for 22 passing for 67 yards and was sacked twice by Gwachum. Hawaii coach Norm Chow spent his entire walk to the locker room jawing at the side judge of the officiating crew.

"The first half, everybody was focused," said OSU linebacker Michael Doctor, who eight tackles, including 1 1/2 for loss. "When we have focus, we can be a great team."

The Beavers were a great team for about 2 1/2 quarters Saturday night. They stalled some in the third quarter, then came to a screeching halt in the fourth quarter. Mercifully, the clock expired before the unthinkable happened.

"It wasn't the way we thought it would end," Gwachum said. "When we went in for the half, we wanted to come back out and continue to play fast. Little mistakes killed us."

The mistakes were't little, though.

"The biggest trouble we had was getting a punt blocked and fumbling a kickoff," Riley said. "It's no contest if you don't do that."

"We came out pretty strong," Doctor said. "In the second half, we left some plays out there. We can't do that if we want to be a good team like we're capable of."

"We just have to execute a little better," Mannion said. "UH is a good team. (The Warriors are) real tough up front. They showed that all night. We know late in games, we have to be able to close it out."

As he met with the media, Riley seemed irritated -- probably a combination of the media's focus on the second half and with his players' performance during it.

"We know we have to get better in some aspects," Riley said. "We knew that last week, and we got better. We have to keep improving. We're going to have play real well to win games as we go. We have to get better all the time.

"Our kids had a great week. They handled the trip real well. We came out here and, right off the bat, took it to them."

Riley pointed out that Hawaii gave Washington all it could handle it a 17-16 loss last week and that two starters on OSU's offensive line -- center Isaac Seumalo (foot) and guard Garrett Weinreich (knee) -- did not play.

"I'm not making excuses," Riley said, "but I thought the kids did a pretty good job against a defense that pretty much stuffed Washington.

"We'll work on all the stuff we have to work on. They know it. I don't have to say anything to them. I told them we came over to win, and we did win. We'll take it, and we'll get better. You have to give the other team some credit, too."

CORE BY QUARTERS

Oregon State 14 17 7 0 -- 38

Hawaii 0 7 0 23 -- 30

FIRST QUARTER

OSU -- Richard Mullaney 4 pass from Sean Mannion (Garrett Owens kick) 10:12

OSU -- Connor Hamlett 5 pass from Mannion (Owens kick) 6:15

SECOND QUARTER

OSU -- Terron Ward 32 run (Owens kick) 13:30

HAWAII -- Joey Iosefa 2 run (Tyler Hadden kick) 10:52

OSU -- Owens 27 FG 6:12

OSU -- Ward 2 run (Owens kick) 1:31

THIRD QUARTER

OSU -- Victor Bolden 8 pass from Mannion (Owens kick) 10:56

FOURTH QUARTER

HAWAII: Iosefa 1 run (Hadden kick) 14:55

HAWAII: Iosefa 5 run (pass failed) 12:07

HAWAII: Hadden 33 FG 10:55

HAWAII: Ikaika Woolsey 2 run (Hadden kick) 1:35

ATT. -- 29,050

kerryeggers@portlandtribune.com

Twitter: @kerryeggers

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