'It stinks': OSU recovers from dismal start but can't convert opportunities to win
by: Christopher Onstott Oregon State running back Malcolm Andrew fumbles the ball inside the 10-yard line, recovered by Sacramento State at Reser Stadium in Corvallis Saturday. The Beavers lost 29-28.

CORVALLIS - One team's euphoria means agony for the opponent.

Saturday at Reser Stadium, there was no other way to describe it.

Sacramento State's startling 29-28 overtime victory over Oregon State was unprecedented for a school that hasn't had a lot of athletic highs over the years.

'If it's not the biggest win in the program's history, it's up there,' said fifth-year coach Marshall Sperbeck, a one-time Oregon State quarterback. 'As far as my tenure, it's definitely the biggest win.'

For Oregon State, which played the Civil War for the right to represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl in 2008 and '09, it was the lowest of lows.

'It stinks,' OSU's Cameron Collins said.

Worst loss ever?

'Right now it feels like that,' the senior linebacker said.

It was Oregon State's first loss to a Division I-AA opponent since 1996, when Jerry Pettibone's final team lost 35-14 to Montana at home in the season opener.

These Beavers couldn't have imagined something like this happening, even with the wave of injuries that have plagued them through the latter part of last season, the offseason and during training camp.

'We expected a win,' said OSU receiver Markus Wheaton, who had six receptions for 108 yards. 'The plan was to go undefeated (this season).

'It's a real shocker, but (the Hornets) came to play.'

They did. Senior quarterback Jeff Fleming threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns and hurt the OSU defense several times with his feet. Brandyn Reed and Chase Deadder each caught a pair of touchdown passes, and it was Reed's reception for a two-point conversion in overtime that sent the Hornets onto the field in delirium over what will be one of college football's biggest upsets this season.

'A very disappointing loss,' OSU coach Mike Riley allowed, 'but you have to give credit to Sacramento State.

'(The Hornets) did a nice job. (Fleming) did a nice job. They had a good plan. They made some plays. That was a good job by them. For us, you list all the ways to lose a game, we did it.'

Oregon State had only two turnovers - an interception and a fumble - but each was in the red zone. Three pass-interference penalties ignited Sac State and provided one touchdown for the visitors from the Big Sky Conference.

The Beavers, who rallied from a 21-6 fourth-quarter deficit, had a chance to win at the end of regulation. But with the score tied 21-21, true freshman Trevor Romaine's 27-yard field goal attempt bounced off the crossbar and back onto the field as time expired.

It spoiled a hallmark debut for OSU's Malcolm Agnew, who became the first true freshman in school history to start his opening game at tailback. The 5-8, 190-pound St. Louis native carried the ball 33 times for 223 yards and three touchdowns - with 191 yards and all three scores coming after intermission.

'Malcolm ran hard,' Wheaton said. 'He didn't back down at all. I saw it in his eyes. He had that drive the second half, even though the first half didn't go so well. I'm proud of him. He did a good job.'

It was the ninth-best single-game rushing performance in Oregon State history and the best ever by a freshman. But Agnew couldn't get out of his mind a fourth-quarter fumble inside the Sac State 20 as the Beavers were driving toward a go-ahead score. He was mindful of the record of his predecessor, Jacquizz Rodgers, who never fumbled in 940 rushing attempts and pass receptions.

'It was pretty good for the first game, but I need to improve,' Agnew said. 'I fumbled. That's unacceptable.

'Quizz went like 1,000 touches without a fumble. I have big standards to live up to.'

Agnew admitted he was nervous early in the game.

'I had jitters the first few series,' said Agnew, who gained 32 yards on seven first-half carries. 'Took awhile for them to go away.'

Another rookie - redshirt freshman Sean Mannion - entered the game at quarterback after an ineffective first half by junior starter Ryan Katz. With the 6-5, 220-pound Mannion at the controls, the Beavers ran up 356 yards total offense and 25 points after the break.

'Sean had a great game,' offensive tackle Mike Remmers said. 'He had some confidence out there. You wouldn't really expect it from a younger guy. He stayed poised.'

After Romaine's miss, Oregon State had the ball first in overtime and took two plays to score. Agnew ripped off eight yards on first down, then blasted 17 yards up the middle for a touchdown. Romaine's conversion made it 28-21 for the Beavers.

The Hornets were undaunted, however. Reed's touchdown catch on third-and-goal from the 6-yard line lifted the Hornets to within 28-27.

There would be no extra session. Sperbeck elected to go for two points and the win. Fleming's pass to Reed on a fade route to the right corner of the end zone was on the money, and OSU cornerback Jordan Poyer fell in coverage.

'We knew we had to go for two,' Sperbeck said. 'We were gassed. We figured we had a 50-50 chance, and we went for it and got the win.'

A pair of second-quarter Fleming-to-Deadder touchdown passes had given Sac State a 14-3 lead at the half as the Beavers managed only 140 yards total offense the first two periods. That's when Mannion went in for Katz, a move Riley said had been in the works regardless of the situation - though Mannion was listed on the depth chart at No. 3 behind Katz and sophomore Cody Vaz.

'We had planned we were going to play Sean at some point,' the OSU coach said. 'We thought it might be at the end of the first quarter, but the way the game was going, we stayed with Ryan.

'(Mannion) had had a terrific camp; we thought it would be good for the strength of our team down the road for him to have played some. At halftime, I said, 'Let's do it. Put him in there.' "

Oregon State went to its power ground attack, with Agnew getting Bill Enyart-like duty. On the opening drive of the second half, the rookie tailback got the ball six straight times as the Beavers moved from their 29-yard line to the Sac State 23. On successive plays, Agnew had gains of 10, 6, 7, 3, 15 and 7 yards.

He got the ball a seventh time, but Remmers was called for a 15-yard penalty on a chop block, moving the ball back to the Hornets' 38. The Beavers wound up settling for a 45-yard Romaine field goal to draw to within 14-6 with 10:51 left in the third quarter.

Sac State responded beautifully, moving the ball from its own 25 to the Oregon State 39. On first-and-10 from there, Fleming tossed the ball laterally to Morris Norrise, who wound up and threw a home-run ball to a wide-open Reed for 39 yards, a TD and a 21-6 lead with 7:40 to play in the third period.

Things were going so well for the visitors that on one play late in the quarter, Fleming scrambled under pressure and, as he was falling down, threw desperately downfield to Norrise, who made a diving catch for 22 yards and a first down.

Finally - with the Hornets driving toward what appeared another score - something good happened for the Beavers. Sac State's Bryan Hilliard fumbled and OSU's Dylan Wynn recovered at the Beavers' 38.

From there, the Beavers marched 62 yards in 11 plays - all on the ground - with Agnew carrying the final yard for a touchdown, pulling OSU to within 21-13 with 12:44 remaining in the game.

Oregon State's defense forced a punt, and the Beavers took over at their 30. After a false-start penalty, Mannion went deep to Wheaton for a 69-yard pass-and-run play to the Sac State 6-yard line. Agnew's four-yard TD run closed the margin to 21-19, and when Mannion found an all-alone Wheaton in the end zone for a two-point conversion, the score was tied at 21-21 with 8:08 left.

Then came a pair of turnovers - one by each team - and a shocking turnaround.

First, OSU cornerback Sean Martin stripped Deadder of the ball after a reception and the Beavers took over at their 36. Then, after the Beavers marched to the Sac State 25, Agnew fumbled on a run up the middle. Hornet safety Joe Larche picked up the bobble and rambled 58 yards to the OSU 28 with 5:08 to play.

'He poked (the ball) out from behind,' Agnew said. 'That's why it went forward so far. Have to keep two hands on the ball.'

On fourth-and-inches from the 19, Fleming scrambled for four yards and a first down. Four plays later, Jason Diniz's 28-yard field-goal attempt was low and bounced off the helmet of OSU D-tackle Castro Masaniai, and the Beavers took over at their 17 with 2:35 left.

That began the march that took the Beavers inside the Sac State 5, only to have Romaine's game-winning field-goal attempt go awry.

Mannion finished 8-for-12 passing for 143 yards, including 6-for-8 for 128 in the fourth quarter.

'What was different in the second half for us on offense, we were running the ball,' Riley said. 'We didn't throw the ball for a long time when he was in there.

'But he ran the team and then he started making some throws. That's the kind of game we want to play, where we're getting some ground game going, and the passing goes easier all of a sudden. He took advantage and did a nice job.'

The Hornets had only two first downs and 46 yards offense through a scoreless first quarter, but gathered some steam and won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in the second period.

Katz struggled with his decision-making and passing precision in the first half, completing 11 of 22 passes for 87 yards but often missing a target or going to a receiver who could do little after a catch. He was sacked twice.

'A lot of the problem (with Katz) is we were struggling with protection,' Riley said. 'There were a lot of times where we didn't give him much of a chance to throw.'

After a three-and-out and a short punt on Sacramento State's first possession, Oregon State moved from the Sac State 49 to the Hornets 19. Then Katz tried to force a pass in to freshman Brandin Cooks, and it was intercepted by Sac State's Osagie Odiase at the Hornets' 24.

The Beavers drove from their own 37 to the Sac State 11 but stalled, settling for a 29-yard field goal by Romaine and a 3-0 lead with 11:52 left in the second quarter.

Sac State answered with a six-play, 69-yard scoring drive aided by a pair of OSU pass-interference penalties. When Deadder hauled in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Fleming, the Hornets led 7-3 with 9:23 to go in the quarter.

Oregon State went three-and-out on its next possession, and the Hornets came back with a 10-play, 70-yard drive. When Deadder caught a slant pass for four yards and a score, the Beavers were down 14-3 2:39 before halftime.

'We sputtered around for so long offensively in the first half, and they were disruptive,' Riley said. 'We didn't handle it very well.'

Oregon State was minus several starters due to injuries, but none of the Beavers were using it as an excuse.

'It didn't play any part in the loss,' Collins said. 'People get hurt. Other people have to step up.'

'We never say (injuries caused a loss) in this program,' Riley said. 'That's a big-time cop-out. We got beat. That's the bottom line, and there are all sorts of reasons for that.'

Asked if it was the worst loss of his 35-year coaching career, Riley smiled wryly.

'I don't feel like ranking them right now,' he said. 'Regardless of whatever division (the Hornets) are in, they played good football.'

Now the Beavers must regroup for a trip to Wisconsin, where they'll face a Badger team next Saturday that will be ranked among the nation's top 10.

'We'll just have to take the pieces and work to get this thing going,' Riley said. 'We baptized a lot of players today. Some of those guys did some real good things.'

NOTES: Oregon State suited 10 true freshmen among its 70 players in uniform - Romaine, Agnew, Cooks, tailback Terron Ward, defensive end Dylan Wynn, safeties Peter Ashton and Tyrequek Zimmerman and linebackers Kyle Egan, Jabral Johnson and Josh Williams. An 11th true freshman, linebacker D.J. Welch, sat out with an elbow injury. ... Former OSU standout Stephen Paea, a rookie with the Chicago Bears, was given a standing ovation when introduced as a 2010 All-American between the first and second quarters. ... Oregon State had won nine straight home openers dating to 2002 ... Katz scrambled twice in the first half for gains of 18 and 13 yards. ... Agnew also was on OSU's kickoff team. ... Cooks lost his helmet after being hit on a reception in the first quarter, kept going, took another hit and finally went down after an eight-yard gain. He was unhurt and remained in the game. ...OSU defensive lineman Dominic Glover sat out the game, having not yet completed academic requirements necessary for eligibility. ... OSU offensive tackle Michael Philipp, still dealing with the effects of a knee injury, will redshirt this season.


Sacramento State 0 14 7 0 8 - 29

Oregon State 0 3 0 15 7 - 28


No scoring.


OSU - Trevor Romaine 29 field goal 11:52

SSU - Chase Deadder 19 pass from Jeff Fleming (Jason Diniz kick) 9:23

SSU - Deadder 4 pass from Fleming (Diniz kick) 2:39


OSU - Romaine 45 field goal 10:51

SSU - Brandyn Reed 39 pass from Morris Norrise (Diniz kick) 7:40


OSU - Malcolm Agnew 1 run (Romaine kick) 12:44

OSU - Agnew 4 run (Markus Wheaton pass from Sean Mannion) 8:08


OSU -- Agnew 17 run (Romaine kick)

SSU -- Reed 6 pass from Fleming (Reed pass from Fleming)

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