BY KERRY EGGERS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/'It's what you live for,' says quarterback who will replace injured Luton against highly favored Huskies

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - GARRETSONDarell Garretson has not just heard about the 1985 Oregon State-Washington game in which the 38-point-underdog Beavers upset the Huskies 21-20 in Seattle.

"I watched it on Pac-12 Rewind," OSU's senior quarterback says. "I actually do remember seeing that game."

Garretson would love to think the current Beavers (1-3 overall, 0-1 ub Pac-12 action) can recreate history Saturday against sixth-ranked Washington (4-0, 1-0). The defending Pac-12 champion Huskies are 27-point favorites.

"That's something you think about," Garretson says. "You go into every game expecting to come out on top. If you think you're going to lose, you just lost. We have the confidence we're going to do it."

Garretson will be at the controls of the Oregon State offense in place of Jake Luton, who went down in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's 52-23 loss at Washington State with a thoracic spine fracture. Garretson finished the game, rushing three times for 15 yards and completing 2 of 2 passes for 20 yards and a touchdown.

"When something like that happens, you worry about Jake first," Garretson says. "Then it's time to go in and do your job. You have to get your head right and go about your business."

Garretson understands how Luton feels. Garretson was the starter for Oregon State's first six games a year ago before a broken foot in a 19-14 loss to Utah ended his season.

"It was really unfortunate," he says. "It was discouraging. I had that in my head for a while. Eventually, I got over it and started working hard and grinding and getting everything done to prepare for this season. You have to put those things in the past."

Garretson went into spring ball in a three-way battle with JC transfer Luton and junior Marcus McMaryion, who succeeded him as starting QB last season. After spring, coach Gary Andersen and offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven announced Luton as the starter.

"I wanted the job, so I was a little disappointed in myself," the 6-foot, 210-pound Garretson says. "After that, it was just keep doing what I'm doing. I worked hard in the summer on everything."

During August training camp, Garretson was running neck-and-neck with McMaryion in the battle for the backup role. Three weeks before the Aug. 29 opener at Colorado State, McMaryion announced he would transfer — days later choosing Fresno State. Did the decision surprise Garretson?

"A little bit," he says, "but he had to do what's best for him. Marcus felt it was the best move to make."

McMaryion is now backing up starter Chason Virgil at Fresno State. In three games with the Bulldogs, McMaryion has completed 21 of 30 passes (70 percent) for 235 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He has rushed seven times for 45 yards (6.4 per carry).

Garretson understood McMaryion's decision. After two years at Utah State, he transferred to Oregon State, sitting out the 2015 season before beginning his two years of eligibility at OSU last fall.

Though they were competitors, Garretson and McMaryion had grown close.

"It sucks to lose a really good player and teammate," Garretson says. "He's still one of my best friends. Marcus and I always talked about stuff. No matter what, when football is over, we were still going to be good friends."

Did Garretson, too, consider a transfer before the season?

"Not really," he says. "I talked to my dad (Rick Garretson) a bunch. He got me through it. He said, 'You never know what can happen. It's a crazy game, stick it out, get your degree and enjoy this last year. Whatever happens, happens.'"

So the grandson of legendary NBA referee Darell Garretson put his nose to the grindstone.

"I knew if my number ever got called, I had to be ready," he says. "Once the season started, I prepared every week like I was a starter, too. Anything can happen."

Something did. Luton went down. Now Garretson — who had been used in a change-of-pace role as a running alternative to Luton against Portland State and Minnesota — has the starting job to himself.

"I'm really excited," he says. "It's another opportunity to go out there and play and be with all my guys playing football again. It's what you live for, what you've worked so hard for in the offseason summer."

A year ago, Garretson completed 73 of 146 passes (50 percent) for 617 yards and three TDs with four picks. He worked hard in the offseason on his passing.

"I think that's helped," he says. "And without a doubt, I'm more comfortable in our system now.

"Whatever I have to do to help the team, whether it's running or throwing — whatever contribution I can make, I'm going to do it."

Did it help to have a bye week to prepare for his first starting duty of the season?

"No doubt," Garretson says. "Any bye week helps a quarterback. It was extra time to get my timing down with our receivers. It was a good transition for me."

Garretson knows the Beavers will have their hands full with the Huskies.

"They're a really good team," he says. "They're top 10 for a reason. They're playing well. You have to come prepared against a team like that. They'll play 'til the last second runs off that clock. They're well-coached. They have great players.

"We have to execute. We have to play all four quarters. We have to come up with our best performance of the season."

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