Dawgs survive Beaver attack

  • JOHN SLEEPER / Herald Writer
  • Saturday, October 7, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

OSU misses FG with 14 seconds left

By JOHN SLEEPER

Herald Writer

SEATTLE — Whew!

Wide right.

Shades of Florida State vs. Miami. Or the Buffalo Bills in one of the Roman Numeral Super Bowls. Missed field goal. Seconds left. Storybook stuff, really.

Only this time, it was the Washington Huskies who escaped with a 33-30 Pacific-10 Conference victory against Oregon State after Beavers placekicker Ryan Cesca missed a 46-yard field goal slightly to the right of the upright with 14 seconds remaining.

"We were thinking about overtime," UW quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo said. "But at the same time, I was saying, ‘Please miss, please miss.’ "

The 13th-ranked Huskies (1-1 Pac-10, 4-1 overall) survived both 23rd-ranked Oregon State and their own matador pass defense Saturday night at Husky Stadium with a newly-found explosiveness in their offense and a little bit of good fortune.

Only after Cesca’s kick sailed inches to the right of the upright were the 73,145 fans on hand able to take a breath.

"It was a hard-fought victory," UW coach Rick Neuheisel said. "You’ve got to congratulate Oregon State on a great effort. It was just one of those nights where it was going to go down to the end, and fortunately when it did, we were still standing."

The Huskies, humbled after a couple of mediocre offensive games against Colorado and Oregon, had little trouble moving the ball against an Oregon State squad that had made a name for itself with defense. Washington ran over the Beavers with long, crunching, time-consuming drives unseen all season long.

"We went into the game thinking we were going to utilize all our weapons," Neuheisel said. "They were effective, so we kept them going. The best thing we did was that we were able to keep our offense on the field."

Trouble was, Washington never really stopped Oregon State.

The teams combined for 978 yards, 63 first downs and untold gray hairs on their defensive coordinators.

Quarterback Jonathan Smith led the Beavers back from a 33-23 deficit with 8:23 remaining and almost pulled it off. He hit Chad Johnson for an 80-yard scoring strike with 7:22 remaining to pull OSU to 33-30.

"I thought we had them on the ropes," Neuheisel said. "They responded on third down and 10 with a long pass play to a very talented receiver."

After the Huskies went three-and-out, Smith marched the Beavers from their own 15-yard line and stopped at the Husky 28 in 14 plays.

But only time could stop Oregon State.

Lord knows the Huskies didn’t.

Oregon State came into the contest fourth in the nation in rush defense, yet the Huskies, sparked by two young tailbacks, rolled up 281 yards on the ground. True freshman Rich Alexis rolled for a career-high 107 yards on 12 carries, including two touchdowns, while sophomore Paul Arnold added 102 yards on 16 carries.

"(OSU’s defense) looked good on tape," Alexis said. "But you can’t let that interfere with what you have to do. It doesn’t matter where you’re ranked. You’ve still got to produce."

This, against a defense that allowed an average of just 58.5 yards a game on the ground. Going into the game, the Beavers had allowed a total of 234 yards on the ground in four games. OSU yielded just 235.3 yards a game, sixth in the nation, but the Huskies finished with 504.

"I thought this was the best game we’ve played, offensively," OSU coach Dennis Erickson said, "and the worst we’ve played on defense."

Smith finished with 13 of 24 passing for 314 yards and three touchdowns. OSU’s Ken Simonton, the nation’s leading rusher at 177 yards a game, had 104 yards on 23 carries.

That said, the game was one of the most thrilling since, well, the last time OSU came to Husky Stadium, Oct. 24, 1998, when Washington needed a pass batted away by Nigel Burton in the end zone with no time left to escape with a 35-34 victory.

The Beavers got on the board first on a 48-yard pass by Smith to wideout Robert Prescott. Prescott was wide open on the play, and the Beavers took a 7-0 advantage with 5:29 left in the first quarter.

The Huskies responded with an eight-play, 85-yard scoring drive, capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Marques Tuiasosopo to Justin Robbins. That tied the score at 7 with 3:06 left in the first quarter.

Reserve tailback Patrick McCall, who finished with 89 yards on 11 carries, put the Beavers up 14-7 on the next drive with a 43-yard scamper around left end late in the first quarter. He simply outran four UW defenders after he turned the corner and was untouched en route to the end zone.

The Huskies tied it at 14 early in the second quarter, when Alexis dove over from a yard out. The Huskies drove 57 yards in eight plays, using 3:51.

After finally holding off the OSU offense, the Huskies went on another long scoring drive. John Anderson’s 27-yard field goal capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive that knocked 3:11 off the clock and put Washington ahead, 17-14, with 5:33 left in the half.

Anderson made it 20-14 as time ran out in the half with a 23-yard field goal.

But the Beavers weren’t done.

They went on a long drive of their own, 11 plays and 89 yards’ worth, capped by an 11-yard scoring pass from Smith to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and OSU led, 21-20, with a little more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Huskies, however, again went on a marathon drive.

With Tuiasosopo hitting five of six passes for 58 yards, Alexis walked in from the 1-yard line. The drive: 13 plays, 69 yards, 5:28.

But when the Huskies went for a two-point conversion, Tuiasosopo fumbled the snap. The ball bounced crazily and Beaver cornerback Keith Heyward-Johnson picked it up and ran 95 yards into the end zone. That gave OSU two points, but the Beavers still trailed, 26-23.

After the Husky defense held, Tuiasosopo engineered a six-play, 60-yard drive that lasted 2:09. It was Tuiasosopo himself who ran the last 4 yards for a touchdown, and the Huskies held a commanding 33-23 lead with 8:23 left in the game.

That set up the Beavers’ final shenanigans.

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