CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State tamed Washington State’s offense and sent the Cougars home with a deflating loss.
OSU bottled up the Cougs’ Air Raid and came away with a streak-snapping victory.
WSU faltered against a Beaver defense that blanketed the Cougs’ receivers and consistently harassed their quarterback. OSU outmuscled the visitors, leading from wire to wire during its first win over WSU in nine tries.
The Beavers handled the Cougs, prevailing 24-10 on Saturday at Reser Stadium. OSU fans stormed the field to celebrate their first win over WSU since 2013.
WSU (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) took a hit to its morale at a crucial point of the season. The Cougars are entering their bye week coming off a tough loss in which they produced a season-low scoring total.
“There’s a lot of incentive left in this season to be motivated,” WSU safety Jordan Lee said. “Losing is never fun. I don’t think anybody in the locker room feels content. We have a lot to prove. I think we’ll come back swinging, for sure.”
The Cougars punted twice and turned the ball over on downs three times in the second half. They marched down the field early in the third quarter, scoring on a 9-yard toss to running back Jaylen Jenkins to cut the lead to 17-10. But WSU went stagnant on offense for the rest of the game as the Beavers pestered quarterback Cameron Ward.
OSU (5-2, 2-2) totaled six sacks – four in the second half. Ward was often scrambling for his life. He passed 25 of 54 for 345 yards with one TD and one interception. The Cougs netted 23 yards on 20 carries.
“They had some opportunities to tee off on us,” WSU coach Jake Dickert said. “Too many times, we were just getting pressured.”
Jenkins’ TD was the Cougars’ only score of the second half. On the ensuing possession, OSU running back Damien Martinez broke off a 50-yard carry to set up a short TD run from Jack Colletto. The Cougs advanced into OSU territory on their next possession, early in the fourth quarter, but outside receiver Donovan Ollie bobbled a pass – one of four drops by the Cougar receivers – which was intercepted by Beaver defensive back Ryan Cooper Jr.
The Cougars couldn’t kickstart their offense after that turnover. OSU’s defense controlled the pace of the game and the Beavers cruised to the finish.
“We couldn’t get much going offensively. That’s a credit to what they were doing,” Dickert said, “and you give up 220 rushing yards, you’re not going to win many games.”
Beaver ball-carriers churned through tackles and wore down WSU’s defense. OSU logged 203 net yards on 47 carries. Freshman quarterback Ben Gulbranson, making his second-career start, threw just eight passes in the second half. He finished 12 of 24 for 141 yards with a TD and one interception.
“We didn’t stop the run, so why would they have passed the ball?” WSU edge rusher Ron Stone Jr. said.
After going into the halftime locker room protecting a seven-point advantage, OSU opened up a 17-3 lead early in the third quarter with a methodical possession. Gulbranson slid left and fired a risky pass into double coverage in the end zone. Beaver receiver Anthony Gould went up for a highlight-reel, 17-yard touchdown catch.
For both offenses, the first half was messy. WSU netted just 1 yard on two first-quarter possessions. The Beavers mustered 14 total yards in the second period.
OSU opened the game with a 60-yard kick return and capitalized on field positioning, punching in a short touchdown with utility man Jack Colletto to cap the drive. The Cougar defense responded on the Beavs’ second drive.
WSU registered its first takeaway in three weeks. Edge rusher Andrew Edson popped Gulbranson in the backfield as he threw and caused the pass to float in the air. Coug free safety Sam Lockett came up with an easy interception. But WSU came out flat on offense and went three-and-out on its first two drives – the Cougs started on the OSU 41-yard line after the pick, yet didn’t gain a yard.
OSU used misdirection runs and play-action passes to catch the WSU defense off-guard during one of few efficient possessions in the first half. The Beavs went 72 yards on 12 plays late in the first quarter before fizzling in the red zone and settling for a short field goal to take a 10-0 lead.
The Cougs answered, shaking free from their offensive funk – but only for a short stretch. Ward completed passes of 25, 15, 14 and 13 yards before absorbing a drive-killing sack in the red zone. A 29-yard field goal cut OSU’s lead to 10-3 at the 9:20 mark of the second quarter.
Neither team could sustain possessions for the rest of the half. The Cougs and Beavs traded punts across the final six drives of the second quarter.