Beavs drop double overtime heartbreaker

IT WAS LIKE getting kicked in the stomach again and again. And that was just the first quarter. The battle between the Beavs and Huskies was seemingly won and lost, by both teams, too many times to count. Mike Riley made his stand at the end of the second overtime. Make the 2-point conversion, and it's smiles all around. Miss it, and all the hard work previous goes for naught in an instant.

Mike Riley had been here before. In 1998, the Beavs went for two and the win against the UW in Seattle… and lost 35-34. History repeated itself on Saturday night in Montlake, by the exact same score.

Ryan Katz' final pass was on target but a UW linebacker looked to get a fingernail on it, just enough for the pigskin to wobble out of the grasp of Joe Halahuni.

"Bitterly disappointing," said Riley after the game.

And how. Placekicker Justin Kahut had missed two PATs the week before in the win over Arizona. He was in a slump. And so Riley gambled. And lost.

AN OUT OF SYNC Oregon State (3-3, 2-1) squad spotted Washington 21 points, and the amped-up Huskies (3-3, 2-1) threatened to turn it into a laugher. But then Jacquizz Rodgers and the offensive line started getting down to business.

And the defense began to stop UW closer to the line of scrimmage.

And Ryan Katz, while never approaching the exalted zone he visited a week ago, started to find the range.

AND THEN THE Beavs were rolling, from the last 10 minutes of the first half and straight into the third quarter. Twenty-one unanswered points to match the UW's. And driving again, threatening to take the lead.

Quizz has dropped onlookers' jaws before but in the second and third quarters, he was really tearing it up.

Even his moves had moves.

AND OSU LOOKED in control of the game, poised to take the lead and to keep on marching along. It felt inevitable. And then it didn't.

Katz, in a near carbon copy interception from the week prior against Arizona, tried to float one into the end zone, this time on third and goal from the 13 yard line. It was his third pick of the night, and it changed the tenor of the game. No field goal attempt. Drive over. And unlike the week before, Katz didn't bounce back. And Quizz, puzzlingly, was put on the back burner for a time.

OSU showed some flashes after that, but following the pick they never again quite seized and sustained the moment. They had owned the third quarter and come all the way back, but they couldn't quite get over the summit and running downhill on the other side.

AFTER THEY settled down, Oregon State's D turned back the Huskies time and time again – the UW didn't score from the 10:06 mark of the second quarter until the game moved into overtime. But OSU had to give up 21 points before they found that rhythm. And that's just too large a hole.

Opponents are focusing more and more on exploiting the Beaver corners in coverage. Now, on some of the more damaging plays by the UW, including the Huskies' five touchdown passes all told, you simply have to tip your hat, they were well executed. But others plainly illustrate Beaver problems that need to be fixed.

Whether true sophomore CB Jordan Poyer is ready to see his playing time elevated remains to be seen – that can only be decided by coaches viewing game tape of the back 40 along with close scrutiny in practice. But on at least one play Saturday night, he looked All-Pac-10, beating the UW receiver to the ball on a comeback route and picking it clean. That led to more Quizz and OSU tightened it up to 21-14 before halftime.

GIVE THE BEAVS some credit, though. Yes, they lost, but they came back from the dead more times than Lazarus. Battling back from 21 points down on the road, that was just a start.

Two of the more notable plays included DE Dominic Glover, a blur off the edge on the play, punching the ball out of Jake Locker's grasp with the Huskies on the march late in the game. And then on third and 17 in the second overtime, trailing by a touchdown, it felt ominous, right? Wrong. An extended Jordan Bishop snagged a Katz rocket for a first down leading to OSU's final touchdown.

Alas, that was OSU's last shot, having been followed by the 2-point gamble that backfired.

Offensively, the Beavs missed James Rodgers, and the threat of James Rodgers, something awful on Saturday. When OSU is out of sync, when things just aren't quite there, Quon had a way of helping the Beavs find their stride better than just about anyone.

The challenge going forward for Oregon State is to find consistent ways to fill (at least some of) the hole left by Rodgers' season ending knee injury.

Maybe it's by committee, week by week. Or maybe the answer is that one or more of the playmakers step up big the rest of the way and become a true go-to guy the way Quon had been for the Beavers.

Aaron Nichols. Joe Halahuni. Markus Wheaton. Jordan Bishop. Geno Munoz. Both possibilities, it would certainly seem, have several worthy candidates.

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