A defining end game moment – in first quarter

CALL IT A turning point, a game changer. Call it the play where you knew the game was over – call it whatever you want. But in Oregon State's 35-7 win over Cal, you didn't have to wait long. Before the first quarter would end, one play in particular told you everything you needed to know about what was to come.

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No, not talking about the first offensive series of the game for Cal, although for Oregon State (4-3,3-1), that too merits special mention.

That first series was when Cal RB Shane Vereen, who came in leading the Pac-10 in touchdowns (13), was stuffed for no gain. Later, on third-and-long, Cal quarterback Kevin Riley was sacked by Kevin Frahm, with Stephen Paea ready to clean up after him.

A sack? D-line heat? By the Beavers?

Well, welcome back, old friend.

It was the first of five, yes five, sacks on the day for the OSU stop corps. Their inclusion to the box score helped limit Cal to under 1 yard per attempted rush -- a stunning total, particularly for a Cal team who the week before had kicked the stuffing out of ASU to the tune of 50-17.

The quintet of OSU sacks, they helped restore luster to a D that had been looked upon heading into the game as the weak link.

Frahm's sack, forcing a punt and setting up the Beavs in great field position – and from where OSU would proceed to march down the field and take an early 7-0 lead – was huge. But that's not when this game was over.

THAT DEFINING MOMENT came during, believe it or not, an extra point.

Oregon State took a 14-0 lead on Jacquizz Rodgers' 2-yard run, capping an 8-play 76 yard drive. It was OSU's second 8-play drive to the house -- and 1:36 still remained in the first quarter.

On the point after touchdown, a Cal defender began jogging off the field -- before OSU kicker Justin Kahut made contact with the pigskin.

That was when this game was decided. Over. Finished.

It's not that it's rare to see players go half speed on extra points, it happens quite a bit. But to start moving off the field before it was even kicked, such a concession was not a small thing. And it told Oregon State everything they needed to know about where Cal was, mentally, right then and there.

Cal had been up and down all year. And although they were coming off a high point against ASU, a team's ability to bounce back and respond to adversity is chipped away at with every "bad" or "letdown" type of loss.

After OSU on Saturday stuffed the ball down their throats, twice, with time still left in the first quarter, that was that.

OSU would go on to forge a 28-0 lead at the half. On the Beavs' opening drive of the third quarter, they swiftly built the margin to 35-0. And there would be no letting Cal back in.

Eventually, the Beavers lost their shutout, Cal would find the end zone in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter. But Oregon State had defeated Cal a long time before that.

On an extra point, of all things.

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