CIVIL WAR: Inside the game

THERE WAS WAY too much that happened in this doozy of a game between Oregon State and Oregon to call this an "At a glance" piece. Oregon State opened up the contest with a drive that ended in a Sean Mannion interception. And it was the first of many things to come that will be debated and talked about for a long, long time.

Rolling the dice that early was a call that left the small contingent of Beaver die-hards in attendance scratching their heads wondering what had been more questionable -- going for it on fourth-and-one on the first drive of the game instead of kicking a field goal from the Ducks' 27-yard line, Mannion's decision to throw it deep to Cooks in double coverage in the back of the end zone or the coaching staff's decision not to run it right at a Duck front seven that had been giving away rushing yards early on.

Junior linebacker D.J. Alexander sent orange hopes soaring for a moment on the next drive when he forced a Marcus Mariota fumble on a botched passing attempt, but a facemask penalty on Alexander voided the muff, and Oregon ran the ball in on the very next play with De'Anthony Thomas for five yards and a score.

After opening up their second drive of the evening with a 33-yard prayer that magically landed in the mitts of sophomore tight end Caleb Smith, further efforts to put points on the board were stymied, both by a holding penalty on Sean Harlow and a sack on Mannion, leading to a Keith Kostol punt.

Holding penalties would not stop the Ducks from putting up six points with ease on the very next set of downs – it took Mariota and the Ducks just 3:09 and nine plays to hoof it 85 yards down field and take a 14-0 lead over the Beavs with just seven seconds remaining in the first quarter.

At that point, it felt ominous. Oregon State had actually done well on offense but couldn't finish. Over on D, the same held true except for on third downs.

Oregon State's next drive went nowhere fast, and junior punter Keith Kostol was called upon to send one flying down the field. And this is where it all turned.

A lofty punt was fumbled by Duck Braylon Addison, who immediately was decked like the halls on Christmas by safety Ryan Murphy. And Murphy then recovered the very same fumble, and things were looking up until…

Mannion and Co. stalled and ended up sending senior kicker Trevor Romaine out to try and add three to the board for the Beavs. Romaine's short attempt sailed wide right, but a running into the kicker penalty turned fourth-and-six into fourth-and-one, and Riley put on his "go for it" hat for the second time on Friday night.

This time they got the first down on a pass to Cooks. From the 10-yard line, three tough runs later from Storm Woods scored Oregon State's first touchdown of the night.

That TD sparked a fire under the Beavers defense, which came out gunning for Duck QB Marcus Mariota and RB Thomas Tyner.

Oregon struggled to maintain the tempo but then Mariota sent a deep 44-yard bomb to Huff to put the Ducks back in the red zone. But the OSU stop corps stopped the Ducks from punching it in from short range, the last tackle a smothering stop by D.J. Alexander, and UO settled for a field goal launched the Ducks 10 points ahead of the Beavs with 6:39 remaining in the first half. It would be something the Ducks would regret.

Oregon State seemed a heartbeat from punching it in but again settled for a Romaine try and this time he made it.

Mariota's first pass of the next drive was picked off by Steven Nelson, and OSU was on the Oregon 32-yard line with control of the ball and the clock. Seconds later, Mannion connected with Cooks for 31-yards to the goal line… or so we thought.

After further official review of the play, Cooks' grab was fumbled right before he hit the turf, and since the ball was in the end zone as it touched a player who was laying out-of-bounds, Oregon State relinquished the ball on a touchback to Oregon. It was a potentially dismantling reversal of possession, but the Beaver's defense bounced back with a solid defensive stand that ended with cornerback Rashaad Reynolds' pick return for 25 yards.

A handful of plays later, OSU punched it in for a score on a six yard pitch-and-catch from Mannion to Ward. It was tied 17-17, and anyone's game.

After a 47-yard boot from Romaine eked through the uprights, OSU was up by three and the ferocious roar at Autzen was calmed to an octave above a gentle purr.

With the exception of a Josh Huff grab for a TD and Romaine's field goal, the third quarter was a veritable boxing match between struggling offenses and bullish defenses. Both teams surged and fell back, and the quarter seemed to crawl by.

The Ducks were roasted by the OSU defense early in the fourth quarter, and Oregon State took advantage on a 4-yard pass to junior fullback Tyler Anderson to give the Beavs their second lead of the game with just over 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

A late score by Victor Bolden on fly sweep pushed OSU to a 35-30 edge, but there was too much time left on the clock and Oregon needed only about a minute of it with three timeouts. Mannion and Cooks tried to move the ball down the turf and into field goal range, but couldn't. It was a great game, but still counted as just as much of a loss as any.


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