Play of the game.
The Cougars were up 30-23 early in the fourth and Matt Moore had just thrown a pick in the end zone. The crowd was restless as thoughts of, "here we go again..." swam through their heads. Washington State had been killing the Beavers all day with a quick pass to one of the receivers on the flat. WSU ran it one too many times though as Sabby Piscitelli read the play, stepped in front of the pass and took his first interception of the year for a 23-yard touchdown.
"They were running those outs a couple times during the game and I was seeing how quick he was getting rid of the ball," Piscitelli said. "I showed my coverage late and just took off, read the quarterback well and made a good break on the ball."
Players of the game.
Offense - Matt Moore and Mike Hass. The chemistry between the two is remarkable and the connection was on full display on the game winning 63-yard touchdown. Moore rolled out of the pocket and sidestepped a flying Will Derting. Down field, Hass ran a short out route, but it was covered by three WSU players. Knowing that Derting was just seconds away from getting up, Moore calmly planted his feet and rocketed the ball down field to a streaking Hass. The ball was thrown perfectly as Hass caught it in stride for the go-ahead touchdown.
"Mike beat the coverage and I just kind of stutter-stepped (Derting) a little bit and got rid of the ball," Moore said. "That's just making plays, street ball out there."
Moore completed 20 of 45 passes for 296 yards and a TD with two interceptions. Hass had seven catches for 161 yards -- his ninth straight 100-yard game -- and a TD.
Defense - Sabby Piscitelli. In the week leading up to the WSU game Piscitelli challenged the secondary and the defensive line to play better. For one half the defense was MIA, but in the second they stepped up, especially Piscitelli, who returned an interception 23 yards to tie the game at 30. He also added eight tackles and one fumble recovery.
Special teams - Sam Paulescu. Sam "The Punter" put two punts inside the five yard line and finished the game with a 45.6 average.
Give me that pop.
One characteristic of the defense that has been missing this year is the pop when a Beaver defender tackles the opposition. Against Washington State, the thunder returned with some of the younger guys leading the charge. Linebacker Andy Darkins provided a tremendous spark off of the bench with his physical play and the same can be said for safety Al Afalava.
Darkins and Afalava's play reminded me of the Beaver defense's of the past that flew to the ball and played with reckless abandon. Look for Darkins to move into the starting lineup and Afalava's time on the field increase even more.
The Beavers faced first and ten from the Cougar 20 and needed to keep the clock running. They lined up in a goal line formation and ran a quarterback sneak. The offensive line demolished the Cougar defense as they pushed, slammed and threw them 10-yards back. Guard Jeremy Perry led the charge doing his human bulldozer impersonation. Perry was extremely excited as he raised his fists in celebration after the shellacking.
In game adjustments.
One of the complaints during Mike Riley's tenure has been the lack of in game adjustments, not so against Washington State. The defense blitzed more in the second half and rattling Alex Brink. The corners also played off their men which prevented the long ball. They also dropped the ends back into coverage which confused Brink as he threw a pass right to Jeff Van Orsow. It was Van Arson's first pick of his collegiate career.
The coaches were also not afraid to change personnel as Darkins, Afalava, Aaron Miller, and Rickey Herod all played significant roles. The defensive line was also kept fresh as Coker, Anderson, Smith and Siegert were rotated regularly.
The Pac-10 officials had a hay day with instant replay as they extended the game nearly an hour. There were at least four plays reviewed with none of them going in the favor of Oregon State. Two touchdowns were overturned (incorrectly) and a big gain by Anthony Wheat-Brown was negated late in the fourth (correctly). The PAC-10 should get rid of instant replay as it hurts the flow of the game and did not help the referees call a better game. If they want to keep instant replay a system should be put in place like the NFL's.
Redshirt Brandon Hughes started his first collegiate game Saturday replacing Gerard Lawson in the starting lineup. Hughes gave up several big plays just like his counterpart, but improved as the game progressed reacting to the ball and getting his hands up to deflect three passes. When Hughes needed a rest Aaron Miller took his place. Lawson still has not deflected a pass this season. Look for Hughes to start against Cal.
Keenan Lewis turned in one of the better games of his young career tallying 10 tackles, the first double digit performance of his career, while adding one forced fumble and three pass breakups. Lewis is improving week to week as he is tracking and reacting to the ball better.
After Washington State scored five touchdowns on its first six possessions while racking up 361 yards in the first half the Beaver defense buckled down for quarters three and four.
WSU's Jerome Harrison was held to just 21 yards after piling up 103 in the first two quarters and the Cougars failed to score a touchdown. The Beavers forced five turnovers, four of which were converted into touchdowns, that were largely due to the pressure applied to Brink.
A little bit of hustle.
With Washington State up 33-30 and time winding down Alex Brink found Michael Bumpus on a 12-yard pass play. Bumpus broke into the open and was streaking down the sidelines in what looked like a sure Cougar touchdown. Safety Al Afalava turned on the jets and caught up to Bumpus poking the ball out from behind. Sabby Piscitelli also turned on his jets, scooped the ball up and returned it to the 25-yard line. It was one of the craziest plays I have ever seen.
Three plays later, Moore found Hass for the game winning touchdown on another amazing play.
- S Lamar Herron hurt his left ankle in the second quarter. He had it wrapped
and tried to return but could not make it. Herron was having a solid game
on defense and special teams as WSU was forced to squib kicks to try and slow
him down. He is expected to be fully recovered for Cal.
- WR Mike Hass had his right thigh wrapped and was no at 100% in the second
half despite torching the WSU secondary. He is expected to be fully recovered
- C Kyle DeVan tweaked his knee again and struggled blocking in the first
half. At one point near the goalline he was pulled and Adam Speer came in
for a few snaps. But he manned up and fought through the pain turning in a
fine second half performance. He is also expected to be fully recovered for
- WR Anthony Wheat-Brown had two excellent catches, one in the middle of the
field and one on the sideline, on which he was absolutely unloaded on by the
defender. It is a wonder he didn't fumble after either hit.
- DE Jeff Van Orison. had his best game of the season as he tallied one interception,
four tackles and one sack.
- LB Trent Bray finished with 15 tackles and one pick. His interception snapped
Brink's streak of 94 straight pass attempts without an interception. Bray
has reached double figures in 10 of the last 15 games.
- S Sabby Piscitelli's interception for a touchdown was the first since Brandon Browner returned a pick 31 yards against USC in 2003.
- Since the LSU game in 2004 PK Alexis Serna has been outstanding hitting
28 of 32 field goals and 48 of 48 extra points.
- DT Ben Siegert turned in a superb game in the second half as he was credited
with three quarterback hurries and blew up the center and guard several times.
- DT Alvin Smith also made an impact as he double teamed for most of the game
freeing up his teammates.
- Snappers Aaron Carlson and Darrick Bruns both did a better job snapping
the ball this week as their snaps were cleaner and crisper.
- Coach Mike Riley evened his record at Oregon State to 26-26.
- The 59 passes by the Cougars was the most ever by a Beaver opponent. The
previous record was 56 by Arizona's Marc Reed in 1966.
- Kudos to the offensive line who gave up just one sack after yielding 19
in the first four contests.
- Oregon State has allowed 138 points and 1,666 yards in past three games.
- Brink threw for a school high 531 yards, a single game record against the
- OSU has outscored its opponents 66-10 in the fourth quarter but has given up over 23 points in one quarter, three straight games.