Turnovers key to victory, rest of season

What a great day to be a Beaver! During the week leading up to the game I wasn't terribly optimistic about going into Berkeley, but the silver lining I could see was if Oregon State could hold onto the football and limit turnovers, then they would have a shot. And then like so many teams this season, the Beavers pulled off a big upset.

Oregon State was out-rushed – 184 to 153 - and Cal produced more yards in the passing game – 294 to 186 – but the Beavers won the turnover battle - 3 to 1 - and in turn, the game.

Oregon State turned the ball over just once – on their first possession when wide receiver Darrell Catchings fumbled after catching a pass from Sean Canfield. After that, the Beavers did a great job of taking care of the football.

It was great to see head coach Mike Riley be aggressive in the second half. It goes without saying that this is the best our team has played start to finish throughout the entire season. For the first time in Pac-10 play this year, the Beavers scored more points in the second half than they did in the first half.

With a three-point victory, every play was important, but let me tell you three – other than the last play of the game – that standout to me.

At the end of the second quarter, Cal scored a touchdown with less than a minute to play to take their first lead of the game. Big play No. 1: the ensuing kickoff – Cal, for some reason, tried a short kick which allowed OSU to down the ball at their own with 37 seconds left in the half. Big play No. 2 - On 2nd and 15 Canfield throws an incomplete pass over the line of scrimmage but the referees miss the call keeping OSU within field goal range. Big play No. 3 - Serna hits his longest field goal of the year, a 52-yard field goal to bring the Beavers within one heading into halftime.

In hindsight, those plays were absolutely huge. Looking back at how the game turned out it is amazing how something that seems fairly insignificant at the time really can turn out to be huge.

Let this be a lesson to everybody, don’t take plays off, and don’t take plays for granted. Each play is important in its own way.

Lavelle Hawkins did torch the Beavers with 9 catches, 192 yards and two touchdowns, but I was impressed with the defense’s ability to control DeSean Jackson. He didn't have any game breaking plays, although I was fearful one was always right around the corner. Jackson finished with one run for 8 yards, four catches for 5 yards and one punt return for 12 yards. The Beaver D completely took him away. Big kudos goes out to Tim Clark in his first career start. He didn't back down from the receivers and almost picked off a pass while limiting the big plays for the most part.

Despite giving up 478 yards of total offense to Cal, I thought the Beaver defense played well. There was never a time during the game when I thought, “Man, we’re getting torched.” It is good to think that. OSU did a good job of putting pressure on first time starting quarterback Kevin Riley sacking him three times. The defense also added seven tackles for loss. Alan Darlin led the team with 14 tackles, six solo, and Greg Laybourn had 10, three solo. Al Afalava, who had a trio of nasty hits, and Joey LaRocque each had nine tackles a piece, seven solos for Afalava and six for LaRocque.

I’m going to give out a couple game balls again – first – head coach Mike Riley deserves a game ball for this one. Like I mentioned before he did a good job of opening things up in the second half. James Rodgers had a couple carries and those came just at the right time. He is an explosive player and each game he should have his own package of plays to get the ball in situations where he can succeed, the coaching staff did an excellent job with that this game.

The second game ball goes to Alexis Serna. Serna was 3-for-3 on field goals (22, 52, 33 yards) and 2-for-2 on extra points. He also had seven punts for 268 yards – 38.3 average, with a long of 47. He also had two downed inside the 20. Serna did a great job of not giving DeSean Jackson much to work with. The coverage team was superb as well.

So there you have it, for the second year in a row, the Beavers have defeated a top 5 team, but tn a way it is a bit frustrating. When you can beat a team like Cal – on the road – why can’t you take care of UCLA at home? Let's just hope that following a bye week the team shows up to play a solid game against Stanford Saturday, Oct. 27.

It has definitely been proven that on “Any Given Saturday” anything can happen in college football. I’ve seen some crazy things watching football, but this year is unlike anything I’ve seen. Hopefully the craziness continues… and who knows? Maybe it will culminate with an OSU upset of a highly ranked Oregon team on December 1?

But lets take it one game at a time for now. At 4-3, this team is still very much in the hunt for a bowl game. How good of a bowl game, who knows? But if the team can take care of the football like they did against Cal, the Men in Black can play with anyone.

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Jake Schubert is a new/old contributor to BeaverFootball.com. He writes for the Newport News-Times in Newport, Oregon and can be reached at sports@newportnewstimes.com. Jake has been to every home football at OSU for eight consecutive years and he is looking to make it nine this year.


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