No joy for Beavs at Stanford

OREGON STATE HAD the first two downs figured out, they just couldn't shut the door on third. Lyle Moevao threw for three TDs, Victor Butler served early notice he could be a Pac-10 defensive force and Sammie Stroughter topped the century mark in receiving. But the offense settled for field goals twice, an INT proved disastrous and the defense continued a fall camp trend -- giving up the big play.

But the Beavs -- improbably -- still had a chance with under two minutes remaining. Indeed, 47-yards and a two-point conversion separated them from deadlocking the score and forcing overtime.

Marching towards paydirt, in a heartbreaking ending for Beaver fans, Darrell Catchings stretched for the end zone but lost the purchase on the ball a yard from the goal line. The ball went into the end zone before taking a sideways turn and Stanford took over on their own 20-yard line with 47 ticks left on the clock.

Game over.

But it wasn't the ending that decided this one -- it was the issues on defense that loomed largest for the Beavs.

The Beavs surrendered but 301 total yards on defense. That's five yards less than their average from last year, when they led the nation in run defense and ranked No. 8 in the country in total D.

But OSU had problems with bruising Cardinal running back Tony Gerhart all night long -- particularly on third and long in the 36-28 loss. On more than one occasion, the Cardinal pulled off improbable third and long conversions and doing it on the ground, grabbing the second half momentum and not letting go until late in the final moments.

How tough was it in run defense for the Beavs? Stanford ripped off more than 200 yards on the ground. The Beavs held Stanford to 91 passing yards.

Lyle Moevao played well for much of the game, but was less sharp as the night wore on. Moevao was white hot at the end of the second half, going 7-of-9 on a picture perfect scoring drive in the Beavs' two-minute offense to knot the score at 17-17 at the break.

But a mistake, a pick-6 inside the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter, effectively put the game out of reach at 36-20. Prior to that, an off target backwards pass resulted in a safety that seemed to turn the deciding momentum in Stanford's favor.

The offensive line played fairly well in spurts but did not have a good night in pass protection, allowing defensive pressure on too many occasions, and that proved pivotal in money time. The run blocking also, at times, left something to be desired.

Still, the o-line started two players in Alex Linnenkohl and Mike Remmers who had never taken a college snap. And the line's top player, Andy Levitre was injured in the latter stages of the game. And still the Beavs mounted an almost miraculous comeback at the end.

Shane Morales had a huge night, with a game leading 13 grabs and 151 receiving yards. The slot receiver was instrumental in the Beavs comeback bid.

Sammie Stroughter ended his night with 157 receiving yards on 12 receptions and added to his already impressive collection of highlight reel grabs. James Rodgers moved the chains on the fly sweep, and had a big kickoff return, but on a drive that went for naught. He ended with 247 all-purpose yards.

Brandon Hughes lived up to the praise Mike Riley bestowed upon him in fall camp, with a number of big hits and textbook plays in coverage.

And Victor Butler came up big. The d-end was credited with six tackles, two for loss, 0.5 sacks and one QB hurry but the line doesn't give an accurate picture of his play. Bryant Cornell led the Beavs with 11 tackles.

But in the final analysis, the front seven on the defense couldn't consistently get the big stop, nor when the Beavs needed it most.

Jacquizz Rodgers was the Beavs leading rusher, with 55 yards on 14 carries. Starter Ryan McCants played sparingly, with four carries for 14 hashes.

The Beavs travel to Penn State next Saturday.

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