Beaver blocks were poetry in win over Cal

IN THE END, Jacquizz and James Rodgers starred in yards, as they have all season. And while the Beaver D had more missed tackles than at any time this season, those deficiencies were more than counterbalanced by a run-stuffing, sack-happy stop corps. But what shouldn't be lost in the shuffle is how the Beavs -- particularly the receivers and tight ends -- blocked. One play in particular stood out.

With the Beavs up 20-14 midway through the third quarter, Stroughter fumbled the transfer on a double reverse before corralling the pigskin.

Normally such discord in the timing on a reverse spells trouble. Instead, four things then unfolded in rapid fashion, much to the delight of the sellout throng at Reser.

Quarterback Lyle Moevao picked off one would-be tackler, and then came back to screen him again for good measure, just as Stroughter was making his approach to gain the corner.

Shane Morales drilled a Cal defenseman who had a clear path at Stroughter -- and a second Bear, trailing the play, flipped ass over teakettle as Morales' momentum carried him into his pursuit angle.

And then Jacquizz Rodgers simply decaffeinated Cal's starting strong safety -- he had the angle on Stroughter but as Quizz' proved, a bit too tunnel-visioned on his quarry.

As for Stroughter, he turned on the jets for a 21 yard gain plus another 15 tacked on for a late hit.

And that doesn't even take into account the offensive line's blocking on the play -- the hosses walling off Cal from getting to Stroughter as he lost his purchase and gave ground -- nor that left tackle Andy Levitre was later well downfield, running interference of his own on Stroughter's dash.

SATURDAY'S OUTCOME remained in question until the end but on the second play following Stroughter's reverse, James Rodgers came flying around end on a fly sweep, slid back across through the Bear pursuit and crossed the goal line on an 18-yard touchdown run.

And on that play, Stroughter blasted a Cal defender on yet another wall-off block, with a second pursuing Bear getting tangled in the detritus, while tight end Howard Croom ran the interference that sprung Quan for the final few yards to paydirt.

The Beavs led 27-14 -- a margin that would prove too great for Cal to overcome.

THEY DON'T SHOW up on the stat sheet. Television coverage more often than not doesn't offer a clean shot of them. But receiver and tight end blocking is usually the difference between a 5-yard gain and the game changers.

And when the runner in question has the speed of Stroughter, or the stop-go talent of Quizz, or the gliding ability of James Rodgers, they are rendered all the more decisive -- that little bit of extra production in the downfield blocks, that extra half beat before a defender can shed the offensive player.

A RECEIVER IS judged on his catches and his drops. A running back, by his yards. Nothing is going to change that, nor should it.

But blocking is such an important part of a receiver's, tight end's and sometimes a running back's game -- yet it escapes notice and goes wanting more often than not.

It's the the what.

And on Saturday, that downfield blocking by the Beavs -- and a defense that allowed Cal but 232 total yards on offense -- made for the big difference in Oregon State's 34-21 triumph. And other wins this season have been keyed in their critical moments by the downfield production of the Beavers, many of the most visible by James Rodgers.

And if the Beaver receivers and tight ends, and on occasion running backs, perform at the same high level in executing their blocks the next two Saturdays against Arizona and Oregon, well, then it's awfully hard not to envision Oregon State headed back to Pasadena for a date with destiny on Jan. 1.

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