NOTES: "A good way for our seniors to go out"

WR SAMMIE STROUGHTER becomes just the third player in school history to record more than one 1,000 yard receiving seasons; DE Victor Butler and DE Slade Norris finish in the top 5 of OSU's career sack list; P Johnny Hekker averages 49.3 yards a punt in the fourth quarter. Plenty of more news and notes in's comprehensive post game notebook of the 75th Sun Bowl.

Pregame notes:

  • Pitt won the toss and deferred to the second half.  OSU defended the south endzone.

  • Pitt was the home team, OSU was the visiting team.

  • For the first time this year Oregon State wore orange tops with white bottoms, Pitt wore blue tops with blue bottoms; Oregon State's uniform choice resulted in the Beavers losing a timeout since they did not wear NCAA sanctioned road uniforms, which would be all-white.

  • Mountain West Conference officials called the game.
  • The game was nationally televised by CBS making 2008 the first time that Oregon State has had every game broadcast live.
  • The announced attendance with 49,037 - the fourth biggest crowd to watch an OSU game this season.

  • Temperature: 48 degrees, Wind: 9 SSE, Weather, Clear, 26% humidity


Series notes:

  • Oregon State evened the series to 1-1, Pitt won the previous matchup in the 2002 Insight Bowl.

  • OSU improved its record against the Big East to 6-8.


Offense notes:

  • The offense generated a season low 273 total yards of offense, 3.7 yards per play, 80 yards rushing 2,7 ypc, and 193 yards passing, 9.2 yards per completion, while converting 3 of 17 third downs (17.6%) - its worst third conversion percentage this season.
  • The offense was 0 for 2 in the redzone while holding onto the ball for 30 minutes 50 seconds.
  • The offense picked up 15 first downs, six by run and nine by pass, but picked up just one first down in the final 15 minutes of the game.
  • The Beavers lost just their sixth fumble this season when RB Ryan McCants fumbled on third play and his first carry of the game.
  • The offensive line gave up a season high five sacks or 31% of their regular season total.  Before the Sun Bowl the offensive line yielded just 16 sacks in the regular season.
  • RB Ryan McCants received his second career start, but once again played soft.  He fumbled on his first carry of the game and ran timidly.

    McCants finished with six carries for 23 yards and did not play in the second half.  He had four carries for 17 yards in the first quarter.
  • RB Jeremy Francis led the team in rushing with a career highs in carries (15) and yards (76).  His 19-yard run in the second quarter is the second highest of his career; he gained 57 of his 76 yards in the second half.

    "I was just prepared to play my role, but the plays kept coming," Francis said.  "I thank the coaches for that, I really do."

    Francis showed patience on the sweeps as he waited for his blockers to come around the corner while also displaying the ability to lower the shoulder and pick up extra yards when there was nowhere to run.

    In the previous 12 games Francis had 20 carries for 89 yards and one touchdown.

    Francis will not enroll for the winter term at OSU and instead return to Florida to take of his mother who is recovering from heart surgery.

    He plans on joining the team for spring camp and possibly taking online courses in the meantime.

    "I'm looking forward to coming back for the spring," Francis said.  "but if not, it was a great game, a great way to go out. I love all my Beaver teammates."

  • WR Sammie Stroughter led the team with six catches for 88 yards, 65 of the yards came in the first half, while adding two carries for 19 yards.  He finishes his career with with 164 receptions and 2,653 receiving yards, both good for third in OSU history.  His 14 career touchdown receptions puts him at seventh on OSU's career list.

    "We wanted a Pac-10 championship and the Rose Bowl," Stroughter said.  "That's always going to have a bad taste in our mouth - if it doesn't, you're not a competitor. You have to have that drive. But this was fun - a good way for our seniors to go out."

    He passed the 1,000-yard receiving mark (1,040) for the season for the second time in his career joining Mike Hass (three times) and James Newson (twice) as the only receivers in OSU history with more than one 1,000-yard season.

    Stroughter almost had his first passing touchdown of his career as he took a fly sweep, pulled up and launched a pass downfield to a wide open Darrell Catchings.  Unfortunately the wind got a hold of the pigskin as it sailed well over Catchings head.
  • WR Shane Morales caught fives passes for 79 yards giving him 54 catches for 743 yards, both good for second on the team, and a team high eight receiving touchdowns this year.

  • QB Lyle Moevao completed 21 of 42 passes for 193 yards and two interceptions.

    Moevao battled the wind and a couple of dropped passes in the first half and generally was inconsistent as Pitt did a nice job of bringing pressure.

    He drove his team into the redzone twice, but got zero points.

    "It was frustrating making it to the red zone and not getting any points," Moevao said.  "But with the way the defense was playing it didn't take much to win."

    The junior finished the season with a 59.3 completion percentage, which is second for an OSU single season. Matt Moore in 2006 had a 60.6 completion percentage.

    He has 19 touchdown passes this season, which is the fifth best single-season mark in OSU history.

  • WR Chris Johnson made his second career start (in place of James Rodgers) and tallied 3 catches for 21 yards giving him 6 receptions and 60 yards for the season.

  • WR Damola Adnenji received his first significant action of the year, but did not record any stats as he dropped the only pass thrown to him in the first half.

  • TE John Reese got a touchdown taken away from him late in the second quarter when he caught the ball in the endzone, got two feet down and then the ball was stripped.

    The referee had a bad angle and called it incomplete, the call was reviewed and the ruling on the field was kept. CBS' announcers thought it should have been a touchdown and so did Beaver Nation.


Defense notes:

  • The defense yielded just 178 total yards, 2.7 yards per play, 89 yards on the ground, 2.4 ypc, and 89 yards through the air, 9.9 yards per completion while Pitt converted 2 of 15 third downs and 0 of 1 fourth downs. Pitt averaged 356.2 yards and 29.2 points per game and had not scored less than 17 points all year long heading into the Sun Bowl.
  • Pitt picked up 10 first downs, six by run and four by pass.
  • The Beaver defense at one point forced six straight three and outs.
  • The Pitt quarterbacks completed only 9 of 28 passes (32%).
  • The defense allowed only five players of 10 yards or more.  Two of those plays came on Pitts final drive.
  • RB LeSean McCoy was limited to 85 yards on 24 carries, just 21 yards on nine carries in the second half, and zero touchdowns - he came into the game averaging 116.9 yards per game and was tied for the national lead in scoring at 10.5 points per game.
  • The Beaver defense pitched its first shutout since defeating Idaho 38-0 in 2006 in Reser and the first shutout on the road since the infamous 0-0 1983 Civil War in Eugene.

  • For this first time in his career DE Victor Butler led the team in tackles with 11 stops, including four sacks tying a school record for a game, while also adding four quarterback hurries, once forced fumble and one fumble recovery in a dominating performance.

    "Everyone went out and played great defense," Butler said.  "We talked a lot about redemption. After what happened against Oregon, we wanted to go out there and prove we are a great defense."

    His forced and recovered fumble with 11:12 to go in the fourth quarter halted a Pitt drive inside OSU territory.

    "I said I want to be the guy to make a play," Butler said.  "I didn't know if anybody was around to scoop it and we couldn't give them the ball there."

    Butler finished the season with 12.5 sacks for the season which ties him for second on OSU’s all-time season list.  It also gives him 25.5 career sacks which ranks second in OSU history. 

    The senior defensive end was chosen as the Jimmy Rogers Lineman of the Game.

  • DE Slade Norris sacked the Pitt quarterback on the final play of the game giving him 1.5 sacks for the game and 10.5 for the season which ranks sixth on OSU’s all-time season list.  It also gives him 19.0 career sacks which puts him at fourth on OSU's all time list.

    "We're a tough group and we can play smashmouth football," Norris said.  ""We just did what we do: Play fast, play through the whistle, everybody get to the ball. It was an outstanding team effort

  • DT Stephen Paea had a fantastic game as he slipped by offensive lineman several times and worked his way down the line to stop the ball carrier.

    He finished with just four tackles, but had a huge impact at disrupting the line of scrimmage and letting the linebackers and safeties make the tackles.
  • S Greg Laybourn was second on the team with eight tackles.  He finished the season with a team best 113 tackles.
  • S Austin Hall recoded five tackles in his final game.
  • LB Keaton Kristick tallied just five tackles, but was in on almost every tackle.  .

    The CBS commentators raved about the three starting Beaver linebackers comparing them to Ohio State's starters at one point.
  • LB Casey Noack had a career high five tackles, including one for loss.
  • MLB Bryant Cornell turned in a solid game with seven tackles, including one for loss.

  • CB Keenan Lewis picked off his fourth pass of the season on Pitt's second offensive play of the game. His four interceptions led OSU in 2008.

    Lewis cramped up with under a minute to go in the third quarter and missed most of the second half.

    He ended his career with 47 starts - the most on the current team and only the third player in school history to start more than 46 games.


Special teams notes:

  • P Johnny Hekker punted 10 times for a 45.0 yard average.

    Hekker got off several beautiful punts, into the wind and with the wind at his back, as he placed five of his 10 punts inside the 20.

    "Everyone blocked their butts off, and I had all day back there," Hekker said.  "The snaps were money. Everything was going right. Everybody did his job, not just me."

    In the fourth quarter he punted four times for a 49.3 yard average including a 57-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Pitt3.

    Hekker was awarded the John Folmer Special Teams Player of the Game trophy.

  • K Justin Kahut hit a 44-yard field goal with 2:18 left in the first half for the game's only points. He nailed it kicking on the laces.

    "I hit it pretty well," Kahut said.  "Kav had a little trouble putting it down, but I have so much faith in him, and he got it down perfectly."

    "Great blocking by our guys, too. The Panthers are known for blocking kicks, but our line did a great job holding them out."

    In the third quarter he missed a 37-yard kick just to the left.  Kahut finished the year 16 of 23 (69.5%).

  • LS Marcus Perry had a great open field touchdown saving tackle on a punt return early in the fourth quarter.


Miscellaneous notes:

  • A replay of the game will he televised Saturday, Jan. 3 at 4:00 PM PST on the CBS College Sports Network.
  • Coach Mike Riley is now 5-0 in bowl games at Oregon State and 8-0 in his career.
  • The Beavers five game bowl game winning streak is the longest in the Pac-10 and the second longest in the nation behind Utah who has won seven in a row.
  • Pitt was shutout was for the first time since 9.28.1996 when they lost at Miami (Fl) 45-0.  Pitt averaged a Big East best 29.5 points per game going into the Sun Bowl.
  • The 2008 Sun Bowl is the the lowest-scoring bowl game in which a team won since a 2-0 Fordham win over Missouri in the 1942 Sugar Bowl.
  • The 2008 Sun Bowl is the lowest-scoring bowl game since TCU and Air Force completed the 1959 Cotton Bowl 0-0.
  • The 2008 Sun Bowl is the lowest-scoring Sun Bowl since Catholic University and Arizona State finished the 1940 edition 0-0.
  • Neither team scored in the first quarter. It marked just the third time the Beavers and their opponent have gone into the second quarter with no score. The first came in the season opener at Stanford and the second in the Beavers’ final road game at Arizona.
  • The Beavers and Panthers combined for three first-half points, the least in a first half this season. Oregon State and UCLA went into halftime with a 3-3 tie on Nov. 8 and OSU and Arizona were tied at three as well. Both times Oregon State earned road victories.
  • The last time Oregon State won a game by a score of 3-0 was in 1967 when they beat No. 1 USC in Corvallis.
  • The game took 3 hours and 29 minutes to play.
  • The Beavers are 22-5 in games played after the month of September  and 14-3 in November and December in the last three years.
  • The Beavers brought 104 players on the trip and received a $1.9 million payday which goes towards expenses with the surplus being divided equally between Pac-10 teams.

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