A loss full of lament for Beavs

SEAN CANFIELD PLAYED brilliantly. And the increased use of Beaver tight ends in the passing game was, against the speedy Trojans, well conceived indeed. But missed tackles and a lack of timely pressure proved critical. Penalties, missed opportunities and lapses in the secondary, they all added to the lament of a 42-36 loss to the Trojans in Los Angeles.

There would be no early Beaver dominance this time, unlike the two most recent OSU wins against Troy. There would, however, be a spirited Beaver comeback. But it would fall just short.

The Beavs were playing from behind all night. They probably shouldn't have been.

Missed early opportunities -- the Beavs went deep in USC territory on four first half occasions but could muster only nine points -- killed OSU's chances. And this despite Sean Canfield making all the right moves.

THE OREGON STATE secondary started off well early too -- a leaping interception by James Dockery gave OSU a spark trailing 7-3. But additional highlights from Beaver defensive backs were few in the game's midsection. USC made several key connections throughout, many of the third-down and chain-moving variety.

The secondary wasn't alone in that failing. The Beaver defensive line and linebackers simply did not get enough consistent heat on USC QB Matt Barkley. It's hard in the Pac-10 to cover talented pass catchers when the quarterback can take his sweet time.

Just as devastating, when Oregon State did get there with the rush, they missed tackles that could have made for momentum changing sacks. The same held true on some big USC runs -- the first man missed and USC ran and ran after those misses.

MEANWHILE, OSU COULDN'T get their ground game going in the first half. Jacquizz Rodgers and the offensive line were ineffective in the first quarter. And then Quizz missed the second quarter after tweaking an ankle.

That left it to Canfield, and he shined. Pressure packed throws. Third down conversions. On target and making the right decisions, the senior quarterback kept it a ball game.

And even when it seemed all but over early in the fourth quarter, he damned near brought them back. Joe Halahuni was his favorite target, with nine catches for 127 yards.

It was an exact match for Halahuni's season stats to date thought six games.

CANFIELD ON THE night threw for three second half touchdowns. He was 19-for-28 for 183 yards in the first half -- and even more accurate over the final 30 minutes (11-for-15). He finished with 329 passing yards and no picks, and the Beaver offense outgained USC 482 total yards to 429.

Quizz returned in the second half and for a while in the third quarter, and then again in the fourth, it looked like last year's upset Beaver win. OSU's o-line suddenly opened large holes, and Quizz dashed through and made more yards of his own. He finished with over 100 yards rushing. But the Beavs just couldn't stop USC in the fourth quarter.

Hope's end came on a 63-yard punt return less than a minute into the final quarter. It gave the Trojans a 19-point lead but the true backbreaker came in the series before. Oregon State had then forced a third and long but USC again escaped a sack and, able to get a receiver on a linebacker, converted. The very next play, USC ran off tackle into the end zone. Another missed Beaver tackle punctuated the play.

Oregon State couldn't move the chains after that, setting up the USC punt return that seemed to all but decide it. Oregon State wasn't quite ready to concede defeat, however. Jordan Poyer returned the kickoff 70 yards and Canfield hit James Rodgers to close the gap to 42-30.

Lance Mitchell's brilliant interception stopped USC and Canfield led OSU on a 75-yard drive, with Halahuni by air and Quizz by land churning up nearly all of the yardage. Quizz' one-yard plunge trimmed the lead to 42-36 with 5:41 remaining.

But USC ran out the clock, converting two third downs along the way.

AND A LOSS was made harder to take because of the mistakes and lost opportunities that came along the way. The Beavs will bounce back. So will their fans. But this one will sting tonight.

Halahuni nearly undid his best catch and run of the night, a 35-yarder, when he fumbled the ball inside the USC 10-yard line. But Quizz was there to jump into the pile and get it back. Even though Halahuni's miscue didn't hurt the Beavs, others did.

Keaton Kristick, arguably one of the best linebackers in the Pac-10, laid an obvious late hit on the quarterback in the first quarter. It ended up nullifying a David Pa'aluhi III interception deep in enemy territory. James Rodgers lost a fumble that set up the Trojans' with a short field and their first touchdown. Damola Adeniji, who had a number of critical catches, was flagged often on the night for holding. The Beaver secondary, although they picked off two passes, were more often burned in coverage and a few of the defensive backs committed their share of missed tackles.

Missed opportunities against a Top 10 team usually result in a loss. Even when the quarterback is razor sharp.

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