Beaver D authors another prime storyline

CORVALLIS -- On Saturday morning, preparing for their matchup with UW, Oregon State was just preparing as normal, slotted in the middle of the Pac-10 standings. A few hours later, after Stanford finished off USC with ease, and after OSU plowed over Washington, a door is seemingly swinging wide open for OSU and the Beaver Nation.

The Beavers find themselves in familiar territory -- just like last year they're in the hunt for a Pac-10 championship and a birth in their first Rose Bowl since 1965. The road from here will not be an easy one for Oregon State, however, as they must win out and Oregon remains on the schedule.

Sophomore running back Jacquizz Rodgers put in yet another electric performance Saturday, rushing 18 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. A good portion of his yardage came in the second half, and it was Rodgers' two-third quarter touchdowns that any thoughts UW had of a miraculous comeback away for good.

But even though Oregon State put up 48 points yesterday, the most they have all season, the main storyline wasn't about the offense.

Coming in, the Huskies' Jake Locker ranked near the top of the conference in numerous statistical categories. One of the keys to the game was for Oregon State to get to the junior QB early and often, with mistakes the planned result.

The Beavers defensive push got in the Locker's face early, sacking him three times and forcing an interception in the early going. Locker finished the first half completing 7-for-10 pass attempts but for just 39 yards. Oregon State's three sacks of Locker were the most in any half this season, they finished the game with four quarterback takedowns.

The defensive trio of SLB Keaton Kristick, WLB Keith Pankey and DE Matt LaGrone were a proverbial headache for the Huskies, they combined for 10 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble, recovered by freshman safety Jordan Poyer late in the game. The key turning point came on Washington's second possession.

Locker dropped back to pass, looked to his right and tried to fit it in. A lunging Kristick picked it off, his second interception of the season. Oregon State promptly took over inside the red zone, and OSU quarterback Sean Canfield connected with sophomore tight end Joe Halahuni for a three yard touchdown reception, his first of the year.

From that point on, the Beavers were in control. Canfield turned in yet another strong performance, completing 21 of his 29 pass attempts for 185 yards and four touchdowns.

Canfield is playing very close to error free football -- his touchdown to interception ratio the last five games is 10:1. He did fumble away a possession in garbage time after the Beavers had already sealed the deal. But he more than made up for it as he connected with seven different receivers in the game, and completed passes to the Brothers Rodgers nine times. And with the Beaver D surging, OSU looks like they'll be a hard team to beat.

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