Mistake-prone OSU blown away in windy Vegas

THE TEMPEST BLOWING through Sam Boyd Stadium, with gusts to around 45 mph, was nothing compared to the discord surrounding Oregon State in the first half. The sheer volume of penalties, missed tackles and mistakes by the orange and black were hard to fathom. And, in the 44-20 loss to No. 14 BYU, even harder to stomach.

OSU actually started well in this game. Stephen Paea and Brennan Olander had two early monster plays, tackling BYU running backs for consecutive five yard losses. OSU, with the wind and a short field, then took it in on their second possession for a 7-0 lead. Jacquizz Rodgers and James Rodgers ripped off huge chunks of green and Sean Canfield snuck it in to put the Beavs on the board.

But after that, it was all BYU. Or more accurately, it was all BYU -- with a strong helping hand from Oregon State -- to the jangled tune of 37 unanswered points.

THE BEAVS EXTENDED BYU drives with penalties. Quizz couldn't corral a backwards screen pass (that was on the money) that BYU scooped up and took into the end zone. Missed tackles, and allowing BYU good yards after contact, were all over the place. And it didn't stop there.

Johnny Hekker's first punt went straight up and once the wind got it, backwards. Inexplicably, he kicked it high the next time into the wind, too. The o-line was getting beat and making mistakes. And while they would have been pretty tough grabs, TE Joe Halahuni makes tough grabs -- that's what he does. Not on this night, as two would be receptions that could have been big, a chain mover and a TD, fell incomplete.

Meanwhile, Canfield, who has looked downright impervious to any and all adversity this year, looked highly uncomfortable trying to throw in the adverse conditions. It all added up to an ugly looking 23-7 deficit with time winding down in the half.

OSU GOT A a little something going when Damola Adeniji and Halahuni made nice grabs to move the chains. And then Quizz offered a ray of hope when he turned in the run of the night -- a twisting, turning, switchback run good for 29 yards. After almost going down, Quizz somehow skipped off another 15 yards. At one point, still off-balance, he nevertheless put on another stop-and-go move to make one more guy miss.

That run stole even the wind's breath away.

But the drive came up empty when the Beavs, facing fourth-and-nine from the BYU 25-yard line, saw Canfield's pass batted down at the line. Such were the winds in Las Vegas tonight that a would-be 42-yarder, normally an automatic decision by Mike Riley to attempt the field goal, just wasn't an option.

THE BEAVS TRIED a fake punt on their opening possession of the second half. It wasn't a bad idea, but the result was disastrous. Hekker, a former prep quarterback, hit Lance Mitchell and if he could have stayed upright, it was wide open. But the ball was a little low, Mitchell lost his footing trying to turn upfield before straightening back up, and it was just one more lost opportunity.

And even if it had gone for a big play, the officials had flagged OSU for an illegal shift. And therein lied the story on this night for the Beavs.

INDEED, AFTER THE fake, with Mitchell lying flat on the ground and the play over, a BYU player dragged his leg and gave Mitchell a tap on his helmet. It wasn't the most egregious thing you'll see, but on a night when the officials were calling it tight, it was surprising they missed that one.

Later the officials missed a BYU leg whip, a late hit out of bounds and a helmet spear. But it would be a major stretch to try and argue it affected the game's outcome.

What those missed calls signified most was how it just..wasn't.. the.. Beavers'.. night.

BYU took over on the OSU 33-yard line after the failed punt and converted three third downs, the last a third and goal from the 18-yard line with the middle wide open to go up 30-7.

And that was far too big a hole to climb out of for OSU on this wind-swept night.

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