Inside the Game: Oregon State 38, Stanford 28

Undefeated in conference play through its first three games and on the verge of breaking into the AP Top-25 poll for the first time in years, the Stanford football team and its supporters were dreaming big dreams...

Talk of a possible Rose Bowl berth and a Heisman Trophy for star running back Toby Gerhart grew louder with each passing week and each subsequent Cardinal victory.

But only 30 minutes into Stanford's 38-28 loss to Oregon State, all that seemed farfetched, to say the least.

In large part due to the performances of Oregon State brothers James and Jacquizz Rodgers, the Beavers jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead and never looked back.

"We stressed it all week that the Rodgers brothers were not going to be easy to get down and that were going to have to get low, wrap up, and gang tackle," Stanford safety Bo McNally said.

Judging by the Rodgers brothers' gaudy stat lines, that didn't happen. The elder Rodgers, James, caught six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown and Jacquizz gained an astounding 271 yards from scrimmage.

In all, the Beavers racked up 463 yards of total offense, scored points on all five of their first half possessions and looked unstoppable for most of the game.

"I think this was a case of our defense not playing the way we should have," McNally said. That's mainly just not tackling the way we should have."

The first of several instances in which Stanford's tackling problems were exposed came on only Oregon State's second offensive play from scrimmage. Jacquizz Rodgers lined up as the quarterback in the wildcat formation and scampered 61 yards down to the Stanford 16 yard line, breaking several tackles in the process.

Stanford's defense didn't do a markedly better job at stopping Jacquizz out of normal formations either, though.

The 5'7" burner scorched Stanford's defense for 271 yards of total offense and scored four touchdowns.

"He was very effective getting around the perimeter, whether he was catching it out of the backfield or being able to jump two gaps to get outside," Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "That was breaking us down."

To make matters worse, Stanford's offense was unable to give its defense much rest for most of the first half.

Andrew Luck struggled early, completing only two of his nine first half pass attempts, and Stanford had to punt the ball away on four of its five first half drives.

"I just wasn't getting in rhythm and wasn't getting in stride and delivering the ball," Luck said.

Toby Gerhart was effective in somewhat limited duty, carrying the ball 20 times for 96 yards, but was unable to break any big runs or wear down the Beaver defense as the Cardinal went away from the power running game after getting down big early.

"When they jump on us early, we can't stick to what we do, which is run the ball," Gerhart said. "When we get away from that, then my day kind of goes down and I have to start doing other things like protect Luck, get some passes and help the team out in that way.

And after 30 minutes of play and only 109 yards of total offense, Stanford found itself down 31-7 going into the half. The 31 points were the most the Cardinal had given up in a single half since Stanford allowed 31 points in the second half of a 55-31 loss to Oregon.

Nevertheless, the Cardinal seemed to enter the second half with renewed energy and vigor. After forcing an Oregon State punt to begin the half the Cardinal marched right down the field on a nine-play drive punctuated by a seven-yard touchdown pass from Luck to tight end Jim Dray.

The defense appeared to keep the momentum going, forcing a three-and-out for the Beavers, only to see Oregon State's drive extended on a questionable roughing the kicker call on Mark Mueller.

"We felt like we had them stopped a couple of times and they kept drives going with those penalties," linebacker Clinton Snyder said.

Still, penalties happen, and the Cardinal defense was unable to stop the Beavers defense on that drive after the roughing penalty, as Jacquizz Rodgers scored his fourth touchdown of the game to cap off an 80-yard, 17-play drive giving the Beavers a 38-14 lead.

"You can never blame anything on penalties," Snyder said. "Penalties are part of the game so we have to come back from those."

Facing a 24-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Stanford did as well as could be reasonably expected in making the final score more respectable, but a pair of Gerhart touchdowns did nothing to change the game's final outcome.

"We didn't come out and execute," Gerhart said. "They're a pretty good team and we didn't do things right in the first half, and when you don't do things right at this level things can get away from you. We're just excited to get back to work and fix the things we did and get right back on pace where we were."

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