"We just need to finish the whole game. It's frustrating we didn't make the plays to win the dang game," Akey said after the disheartening defeat that saw the Cougars squander a 17-point lead, breakout performances by linebacker Steve Dildine and Don Turner, and a record-shattering day of offense.
Junior cornerback Don Turner prevented one OSU score with a brilliantly defensed play in the endzone and then later made a one-handed interception in the endzone to stop another Beaver threat.
Quarterback Alex Brink, who broke Drew Bledsoe's single-game record for air yards but also fired four second-half interceptions, took responsibility for "poor decision making," while tight end Troy Bienemann pointed the finger at himself for slipping on Brink's final misfire and running the wrong route on another.
Don Turner, questionable to play due to back spasms, made some key plays including
a one-handed interception in
the fourth. "It's not necessarily the best team
that's going to win," he said. "It depends on which team shows up."
Jerome Harrison, who registered yet another 100-plus-yard day running the ball, took no prisoners in his post-game assessment. "We beat ourselves. We showed in the first half we're a great team. It's very frustrating. I don't think they could play with us. They may have had more points, but they didn't beat us at all. We beat ourselves. We're going to fix it up in practice this week. That's not going to happen again. We're going to take it out on Stanford (next week's opponent)."
There were lots of turning points in the game, but none was perhaps as big as Cougar junior receiver Jason Hill leaving the game with a thigh injury early in the third quarter. Up to that point, he had been shredding the OSU secondary, to the tune of eight catches for 190 yards and a TD.
"Losing Hill really hurt us," said head coach Bill Doba said. "It took away the deep threat. I don't want to use that as an excuse. We had opportunities to make plays, and we just didn't do it."
"Jason is a playmaker," Brink said. "Losing him affects the game."
It was not immediately known what Hill's status is for the Stanford game. Linebacker Will Derting went down in the closing minutes of the game with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. It was unknown afterwards how serious the injury might be. Cornerback Alex Teems also went out in the fourth with a sprained right shoulder.