The Oregon State Beavers didn’t make it look pretty, but in a season where wins may be hard to come by a 34-30 win over the San Diego State Aztacs puts the Beavers one game closer and half-way to being bowl eligible.
[gn_quote style=”1″]”It was just one of those nights where we weren’t as good as we could have been, but we kept fighting,” head coach Mike Riley said, “and we found a way to win.”[/gn_quote]
After battling back-and-forth all night, and trailing 30-21 with less than three minutes remaining, a 10-yard touchdown pass from Sean Mannion to backup running back Terron Ward cut the deficit down to just two points. Ward was replacing starter Storm Woods who is still recovering from a concussion suffered against Utah last week.
Instead of going with an onside kick, Riley trusted his defense to hold strong with 2:40 remaining down two points. And he made the right choice as the ensuing play resulted in a 16-yard Steven Nelson pick-6 to give the Beavers the win.
Watching the game was former Beaver great and current Philadelphia Eagles corer Jordan Poyer. Poyer has been a mentor to Nelson who has four interceptions on the season, an average of one per game.
“He encouraged me, got my mind right,” Nelson said. “He told me I’m a real good athlete, that he sees it in me, I just need to trust myself. When I started listening to that, I started playing better.”
Also with another dominant performance was Beavers wide out Brandin Cooks who finished the game with 14 receptions for 141 yards (10.1 YPC) including a long of 46 yards. Cooks is now up to 639 yards on the season (159.8 YPG) and closing in on the Oregon State record books.
Fortunately for the Beavers, they have a light schedule over the next month before a gauntlet to conclude the regular season. Oregon State will host the re-building, but much improved, Colorado Buffaloes next weekend. From there the Beavers will have an off week before back-to-back road tests against Washington State and Cal.
Looking at those three games, the Beavers will need at least two wins if they have any hopes of making a bowl game. Oregon State finishes its season with No. 5 Stanford, USC, Arizona State, No. 16 Washington and close out with the Civil War against the No. 2 Oregon Ducks. Finding one win in that list is a daunting task.