Washington upsets Oregon State, 20-17

By Warner Strausbaugh

Washington upsets Oregon State, 20-17

SEATTLE — After a historic 6-0 start to the 2012 season, the Beavers finally came undone.

A combination of sloppy offensive play, too many turnovers and the Huskies executing right when they needed to, led to a 20-17 loss for Oregon State (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) in Seattle Saturday night.

The perfect season is now over, and by all accounts, the Beavers let that game slip right through their fingers.

“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, that’s what it really was,” said sophomore wide receiver Brandin Cooks. “I feel like they weren’t stopping us, we were just doing little things to stop ourselves. That’s what this game was about.”

Those mistakes were the turnovers OSU committed throughout the course of the game. In particular, sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion threw four interceptions in his first game back since having knee surgery two weeks ago.

“That’s no excuse,” Mannion said when asked if he was too rusty after missing two games.

The high volume of interceptions — Mannion now has seven in the last two games after only throwing one in the first three — could be a product of Mannion trying to force passes.

“Obviously I want to make good plays, but I think I’ve also got to know when to live with a throw-away or we can even just punt and change field position,” Mannion said.

With just over eight minutes remaining in the game, Head Coach Mike Riley opted to pull Mannion in favor of Cody Vaz — who started the last two games with Mannion sidelined.

“I thought Sean had struggled a little bit in there, and I thought it would be a great time to let Cody play,” Riley said. “We know he can play. He went in and did what he can do and made some plays, and that was good for us — almost gave us a chance to win.”

Yanking the quarterback in the fourth quarter of a close game could set up for an interesting week of practice. Riley confidently placed Mannion back in the lineup last week.

“I support Cody and our team 100 percent, no matter the circumstance,” Mannion said. “I know that’s their call to make. Would I have liked to play? Obviously. But at the same time, I know it’s about the team and it’s not about me.”

The issue of who starts this week will likely be addressed at Monday’s practice, but Vaz — who went 7-for-11 for 97 yards and the game-tying touchdown — has definitely made a case for himself.

“We won’t have any talk about that tonight,” Riley said, in response to questions about who will start.

Even though OSU gained 134 more yards of offense, the Huskies (4-4, 2-3) only had one turnover compared to Oregon State’s four, making all of the difference. Aside from not creating a lot of turnovers, the Beavers’ defense played well for the fourth straight game.

“We played our hearts out,” said sophomore defensive end Scott Crichton. “But unfortunately, everything went their way. It was a good win for them.”

An area OSU has played phenomenally this season has been its run defense. The Beavers ranked fifth in the nation going into Saturday’s game. They still kept the Huskies to 99 yards rushing, but some key runs by Washington running back Bishop Sankey proved to be costly for OSU. Crichton responds to how successful Washington was running the ball.

“Yeah, I was a little surprised,” Crichton said. “I knew they were good running the ball, but I just had a lot of confidence in our defense.”

Execution on Washington’s end in crucial moments was what had the Huskies on the winning end of a game decided by a field goal.

Washington’s offense got the ball in a tie game with 4:58 remaining and methodically drove down the field all the way to OSU’s 12-yard line to put in the game-winning field goal with a minute and a half left.

“They ran some perfect routes to counter our coverages,” said senior cornerback Jordan Poyer. “Just little mistakes here and there that we made that were big.”

All in all, the game ended, Washington fans rushed the field, and the Beavers’ hopes for a perfect season fell to the ground like Vaz’s incomplete pass to Kevin Cummings on 4th-and-19 at the end of the game.

“They just outplayed us, out-physicalled us and we’re going to look at the tape tomorrow and learn from it,” Poyer said.

“We’ve just got to forget about it,” Crichton added.

Washington was one of only three wins for the Beavers last year, but this year the Huskies ended up playing spoiler to OSU’s undefeated season.

“Very disappointing, very hard,” Riley said. “The key deal now is our reaction to it and where we go from here.”

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