In the second half, things got serious, though it was the fourth quarter before the shootout started. UCLA's Kai Forbath connected on a field goal on UCLA's first drive after the break, but Oregon St.'s Justin Kahut came up just short, due to a delay of game penalty. The Bruins' special teams kept a lot of green turf in front of the Beavers, and it was early in the fourth quarter of the quickest moving game of the season before Kahut connected again, giving Beaver fans a false sense of security with ten minutes left, and a 16 point lead.
Then came the UCLA highlight tape. Bruin quarteback found Nelson Rosario, who made a spectacular leaping one handed catch over James Dockery, and turned and romped for a 58 yard touchdown.
Prince promptly found Rosario again, and the two point conversion cut the lead in half.
After the Bruin defense forced the Beavers into a 1-2-3 punt, a penalty for having 12 players on the field on the Bruins' punt set up the tieing score. Oregon St. Coach Mike Riley attributed the second of the games' two key special teams penalties (the other came when a fake punt play didn't get underway before the play clock ran out), to having two different punt return personnel groups mistakenly on the field at the same time.
We committed one of the biggest sins in football, having too many men on the field when we had gotten the ball back (after a UCLA punt).
It took a little while, as Stephen Paea got one of four sacks of Prince, which equaled the total the Beavers had accumulated all season.
The penalty disparity, where Oregon St. was flagged 10 times, to only two on the Bruins, was partially due to Beaver mistakes, and its hard to make sinister assumptions, considering the crew chief was from Portland, and has both Rose Bowl and championship games on his resume, but perhaps the tieing score should have been more difficult.
It's easy to criticize Pac-10 officiating, but it appears there may possibly have been holding on the right side, which would have made for a longer touchdown throw to Taylor Embree, who out-jumped Tim Clark.
The Beavers still led by two points, but Prince found Jonah Franklin for the two point conversion, and it was game on!
It appears there may have been a block in the back that went undetected on the game tieing play.
Oregon St. quarterback Sean Canfield got the chance he didn't against USC though, and got the chance for a game winning drive, sparked by James Rodgers' 27 yard kickoff return.
Jacquizz Rodgers picked up 22 yards on a run,
...and Joe Halahuni had a 15 yard catch,
...setting up James Rodgers' sweep,
for the game winning touchdown that put Oregon St. up 26-19.
UCLA did drive again, putting themselves in scoring position, and the center of the secondary was targeted. This may have been an over-adjustment, considering the defensive breakdowns in some prior games, most notably at UNLV, were due to the center of the secondary being deep to guard against the big play, and opposition offenses repeatedly attacked underneath the coverage.
On the last three Bruin drives, there were several situations where the Beaver safeties were either missing, or so far up they were left with poor pursuit angles. Considering that UCLA, ranked 104th. in the nation in rushing, had not mounted a major rushing threat all day, gaining only 51 net yards, and that the only thing that could truly hurt Oregon St. were big plays deep, it was a puzzling defensive deployment.
However, the game ended with Prince unable to get the ball to his open primary receiver, due to pressure from the Beavers pass rush.
Despite a showery morning, the challenges from the Bruins, too many penalties, and the smallest crowd of the last two years (only 41,009 showed for a game they couldn't watch live on TV, much to the surprise and chagrin of Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis, who though he had all the makings for a sellout), it was still a pretty good day to be a Beaver. Que the Fight Song!
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)