The lead changed hands 4 times in the 4th quarter, and twice in the final two minutes of the game, but it was Oregon that struck last, on a Marcus Mariota to Josh Huff 12 yard touchdown with 29 seconds left.
The Beavs came out ready to run and marched down the field against the Ducks, displaying a run game that they had struggled for the entire season. They came up short though, and when they had a fourth down in Duck territory Sean Mannion launched a deep pass to Brandin Cooks into double coverage, which resulted in a pick, below, by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
It was an interesting play, since the Beavs had only one yard to go and the run game had been going, Riley might have been better off just running the ball. After that the game went as expected, with Oregon successfully running the ball, despite playing without starting running back Byron Marshall, moving them up to a 14-0 lead, first on a De'Anthony Thomas 5 yard run, and then after another Oregon St. drive stalled after a sack of Mannion, on Thomas Tyner's 13 yard touchdown run. Tyner would lead the Ducks on the ground, with 140 yards, the first 100 yard game of his collegiate career, and the 1 score, on 22 carries.
At the opening of the quarter it looked as if it would be more of the same, but Bralon Addison muffed the punt and Ryan Murphy took it out of his hands. Oregon State would struggle to move the ball still, but after a missed field goal an Oregon player ran into Trevor Romaine which set up for a Beaver first down toss to Cooks. The running game would convert the rest of the way for a Beaver touchdown, capped by Storm Woods' 2 yard run, below.
Oregon would come down the field only to be stymied at the goal line by the Beaver defense. OSU would answer with a field goal of their own, and on the ensuing possession for Oregon, Mariota would throw a pick way behind his intended receiver, snagged by Steven Nelson.
But Cooks would subsequently fumble out of the end zone for a touchback. Mariota threw another pick on the next possession, this one by Rashaad Reynolds, and this time the Beavers would drive down the field for a touchdown, when Mannion found Terron Ward uncovered in the left corner, below, leaving the game tied at 17 at the half.
Oregon started by coming up short on fourth down in their own end, but OSU was held to a field goal. The Ducks answered with a touchdown drive, almost completely on the back of Mariota, who was getting pushed out of the pocket but still managing to earn first downs, including one 3rd down conversion that he earned on the ground.
That brought the score to a 24-20 Duck lead, on Huff's first touchdown catch of the game, a 28 yarder where Huff got behind both Oregon St. safeties. The Beavs would drive to the goal line, but a Terron Ward screen could not convert for third down and then tripped on fourth. The Beaver defense would hold though, and they drove down to the Oregon red zone where the quarter ended.
Oregon State would open with a field goal , and the Oregon offense would drive down the field with several big plays, but Mariota missed an open receiver for a touchdown and then Matt Wogan shanked a 43 yard field goal, keeping the deficit to one point.
The Beavs managed to drive down the field though, running well and throwing to convert one long third down, eventually getting into the end zone with a 4 yard touchdown pass from Mannion to Tyler Anderson, above, the Beavs would fail the two point conversion despite getting two cracks at it. The Ducks ripped down the field on the ground and through the air and were bailed out with a lucky bounce on a fumble to Mariota, and after getting stopped in the red zone the Ducks went for it on fourth down, and managed to convert on a Mariota throw to Huff into an extremely tight window, bringing the score to 29-30.
The Beavs drove down the field and scored a touchdown on a Victor Bolden fly sweep, above, but the two point conversion failed again and it set up for a climactic finish featuring the Oregon offense versus the Beaver defense. The Ducks would score with 29 seconds left, on Huff's catch, leaving one last chance for the Beavs to get in range, with the score at 36-35 after the failed two point conversion. The Beavers could not convert however though as the lateral on fourth down fell short.
Huff, above, had a game high 186 yards on his 9 catches, and 3 touchdowns.
This one hurts, the Beavs played a good game almost good enough to win. It almost makes it worse. In the end the Ducks made just enough plays to win.
Mannion played his best game of this late season push, completing 29 of 47 passes, for 314 yards, and the 2 touchdowns.
Cooks, above, set the Pac-12 single season record for receptions, with a game high 10 grabs, moving him 2 past USC's Marqise Lee, for 110 yards, but he still sits roughly 50 yards shy of the single season yards record.
The Beavs played hard, but in the end the same errors that had plagued Oregon State all year came back. The coverage was poor, there was little to no pressure, but the run game finally showed up.
Ward, above, posted Oregon St.'s first 100 yard night of the season, with a game high 145 yards on 17 carries. Pity it was only for the last game of the year.
Oregon finished the regular season 10-2, and 7-2 in the conference, with the Alamo or Holiday Bowls their likely next stop.
Oregon St.'s 5th consecutive loss left the Beavers at 6-6, and 4-5 in the Pac-12. They will be competing with Washington St., and possibly Arizona, should the 'Cats drop the Territorial Cup tomorrow night, for the New Mexico Bowl (at best), and the rest of the country for a couple of at large bowl bids, as the Pac-12 had 9 bowl eligible teams and only 7 bowl tie-ins.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)