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Oregon State struggles, comes back, and still loses to Cal 45 to 31

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It was a must win situation, it was homecoming, it was a game that Riley promised would be a step up from last week's loss; and maybe it ended up a better performance (at times) with Mannion becoming the conference leader in all time passing yards, but it is all for naught as California defeats Oregon State 45 to 31 thus putting the Beavs into the Pac-12 North basement.

Sean Mannion becomes the Pac-12 passing yards all time leader, but it is not enough to get Oregon State the win
Sean Mannion becomes the Pac-12 passing yards all time leader, but it is not enough to get Oregon State the win
Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports

The first quarter started with Cal receiving the ball and then putting together a nice opening drive, highlighted by Jared Goff who threw for 10 out of the 12 plays.   It also featured two Cal 3rd and 10 conversions, one on defensive holding, but in the end Oregon State's defense held strong to force a 50 yard field goal attempt that drifted off to the left.

OSU Defense

The Beavs first possession is much more uneventful that culminates in a quick three and out.

Cal comes out running on their next drive and seem again to be driving, but again the Oregon State defense again holds and forces Goff into a pooch-punt that rolls into the end zone.  Again though, the Oregon State offense cannot make anything out their offensive possession, and after a false start helps contribute to another three and out the Beavs have to punt the ball away.

The good news on the second OSU offensive possession is Storm Woods back into the line up, and on his first carry goes for 9 yards.

Cal and OSU then exchange drives, and the Beavs finally get their first first down on a 21 yard Jordan Villamin reception, but nothing gives for either offense.

Daniel Lasco

The first score comes after a poor punt that gives Cal good field position and after a couple Daniel Lasco plays, including the above flying leap, the Golden Bears convert a 40 yard field goal to go up 3 to 0 at the 1:19 mark.

Storm Woods

Storm Woods again makes his presence welcomed as Woods cranks off a 49 yard rush to open the second quarter, above, which leads to a 3 yard Sean Mannioin to Rahmel Dockery touchdown pass play (Dockery's first OSU career TD reception), below.

Rahmel Dockery 1st TD

The Cal offense responds, with the help of a couple defensive penalties and a wide open Ryan Murphy interception drop, below, and drives the field for 14 yard Lasco TD run, and Cal goes back up 10 to 7.

Ryan Murphy

The Oregon State offense opens up a bit with Mannion getting the ball into Victor Bolden hands for a couple quick hits, and a Cal defensive interface call does slightly reverse the yellow-flag fortunes for the Beavs.  Mannion then rolls out for a nice 22 yard pass play to Bolden,below.

Victor Bolden

A couple plays later Terron Ward makes a nifty reverse cut for a 12 yard rush, taking the Beavs deep into Cal territory.  The drive then dies on a Villamin rookie drop in the end zone on a perfectly thrown ball by Mannion, below, but the Beavs even up the score at 10 a piece on a Trevor Romaine 30 yard field goal.

Jordan Villamin

The Beaver's defense kept up some nice pressure on Goff, but the QB is able to make big escapes on what looked to be turning point sack plays for the OSU defense.   It is enough to free up Lasko yet again, who scores on a 21 yard touchdown rush to give Cal a 17 to 10 lead at the 3:32 mark.

Daniel Lasco

Oregon State's offense comes out and  yet again goes three and out, highlighted by a disappointing 3rd and 3 play that goes backwards and gives the ball back to Cal.  A very nice Keith Kostol 50 yard punt and good coverage pins Cal deep at their own 15 yard line, but Cal is able to get the ball deep into the Beavs side of the field that all leads to a 25 yard field goal.  Oregon State does try to capture some momentum going into the half, but Mannion almost throws an interception that is reviewed as an incomplete pass. As time expired in the first half Cal is able to take a solid 20 to 10 lead going into the locker room.

The half started out slow with both offenses struggling a bit to find their full rhythm, but the second quarter did open up offensively for both teams.   Oregon State goes into their locker room with 183 total yards with 91 passing yards and 92 rushing yards.   Sean Mannion went 11 for 18 for 91 yards and 1 touchdown, the receivers were led by Victor Bolden with 63 yards on 6 receptions, and the rush game was led by Storm Woods with 77 yards on 7 carries.  On the other side of the ball the Cal Golden Bears go into half with 339 total yards with 158 passing yards and 181 rushing yards.  Cal was led by Jared Goff who threw for 158 yards on 13 for 30 and Daniel Lasco who ran for 127 yards on 18 carries.

The second quarter saw both offenses having their way with the other side's defenses and as such the big question was who would come out of halftime with the better adjustments.  This for Oregon State meant making the proper defensive adjustments against the surprising Cal success at the run game, and finding some spark on the offensive side of the ball.

Mannion and the offense came out in the third quarter looking again to be a bit of the same old, but Mannion is able to hit Villamin for the Beavs first 3rd down conversion of the game.  In another possible important play Mannion fumbled the ball during his throwing motion and is able to run it for 5 yards, but it is all for not as the 3rd down screen pass is completely botched and the Beavs have to punt away on 4th down and 3.

Jared Goff

For Cal and their adjustments it was to hold true to what was working in the first half, and they held true in getting Goff and Lasco involved in the offense right off the bat.  The Golden Bears offense drives the field on their opening possession to score on a Vic Enwere 19 yard rush, below, that then puts Oregon State down 17 points.

Vic Enwere

A good kickoff return by Malcolm Marable sets up the Beavs with some good field position, and Mannion, with the help of Jordan Villamin, is able to march the offense down the field for very important Mannion to Villamin 8 yard touchdown, below, to cut into the California lead.

Jordan Villamin TD

The Beavs defense bends and does not break on the next Cal possession, finally get a huge sack on Goff for the first time in the game.   This allows for great field position for the OSU offense, a drive that sees Mannion go back to work with fire and urgency leading to a momentum changing 17 yard Chris Brown touchdown run, below.

Chris Brown

The fire then returns to the OSU defense and homecoming crowd, and as the third quarter winds down the Cal offense feels the pressure backing themselves up again and allowing for the Beavs to start the fourth quarter with the ball and in fairly good field position.

On this Oregon State drive two important things occur: the first is that the Beavs convert some important plays to drive the field to take the lead on a Terron Ward touchdown run, for example Connor Hamlett's huge 3rd down conversion catch; and second is on that 15 yard Hamlett pass play, below, Sean Mannion becomes the Pac-12 all time leader in passing yards, breaking USC's Matt Barkley's (2009-12) number of 12,327 yards.

Sean Mannion Record Throw

But on another key turning point in the game, Cal comes back with patient play and is able to convert a couple of key first downs to get the ball back deep into Oregon State territory, and the Golden Bears are then able to score on a Goff 10 yard touchdown pass to Chris Harper to put Cal back up 34 to 31 at the 8:42 mark. It would ultimately prove to be the game winning score.

Chris Harper

When it looked like Oregon State could come back and respond, Mannion throws an ill-advised pass under pressure that is intercepted at the Oregon State 26 yard line by Caleb Coleman.

Caleb Coleman Interception

But the struggling Beavers defense does though step up to force Cal into only a 47 yard field goal by James Langford, and even though it does put Cal up 37 to 31 it still is a slight victory for the Oregon State defense in not letting the game get away (yet) from the Beavers.

But the Oregon State offense on a questionable 4th down attempt (questionable in going for it at that stage of the game, and questionable for calling a route that did not reach the first down marker) gives the ball back to Cal at around midfield with just over three minutes left in the game.  It was the perfect set up as Cal is able to drive again deep into Oregon State territory to clinch the game on a 15 yard touchdown run by Lasko to put the Golden Bears up 45 to 31 (Cal converted the 2-point conversion) .

In the end Oregon State is able to gain 468 total yards, 320 passing and 148 rushing.   Sean Mannion, who became the Pac-12 passing yards leader ends up with 320 yards on 30 for 45 attempts, Jordan Villamin (140 yards on 9 receptions) and Victor Bolden (119 yards on 11 receptions) led the receivers and Storm Woods rushed for 78 yards on 9 carries.   California ends up with 546 total yards, 277 passing and 269 rushing, with Goff throwing for 277 yards on 24 for 47 attempts.   The Golden Bears were led by Stephen Anderson with 117 yards on 9 receptions, and Daniel Lasco rushed for 188 yards on 30 carries.

It was there for Oregon State, they came back and retook the lead and the momentum in the fourth quarter.   The homecoming crowd was re-energized, the players were playing with attitude and confidence, and it looked like a possible season turning point was finally going to show through for this team.  But in the end the Beavs are now 1 and 4 in conference play and 4 and 4 overall.  Cal on the other hand gets their important fifth win of the season and goes 3 and 4 in conference play, and it was the Golden Bears who ended up keeping their foot to the pedal in a patient and ultimately season changing manner.

Cal Celebration

Cal's celebration is becoming a familiar scene at Reser, after the Beavers lost their 5th consecutive home conference contest.

It again was a story of how Oregon State cannot put together a fully competitive game on both sides of the ball.  The offense found some of itself, but not enough, and the defense struggled.  And now the Beavers have lost 9 of their last 10 conference games.  It is a season that is winding down and completely looks to be going nowhere good.  This season has had enough moments to turn the corner, but now as the clocks are falling back it looks like this Oregon State team will be following suit.  Time for this team, coaching staff, and program to dig deep and ask the hard questions of themselves as Washington State comes to Corvallis next Saturday. The Cougars will be without quarterback Connor Halliday, whose' WSU career came to a premature end in today's loss to USC, when he suffered a broken leg.

(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)