Oregon State fought USC to a defensive standstill, but offensive miscues eventually cost the Beavers a very winnable game, as the Trojans prevailed 17-14 in Reser Stadium. The Beavers first loss of the season drops them to 3-1, and 0-1 in Pac-12 play, while the seventh ranked Trojans stay undefeated at 4-0, and 2-0 in conference.
USC got the ball first, and a 36 yard run from Travis Dye got them into OSU territory right away. The Trojans looked like they might blow the game open early, but the Oregon State defense clamped down, forcing a turnover on downs at the OSU 42 yard line.
The Beavers didn’t manage much in their first possession. After a Chance Nolan run got Oregon State into Trojan territory, the drive stalled out and the Beavers punted. Travis Dye continued to be a threat once USC got the ball back, putting up 34 yards on a drive that the Trojans deep into Oregon State territory. The Beaver defense then once again stepped up, stopping USC in the red zone to force a 35 yard field goal attempt that was no good.
A 30 yard Nolan completion to Jack Colletto looked like it would spark the OSU offense, but then the drive appeared to stall out. With fourth and four to go on the USC 44, the Beavers decided to go for it. Nolan completed a huge, 24 yard pass to Anthony Gould to get the Beavers another set of downs as the first quarter ended, still scoreless.
It didn’t take long to get some numbers on the board, as the Beavers capped off their drive with a 4 yard Deshaun Fenwick run for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. The noise at Reser Stadium was starting to get to the Trojans at this point. They were forced to burn all three timeouts early, and after getting to midfield on the next drive, a delay of game penalty put them in a hole and forced them to punt.
After a false start put the Beavers on their own 10, Jam Griffin got the Beavers out of, well, a jam with back to back runs of 11 and 21 yards. Unfortunately, Oregon State’s would run out of luck as a Chance Nolan bomb intended for Tyjon Lindsey was intercepted at the USC 34 by Eric Gentry.
With a bit of momentum, and another big play from Travis Dye, the Trojans got the ball into Beaver territory. The Reser crowd continued to have an effect, contributing to a false start and another delay of game that eventually stalled out the drive, with USC settling for a field goal to cut the Beaver lead to 7-3.
That would be the score at the half, as neither team could do much with the time left on the clock. The Beavers got the ball first in the third quarter, but couldn’t get deep into USC territory. They elected to punt from the Trojan 40, pinning USC at their own 1 yard line.
It looked like it would be a good series for the OSU defense, especially after a Travis Dye fumble, but USC recovered when Caleb Williams completed a 17 yard pass to give them some breathing room. The Trojans started moving the ball up the field, getting into scoring territory before Kitan Oladapo picked up the Beavers first sack of the night to push USC back to midfield and force a punt.
The good news didn’t last for Oregon State. After being hurried in the pocket, Chance Nolan tried to force a play and was picked off for the second time tonight, this time by Ceyair Wright. That gave USC excellent field position, with the Trojans getting to the OSU 15 before the third quarter ended.
At the start of the fourth, Travis Dye finally got USC their first touchdown of the day with a 7 yard run, giving the Trojans a 10-7 lead. When the Beavers got the ball back, USC’s pass rush started giving OSU’s offensive line more trouble, forcing Nolan into rushed and scrambled scenarios more often. Oregon State still managed to move the ball, getting down to the USC 23 before a Delay of Game penalty set them back, and Everett Hayes missed a 46 yard field goal.
The Beavers D forced a quick three and out, giving Nolan and the offense another shot. They did not deliver. Nolan tried to take the lead back immediately, throwing a home run bomb from the Oregon State 47 to the USC 2 that was picked off by Mekhi Blackmon. That was Nolan’s third pick of the night.
Oregon State once again needed the defense to come up big, and boy did they. With USC pinned at their own 2, the Beavers gave them no room to breathe, forcing a three and out and a tight punting situation. Anthony Gould returned a 33 yard punt to the USC 22, and the Beavers put the ball in the hottest hands of the night, Jam Griffin’s. Griffin ran 4 yards to the USC 18, and then 18 yards to the USC end zone, giving the Beavs a 14-10 lead.
The Trojans got the ball back with 4:30 minutes to go, and their offense immediately kicked into a higher gear. The OSU defense forced a fourth down near midfield, but the Trojans converted and continued to move down the field. The drive ended with a Caleb Williams touchdown pass to Jordan Addison from the OSU 21. USC held a 17-14 lead with 1:13 left in the game.
Oregon State had a chance, but they’d need Nolan and the offense to move quickly. They managed to get to the OSU 46, but on 3rd and 10 Nolan threw his fourth interception of the night, giving USC the win.
It’s not going to get much easier for the Beavers next week, when they travel to Salt Lake City to take on 13th ranked Utah. Still, the defense looked excellent tonight, and if the offense can sort itself out they should be able to give the Utes plenty of trouble.