CORVALLIS, Ore. – Senior Jordan Poyer became the first Oregon State player to intercept three passes in a game in almost nine years as the Beavers stymied Washington State on their way to a 19-6 victory Saturday afternoon at Reser Stadium in front of a school-record crowd of 46,579.
The win moves Oregon State to 4-0 (3-0 Pac-12) on the year, the first time it has started a season with four-straight wins since 2002 and only the fifth time in the last 73 years (1939, 1957, 2000, 2002).
Oregon State’s defense fed off of that home crowd in keeping the Cougars out of the end zone, forcing five turnovers and holding them to just 20 yards rushing on the day. Fifteen of those 20 yards came on a Carl Winston carry late in the fourth quarter. The last time OSU kept a team from scoring a touchdown in a game was against Pittsburgh in the 2008 Sun Bowl.
For much of the day, that type of defensive effort was necessary as Washington State matched the Beavers blow-for-blow. The Beavers marched the ball in the first quarter, racking up 107 yards of offense to WSU’s 22. The only score of the opening quarter, however, came on a Trevor Romaine 30-yard field goal on the Beavers’ opening possession.
The teams traded field goals in the second, with Romaine’s 24-yarder with 2:51 remaining pushing the Beavers into a 6-3 halftime advantage after the teams traded turnovers on three consecutive possessions within a two-minute span. Senior Rudolf Fifita recovered his first career fumble at the Washington State 34-yard line, but Mannion was picked off three plays later as lineman Ioane Gauta rumbled 38 yards on the return into OSU territory. But just two plays later, senior safety Anthony Watkins squashed the threat with an interception of his own.
Those two turnovers, combined with Poyer’s three picks, combined to give the Beavers five on the day. Poyer now has 10 career interceptions, leaving him just one away from cracking into the school’s top-10 list. He wasn’t the only star on defense, though. Sophomore defensive end Scott Crichton tallied three sacks, becoming the first Beaver to pull off that feat since Stephen Paea against UCLA on Oct. 31, 2009.
That lead expanded to double digits on the first possession of the second half as sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion connected with senior wide receiver Markus Wheaton on a 12-yard touchdown strike in the back corner of the end zone to make it 13-3. It was the Wheaton’s fourth touchdown catch of the season, tying a career high.
Washington State inched back into the game with a 32-yard Andrew Furney field goal on a drive severely aided by penalties. The Cougars accepted 30 yards worth of Beaver penalties on the 72-yard drive, coming on a personal foul and pass interference call.
With the game still plenty in doubt, the offense manufactured its most impressive drive of the day. Mannion was 4-for-7 including a pair of clutch completions to sophomore receiver Brandin Cooks in third-and-long situations. He found Cooks for 13 yards on a third-and-11 and later hit him for 12 more on a third-and-eight in Cougar territory. Three plays later, sophomore fullback Tyler Anderson plunged in from the 1-yard line to give the Beavers a 19-6 lead.
Poyer then sealed the game with his final interception on Washington State’s ensuing drive. He stepped in front of a receiver in the left flat and raced 50 yards before stumbling inside the Cougars’ 20-yard line.
Mannion finished the game 25-for-42 for 270 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He found seven different receivers with Wheaton leading the way racking up nine catches for 95 yards and the third-quarter score.
Crichton finished with four tackles, all for loss. Sophomore Dylan Wynn led the team with five tackles.