Courtesy: Oregon State Sports Information
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Redshirt freshman running back Storm Woods rushed for a career-high three touchdowns and the Oregon State defense forced four crucial turnovers on the way to a 21-7 victory over Utah in Saturday night’s Homecoming game at Reser Stadium. Oregon State is now 6-0 for the first time in 105 years. The 1907 team finished that campaign with an undefeated 6-0 record.
Last week against BYU, quarterback Cody Vaz came out on fire as the Beavers’ offense set the tone for the game early on. This week, the defense took the leading role in staking the Beavers to a 14-0 lead.
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson overthrew DeVonte Christopher across the middle, and the pass was intercepted by Michael Doctor at the Utah 35-yard line and returned 19 yards with 2:02 left in the first quarter. It was Doctor’s third career interception, with his last coming against Stanford’s Andrew Luck last November. Vaz hit tight endConnor Hamlett for 12 yards to the Utah 4 and Woods went off right tackle two plays later from a yard out to open the scoring.
On Utah’s ensuing possession, Wilson was hit by Rudolf Fifita as he rolled left, jarring the ball loose. Dylan Wynn jumped on the fumble at the Utah 10-yard line, and two plays later, Woods plunged in from two yards out to make it 14-0 with 14:27 remaining in the half. Though the Beavers were outgained 175-98 in the first half, they benefited from the takeaways as their two scoring drives combined to cover just 26 yards.
Still just a sophomore, Wynn has had a knack for playing takeaway. The fumble recovery was the sixth of his career, just two shy of tying the school record in that category (Osia Lewis, 1982-85).
Utah responded two drives later with a 10-play, 88-yard drive capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Jake Murphy to make it 14-7 with 6:00 to play in the second quarter. The score snapped the Beavers’ streak of not allowing a touchdown at home at 85 minutes and 31 seconds. Wisconsin punched one in with 1:31 to play in the season opener.
Utah did have an opportunity to jump ahead first. Wilson hit a 35-yard pass to Luke Matthews on the Utes’ first play from scrimmage, but Coleman Peterson missed a 43-yard field goal after the drive stalled in OSU territory.
The Utes moved to the Beavers’ 3-yard line on their opening possession of the second half after a pass interference call. But after beating their heads against a brick wall for two plays, an attempt to get tricky backfired. Wilson’s pitch on a reverse to Christopher didn’t connect and Scott Crichton recovered at the OSU 10-yard line.
The missed opportunity would be the Utes’ best chance to tie the score. Instead, they finished with seven points to become the third team to come to Reser Stadium in 2012 without scoring double digits. The last time an Oregon State team held three opponents to under 10 points at home was 2000.
The Beavers added an insurance score in the fourth quarter. After taking an illegal block below the waist penalty to push the ball back to the 19, Vaz hooked up with Kevin Cummings to make up the 25 yards for an OSU first down. Later on the drive, Cummings made his second catch on a third down that was short of the lead stick, but a helmet-to-helmet foul on the Utes gave the Beavers a fresh set of downs at the Utah 26. Vaz found Wheaton on the next play to the 2-yard line, and then Woods went in off the right side for the third time to push it to 21-7.
Sean Martin sealed the win with his first career interception late. It gives the Beavers 12 interceptions on the season. They had 11 all of last year. It’s the second time in three weeks OSU has forced at least four turnovers in a game. They forced five against Washington State two weeks ago.
The Beavers are 4-0 in conference play for the first time since the opening season of the Pac-8 in 1968. They’ll look to move to 5-0 in conference and 7-0 overall next Saturday night at Washington. Kickoff against the Huskies is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.