James Rodgers raced 56 yards for a third-quarter touchdown. It was the Beavers' longest play from scrimmage this season.
USC’s on the horizon, so Oregon State makes sure to win big
CORVALLIS, Ore. » Hawaii was rolling.
The Warriors marched 73 yards in seven plays on their first possession yesterday to take a 7-0 lead on Oregon State.
"They were pretty fired up and we were on our heels," OSU coach Mike Riley said. "It was crucial that we respond in some way. Our response was really good."
What the Beavers did was shut out Hawaii the rest of the way. They limited the Warriors to 211 total yards in a 45-7 victory before the largest crowd, 45,059, to attend a nonconference game in Reser Stadium.
So what happened after that first drive?
"The coaches sat us and said 'calm down,'" said OSU safety Al Afalava, a senior from Kahuku High School. "We calmed down and started executing. After that (first Hawaii) drive we just started playing. From then on, things started going our way."
After that initial Hawaii drive, the Warriors added only 153 yards of offense over the final 55 minutes of the game. Five of their 14 first downs came on that initial possession.
Riley said that in preparing to defend "run-and-shoot offenses or spread teams, whatever you'd call Hawaii's offense, the hardest thing is simulating them in practice and getting a feel for how fast they are and the speed with which they play. The coaches adjusted well, the players tightened it down and got a better feel for how Hawaii did it after that first drive."
It was easily OSU's best defensive performance of the season. Stanford and Penn State had each rushed for more than 200 yards against the Beavers, and those two teams averaged 377.5 yards of total offense against them.
Holding Hawaii to slightly more than half of that total was particularly notable for the Beavers, who must prepare for USC next.
"It's what we needed to do," OSU middle linebacker Bryant Cornell said. "There's no doubt about it, there are questions about our defense, and there still are, but this was a step in the right direction."
Cornell was one of the many OSU players who made note of the need for a dominating performance with the top-ranked Trojans looming next.
"There couldn't be a doubt in this game," Cornell said. "We had to win big."
Cornell had one of the three interceptions by OSU defenders, each of which set up a scoring drive. Offensively, true freshman Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns, Lyle Moevao passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns and the Beavers finished with 485 yards of total offense.
"We had a lot of good plays out there even though there were quite a few we might have missed," Moevao said.
It was an all-around good performance for OSU.
The Beavers not only had their longest play from scrimmage this season -- a 56-yard touchdown throw from Moevao to James Rodgers on which the receiver juked one Warrior and bounced off another in breaking out of a jam -- but also their longest punt return of the season -- 43 yards by Sammie Stroughter -- and averaged 34 yards on two kickoff returns.
"I was pleased with how we played in a lot of ways," Riley said. "We had a little vision of who we'd like to be (offensively), what we want to do, how we'd like to see our team be, which is balance with running and throwing. Defensively I was really excited."
More important, the Beavers are no longer winless.
"The hard thing about losing is that doubt creeps in and you don't have that confidence you need to play another game," Riley said. "Without that success and confidence, it's hard to play well, especially as the season progresses.
"That's the hardest thing about coming out of a hole, you have no real confidence yet, because there's been no proof. It was nice to get a win because these guys know we can win, this 2008 team knows we can win games, this is what we have to do to do it."