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Canzano: Don’t sleep on the Beavers — Oregon State woke late
OSU walks off with thrilling 28-27 win.
My jaw hit the floor late Saturday night. Bet yours did, too. I’ve watched the film a dozen times and I’m still not sure how Oregon State receiver Tre’Shaun Harrison caught the football or why Stanford’s defensive back didn’t.
Final: Beavers 28, Cardinal 27.
Beavs after dark?
“Take the wins as they come,” coach Jonathan Smith told me in the wee hours on Saturday night, “but a lot to improve on.”
Oregon State stunned Stanford and the rest of us in those final ridiculous seconds, but give the Beavers credit today. They kept playing. They found a way. Quarterback Ben Gulbranson fired his final pass of the evening up the right sideline, Harrison snatched the ball off the helmet of Cardinal defensive back Ethan Bonner, and raced 56 yards for the game-winning TD.
Stanford was stunned. Its student section, 13 seconds from the end of a nine-game conference losing streak, stood in disbelief as it digested loss No. 10. In the locker room after the game, OSU defensive back and captain Jaydon Grant went live on Instagram, capturing the celebration and speaking for his team.
“Grateful, grateful. Played terrible, pretty much, for three quarters,” he said amid shouts and cheers in the background. “Fourth quarter came together and pulled it out. That’s all you could ask for.”
OSU is 4-2 today. It won ugly on Saturday night, but the late Al Davis would have loved it. “Just win baby,” was his mantra with the Raiders. Maybe it’s “Just win Beavs,” for Smith and company.
Thrilling? Yup. Fortunate? Absolutely. But let’s not dismiss the Beavers win as “lucky.” Oregon State outgained Stanford 442-359. Gulbranson was 20 of 28 for 250 yards and two scores. The same OSU team that turned the ball over eight times in two previous games didn’t throw an interception or have a fumble.
That said — the Beavers sure looked beat until the final seconds, didn’t they?
The first three quarters were troubling. The playbook appeared limited. The defense gave up too many critical plays to Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee. The Cardinal had the OSU right where it wanted it, trailing 24-10 entering the fourth quarter. But something shifted in that final 15 minutes of play. Oregon State found a few things.
It’s zone run game, for one.
Gulbranson’s confidence, for sure.
The end zone, definitely.
Gulbranson’s 21-yard TD pass to Silas Bolden in the left corner of the end zone early in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty. He tossed the ball through a keyhole and Bolden snatched it, getting a foot down, somehow. That it happened on fourth down and 8 made the pass and catch feel downright ridiculous. Damian Martinez’s winding 43-yard TD run was terrific, too.
I’m certain the Beavers charter flight home was as as joyful as the locker room scene Grant captured after the game. Smith told me once that he’s never understood coaches who won’t let their teams celebrate. They must have whooped it up. But I’m left wondering if what we witnessed on Saturday night was a team ready to settle down and turn a corner.
What happened exactly at Stanford Stadium? Did Oregon State figure something out in the fourth? Did Gulbranson win the starting job? Or is he just keeping the seat warm for Chance Nolan? Will OSU string together multiple wins?
The next two games (Washington State and Colorado) are at Reser Stadium, where the Beavers have been very good. After that, it’s at Washington, home vs. Cal, and at Arizona State. None of them are gimmes, but no doubt, we’ve arrived at the most advantageous part of OSU’s schedule. Simply getting to six wins and being bowl eligible doesn’t seem good enough for this group.
Smith mentioned improvements. The quarterback play has to get better and more consistent. The OSU defense can’t give up cheap plays. The penalties (nine for 90 yards) need to be cleaned up, too. And the coaching staff has to be better. But in that final quarter on Saturday night, something magical happened.
The Beavers found a way to win.
Give them credit.
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