EL PASO, Texas (AP)—Oregon State coach Mike Riley was set to take his chances in overtime at the Sun Bowl.
Then Missouri called timeout to have Joe Newton’s 14-yard touchdown catch with 22.1 seconds to go reviewed, believing he may have bobbled the ball. During that break, Riley decided to go for the win.
Yvenson Bernard barely pushed into the end zone on the gutsy 2-point conversion run, giving the 24th-ranked Beavers a 39-38 victory over the Tigers on Friday.
“Like in a card game at the end, we were all-in,” Riley said. “We put all of our chips on the table. These guys made it happen.”
The Beavers (10-4) trailed by 14 points with 12:08 to go before rallying for their eighth victory in nine games. Bernard’s 7-yard reception had cut the gap to seven with 6:02 to go, and Riley said the senior running back lobbied the hardest to go for two at the end.
“I was telling him, ‘Let’s go for it,”’ Bernard said. “I definitely wanted to do it.”
Tony Temple had 194 yards, four short of the Sun Bowl record, on 20 carries with two touchdowns and Chase Daniel threw two touchdown passes for Missouri (8-5). The Tigers lost four of their last five after a 6-0 start, dropping the finale despite 561 yards of total offense.
Temple missed setting a Sun Bowl record for rushing, 197 yards by Charles Alexander of LSU in 1977, after losing 4 yards on his final carry.
“A lot of positive things,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “Obviously, the locker room is a tough place to be right now.”
It was no surprise to Daniel that Oregon State decided to go for broke. He was on the phone with quarterbacks coach Dave Yost talking strategy for what Missouri might do if the Beavers scored.
“It’s bowl season, what do you have to lose?” said Daniel, who averaged 20 yards per completion, going 16-for-29 for 330 yards. “I just had a feeling they were going to go for two.”
Matt Moore threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth for Oregon State, which helped produce the second-highest scoring game in the Sun Bowl’s 73-year history. He was 5-for-7 for 55 yards on the winning drive, set up after Sammie Stroughter’s 38-yard punt return to the Oregon State 46.
Missouri had seven plays of 29 yards or longer, including Danario Alexander’s 74-yard touchdown catch and Temple’s 65-yard run. Missouri responded after Newton’s first touchdown catch on Oregon State’s opening drive of the second half cut the Tigers’ lead to 21-17.
Tommie Saunders’ 29-yard TD catch from tight end Chase Coffman off a lateral gave the lead back to Missouri and Temple’s 65-yard untouched touchdown run seemingly put the Tigers in control at 31-21 with 5:58 in the third.
The victory was the latest in a series of nail-biters for Oregon State, which beat Hawaii and Oregon by a combined five points in the last two regular-season games. The Beavers’ biggest triumph after a 2-3 start that had fans calling for Riley to be fired was a 33-31 stunner over then-No. 3 Southern California on Oct. 28.
“It’s just a pretty typical Beaver win,” Riley said.
Missouri was on the other end of a big bowl comeback last year, rallying behind quarterback Brad Smith from a 21-point deficit to beat South Carolina 38-31 in the Independence Bowl.
Moore was 31-for-54 for 356 yards and set a school record of 182 passes without an interception before getting picked off by Brandon Massey in the third quarter. Oregon State retained possession on the play after Massey was stripped.
“To finish like this, that doesn’t happen every day,” Moore said. “Ten wins doesn’t happen every day.
“It’s a great way to end it.”
Oregon State prevailed despite a porous defense that allowed 98 points the last three games. Among Missouri’s other big plays were a 40-yard catch by Coffman that led to Temple’s 7-yard scoring run on the opening drive. A 47-yard run by Temple was followed by an 18-yard touchdown pass from Daniel to Coffman on the next play for a 38-24 lead with 12:08 left in the game.
Newton also caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and had six receptions for 74 yards.