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Oregon State rallies to defeat Arizona State

The SportsXchange

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- The Oregon State Beavers got big contributions from their backup quarterback and third-string running back to overcome a shaky start and get their mojo back in a 36-26 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday at Reser Stadium.

Quarterback Cody Vaz, making his third start of the season, threw for three touchdowns and Terron Ward, filling in for injured starter Storm Woods, had 146 yards rushing on 19 carries for the 11th-ranked Beavers (7-1, 5-1 Pac-12).

Oregon State fell behind early 14-3 but found its groove -- and hit for three touchdowns of 49 yards or longer -- to send the Sun Devils (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) to their third straight defeat.

A fumble on the third play of the game that became an Arizona State touchdown, and a blocked punt for a safety, were part of what Oregon State coach Mike Riley called "bad stuff."

"The key ingredient was that kids kept their composure on the sidelines and the coaches kept coaching," Riley said. "Nobody panicked or blinked. We got back into it with a lot of bad stuff happening."

The Oregon State defense, playing without injured star defensive back Jordan Poyer, held the Sun Devils scoreless for nearly all of the second half. Arizona State managed a late 77-yard, nine-play drive and scored on a Taylor Kelly-to-Marion Grice two-yard pass with 22 seconds left to cut into the final margin.

Markus Wheaton, who was knocked out of the Washington game a week ago, also had a big game for the Beavers. He caught four passes for 108 yards -- two of them for touchdowns -- and carried the ball three times for 57 yards. Teammate Brandin Cooks added 116 yards, including a wide-open 49-yard touchdown reception with 10:54 left in the game.

Vaz, starting in place of Sean Mannion, had a rough start but got into rhythm and finished 14-for-33 for 267 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. But he was also sacked six times by an Arizona State defensive line that Oregon State coach Mike Riley called "blitz crazy."

"We knew the quarterback was going to have to hang in there and make throws," Riley said. "I'm proud of Cody for hanging in there."

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly completed only six of 18 pass attempts in the second and third quarters as the Sun Devils offense sputtered. He finished 22-for-41 for 153 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran 80 yards on 10 carries.

The Sun Devils have flirted with a sixth win and bowl eligibility for three weeks straight and go to USC next week.

"There's not much to say other than we got our butts whooped," Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. "Their defense is the real deal."

Arizona State was forced to punt nine times and had another drive end in a missed field goal.

"(OSU's) interior D-line and front seven were doing a great job of making stunts and twists," Kelly said. "They did a great job scheming us."

Oregon State spent the first half trying to claw its way back from a horrendous opening series. On the third play of the game, Vaz was hit near his own goal line and fumbled the ball into the end zone where Arizona State's Junior Onyeali recovered it for a touchdown.

Vaz overcame his early struggles to help bring Oregon State back to a 19-19 tie at halftime.

Arizona State was strong early, however, going up 14-3 after a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Cameron Marshall's 1-yard run with 8:44 left in the third quarter.

The Beavers immediately responded, scoring when Vaz connected with Wheaton on a 50-yard touchdown pass at 7:51.

Vaz narrowly averted disaster again near his own goal line when he was sacked at his own 1-yard line. The Beavers tried to punt out of their end zone but Kevin Ayers blocked the punt backward and out of bounds for a safety that put the Sun Devils up 16-10.

Arizona State's Jon Mora kicked a 31-yard field goal to put the team up 19-10 with 12:56 left in the half.

The Beavers controlled the action after that, getting a 53-yard touchdown run from Terron Ward and then a 45-yard Trevor Romaine field goal on the last play of the half.

NOTES: Will Sutton, Arizona State's star defensive tackle, returned to action for the first time since Oct. 18 and made an immediate impact on the Sun Devils' defensive line. ... Meanwhile, Oregon State was playing without injured defensive back Jordan Poyer, the Pac-12 leader in interceptions, and Storm Woods, the team's leading rusher. ... ... Oregon State was attempting to rebound from a disappointing first loss of the season at Washington last week and remain in the conference title hunt. ... With the early touchdown on the third play of the game, Arizona State has scored first in eight of nine games this season.
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