CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Jordan Poyer grew up in the far-west outpost of Astoria, Ore., and had to wait long into his senior year of high school before Oregon State finally offered him a scholarship.
However, the senior defensive back has become a top NFL prospect, and his three interceptions Saturday, plus another strong Oregon State defensive effort, drove the 14th-ranked Beavers to their first 4-0 start since 2002.
Poyer came up big when his team needed him late, grabbing a Jeff Tuel pass and returning it 50 yards with 3:18 left in the game, and Oregon State closed out Washington State with a 19-6 victory.
"I was just seeing the field really well. There were plays to be made, and I made them," said Poyer, who has four interceptions on the season.
A Reser Stadium-record crowd of 46,579 turned out to see a team that has gained national attention after victories over three teams that have been ranked in the Top 25 -- Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona.
The crowd did not get the offensive fireworks it may have hoped for, but it saw the Oregon State defense hold the Cougars to a pair of field goals.
Poyer, a native Oregonian, had many reasons to be motivated Saturday. The entire varsity football team from Astoria High School, where Poyer starred, made the trip after playing Friday night on the Oregon coast.
"I woke up this morning (excited). It's something you feel," he said. "Every game is like that, especially playing at Reser in front of a sold-out crowd. A lot of people from my town were here to support me."
Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton finished with three sacks and four tackles for loss. He said there was hope that the Beavers would deliver a "statement" Saturday, but that sort of result eluded the team.
"We haven't put a whole game together yet. Every time it's either the offense or defense (that carries) the team," Crichton said.
The Beavers (4-0, 3-0 Pac-12) used a 12-play, 86-yard drive in the fourth quarter to finally put away Washington State. Fullback Tyler Anderson scored on a 1-yard dive after a Sean Mannion screen pass to Markus Wheaton set up the final touchdown with 4:27 left, making it 19-6.
Poyer's long interception return sealed the result.
The game was marred by turnovers and penalties. There were seven interceptions, including a total of four by Oregon State against Cougars quarterbacks Connor Halliday and Tuel.
Mannion also threw three interceptions, including one that he put right into the hands of 305-pound defensive lineman Ioane Gauta, who rumbled 38 yards with it.
"I'm happy with the win, but obviously I've still got a lot to learn," Mannion said.
Oregon State squandered several first-half scoring chances and went into halftime holding a 6-3 lead. Washington State turned the ball over three times in the half, Oregon State twice.
The Beavers scored the game's first touchdown when Mannion connected with Wheaton in the end zone from 12 yards out with 9:17 to go in the third quarter. That capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and Wheaton, who both average 134 receiving yards per game, both fell short of that but still had productive games. Wheaton caught nine balls for 95 yards, and Cooks caught five for 82.
Washington State (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12) started Halliday at quarterback, but after he was picked off three times, Tuel played almost the entire second half. Halliday finished 9-for-20 with 81 yards, and Tuel was 11-for-17 for 126 yards.
"The defenses for both teams played better than the offenses," Washington State coach Mike Leach said. "Oregon State's defense was more physical than our offense. Their defense got our offense out of timing on a lot of plays."
Mannion, despite being sacked three times and throwing three interceptions, completed 25 of 42 passes for 270 yards.
NOTES: The Oregon State-Washington State series is a Northwest rivalry that dates to 1903. The Cougars have a slim lead at 48-46-3. ... The Beavers have allowed only one touchdown in two home games this season (Wisconsin and Washington State). ... Oregon State held a decisive advantage in time of possession, 39:15 to 20:45. ... The Beavers defense held Washington State to 20 net rushing yards.