Beavers blast Broncos, secure winning record
HONOLULU -- An explosion of offensive and defensive touchdowns allowed Oregon State to put a positive postscript on a season that took a wrong turn.
The Beavers ended their five-game losing streak and clinched a winning season by blitzing Boise State 38-23 in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Tuesday.
Oregon State took a 38-6 lead in the third quarter before the Broncos tightened the final margin.
With the win, Oregon State finished the year 7-6, a disappointment considering the team got off to a 6-1 start. Even so, the bowl victory was a feel-good finale.
"It's been a while since we've won, but this team never quit," Beavers coach Mike Riley said. "We've had plenty of disappointment, quite a bit of adversity through the year. ... In the end, we came together, played a good football team, played a good game, won it."
Boise State (8-5) finished with its worst record since 1998. Following the regular season, Broncos coach Chris Petersen left to become the coach at Washington. Bob Gregory served as Boise State's interim coach for the bowl game.
The Broncos saw multiple streaks end with the loss to the Beavers: Boise State won each of its previous four bowl games, defeated a Pac-12 team for five consecutive seasons and finished in the Top 25 in five straight years.
"We went 8-5 this year, and we're not used to that," said Boise State junior wide receiver Matt Miller, who caught 11 passes for 206 yards. "This program expects perfection, and we're striving for that every day."
Boise State moved the ball well much of the game but was unable to finish drives. The Broncos also made two huge mistakes, fumbles that the Beavers senior cornerback Rashaad Reynolds returned for touchdowns.
Oregon State, which was pass-happy all year until the regular-season finale against Oregon, used a balanced attack. Quarterback Sean Mannion was efficient, and star wide receiver Brandin Cooks made some plays, but 195 rushing yards allowed the Beavers to keep the chains moving.
The Beavers also scored two touchdowns on the ground, including a 5-yard run by tailback Storm Woods early in the third quarter that gave Oregon State a 32-point lead.
Mannion finished 24-for-33 for 259 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception. Woods gained 107 yards on 16 carries.
Boise State junior quarterback Grant Hedrick completed 32 of 44 passes for 382 yards with one touchdown pass and no interceptions. Broncos sophomore running back Jay Ajayi produced 97 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.
Oregon State led 31-6 at halftime, the largest first-half deficit for the Broncos since they trailed 42-0 in a 1998 game at Louisiana Tech.
Reynolds provided the two biggest first-half plays for the Beavers, scoring on fumble returns of 3 and 70 yards.
"I was Johnny on the spot," Reynolds said.
On the first one, the Broncos were pinned on their own 6-yard line after a couple of ugly plays. Hedrick dropped back into his own end zone and was pressured by two Beavers. Defensive end Scott Crichton forced the fumble, and Reynolds easily scooped the ball for a 17-3 lead in the first quarter.
The Broncos pulled within 17-6, made a fourth-and-1 stop and were driving midway through the second quarter when Reynolds struck again.
Hedrick completed a pass to wide receiver Troy Ware, who lunged forward to try to secure a first down.
Instead, cornerback Larry Scott knocked out the ball. Reynolds grabbed it along the sideline and dashed 70 yards untouched for a 24-6 advantage.
"You just can't overcome those," Gregory said of Oregon State's two defensive touchdowns. "I don't think our guys gave up. I think they played their fannies off for four quarters. We did not make the plays that we should have made."
The Beavers' offense also was productive. Oregon State went 64 yards for a field goal on its first drive and 75 yards for a touchdown on its second. The Beavers added an 81-yard touchdown drive late in the first half, capped by Terron Ward's 9-yard run. Ward ran over safety Jeremy Ioane at the 2-yard line.
NOTES: Boise State WR Shane Williams-Rhodes (ankle) and S Taylor Loffler (hernia) did not play. Broncos QB Joe Southwick and TB Derrick Thomas were suspended. ... Boise State borrowed a local horse named Super for the game. ... Broncos WR Matt Miller tied the school record in the first half with his 82nd catch of the season. ... Oregon State QB Sean Mannion broke the Pac-12's single-season record for passing yards during the first half. He began the game with 4,403 yards through the air. ... Broncos S Jeremy Ioane, who is from Honolulu, give out 144 tickets for the game.