Beavers turn Boise State fumbles into TDs to win Hawaii Bowl
Rashaad Reynolds and the Oregon State Beavers made the most of their final chance to stop a costly losing streak.
Reynolds returned two fumbles for touchdowns, helping the Beavers beat Boise State 38-23 in the Hawaii Bowl on Tuesday night.
Oregon State won six of its first seven games of the season. Then a 20-12 home loss to then-No. 8 Stanford started a five-game slide that came to an end when the Beavers (7-6) set several records in handing Boise State its worst loss in two months.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley said stopping the skid was the biggest deal for his team.
”They’ve worked hard, they haven’t lost their focus even though there’s been some discouragement, they didn’t let it stay with them,” Riley said. ”I loved how they’ve responded all year.”
Biletnikoff Award-winner Brandin Cooks grabbed eight balls for 60 yards and a touchdown. He extended his Pac-12 single-season record to 128 receptions and broke the conference record for yards receiving with 1,730, passing Southern California’s Marqise Lee.
Sean Mannion threw for 259 yards and a touchdown, giving him a Pac-12-record 4,662 yards passing for the season.
”When you win, you’d like to say it’s a good ending — a good beginning for the upcoming year,” Riley said.
Oregon State kept Boise State (8-5) out of the end zone until the third quarter, well after the Beavers had opened a big lead.
Reynolds had his first fumble recovery about 12 minutes into the game when Scott Crichton stripped Boise State quarterback Grant Hedricks in the end zone. The ball popped forward to the 3-yard line, where Reynolds picked it up and ran it in.
Reynolds tacked on another fumble return in the second quarter on his way to game MVP honors. Troy Ware caught a 6-yard pass near the sideline for Boise State, but Larry Scott punched the ball out as Ware was falling to the ground. Reynolds picked it up and ran 70 yards to the end zone.
”You just can’t overcome those. It’s very difficult to overcome those versus a Pac-12 team,” Boise State interim coach Bob Gregory said. ”That’s tough when we’re not on the field on defense, but we didn’t make enough plays on defense either.”
Matt Miller led Boise State with 11 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown, with most of the production coming after the game was decided. Miller, who set a school record with 88 catches this season, was the Broncos’ MVP for the game.
Boise State’s most successful drive came in the third quarter after Oregon State went 94 yards and scored a touchdown to make it 38-6. The Broncos responded with a nine-play, 76-yard drive spent partially in a hurry-up offense. Jay Ajayi took a shotgun handoff from Hedrick and ran up the middle for a 1-yard TD.
After the successful extra-point attempt went into the stands, the mostly-empty stadium provided its loudest ovation of the night in support of the fans who tried to keep the ball away from security by throwing it around the seats.
Oregon State finished with 454 total yards, averaging 6.8 per play. Storm Woods had 16 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown, and Terron Ward had a 9-yard TD run.
”That’s exactly how we would like to look, we want to have that balance,” Riley said. ”We just frankly blocked better.”
Hedrick threw for 382 yards and a touchdown, closing out a difficult stretch for the Broncos (8-5).
Joe Southwick was sent home by Gregory after the quarterback was accused of urinating off a hotel balcony in Honolulu last week, though he later told a TV station he didn’t do it and was unfairly dismissed.
It was Gregory’s first major issue after taking over for Chris Petersen, who left the team to take over at Washington.
”I mean there were a lot of distractions for us, but we’ve got a bunch of resilient guys,” Miller said. ”It was looking like we were going to come out and play well and that just didn’t happen there.”
Gregory said he didn’t think the distractions affected his team.
”There wasn’t a loss of focus,” he said. ”I think we had really good bowl practices, I think we had good practices when we were here and again we just didn’t make as many plays as we had to make to make a difference in the game.”
Both teams started the game with similar drives, making progress on big plays before stalling in the red zone and kicking field goals. But Oregon State grabbed the lead for good on Cooks’ 2-yard TD reception with 4:15 left in the first quarter, capping a 92-yard drive.