Beavers fall 35-20 to Sun Devils

BY foxsports • October 2, 2011

Oregon State had Arizona State on the ropes early, and rallied when the Sun Devils tried to pull away.

The Beavers just couldn't finish off, again, prolonging their worst start since 1996.

Sean Mannion set school records for attempts and completions by going 40 for 66 for 341 yards and a touchdown, but threw four interceptions in winless Oregon State's 35-20 loss to Arizona State on Saturday night.

''I have to take better care of the ball,'' Mannion said. ''Just have to see the progressions a little more clearly and faster and safe with the football.''

It wasn't just on the redshirt freshman quarterback's shoulders.

The Beavers (0-4, 0-2 Pac-12) had the Sun Devils reeling early and couldn't put them away, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. Oregon State pulled within one on James Rodgers' 5-yard touchdown reception and couldn't tackle Cameron Marshall on a pair of late touchdown runs.

The Beavers had key miscues on special teams, too, including a muffed punt by Jordan Poyer, and Jamal Miles' 78-yard punt return for a touchdown that put Arizona State up eight at halftime.

Oregon State was close, just not close enough.

''Anytime you feel like you should really win the game and it comes down to a few plays, it's tough,'' said Poyer, who had two interceptions. ''There really aren't any words that you can pretty up.''

It was ugly for Arizona State, too.

Coming off a resounding win over nemesis Southern California - the Trojans had beaten them the 11 previous games - the Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0) were out of sorts against Oregon State, turning it over on their first three possessions to fall into a 13-0 hole.

Unlike two weeks before, when Arizona State fell flat against unranked Illinois on the heels of a win over then-No. 21 Missouri, the Sun Devils fought their way back.

Brock Osweiler overcame a miserable start - two interceptions and a fumble in the first three possessions - to throw both of his touchdown passes in the first half.

Miles followed with Arizona State's first punt return for a touchdown since 2005 on his way to 249 total yards. Marshall closed it out, spoiling any hope of the Beavers making a comeback by bulling through a team's worth of tacklers on touchdown runs of 37 and 8 yards after Oregon State pulled within one.

Fighting off a winless team with road games Utah and Oregon coming up next, yes, the Sun Devils are feeling relieved.

''We've shown that we can play with the best of them this season, but sometimes in football games there's difficult times, and tonight this football team showed a lot of character to play through that,'' said Osweiler, who finished 24 for 37 for 258 yards while accounting for all of Arizona State's turnovers. ''Obviously, we can't win if we keep doing that.''

Arizona State was hoping to avoid another letdown after dropping out of the rankings following the loss to Missouri.

Back in the polls after the win over USC, the Sun Devils again looked flat against an 18-point underdog.

Osweiler was picked off by Poyer on the Sun Devils' first drive, then lost a fumble scrambling from pressure on the second. Arizona State's defense did its best to make up for the two miscues, holding Oregon State to field goals of 34 and 21 yards by Trevor Romaine.

The Sun Devils couldn't stop Oregon State after Poyer came up with his second pick; Terron Ward put the Beavers up 13-0 by breaking three tackles on his way to a 10-yard touchdown run.

Arizona State finally found some life early in the second quarter, with Osweiler hitting A.J. Pickens for his first career TD, a 17-yarder on a crossing route that cut Oregon State's lead to 13-7.

Osweiler then hit Gerell Robinson on a 24-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter on a drive that started with Poyer's muffed punt and included a fumble by Marshall that was overturned by video review.

Miles followed with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown, juking two defenders at the point of contact before bursting up the middle to put Arizona State up 21-13 at halftime.

''At the half, I was frustrated because it didn't have to be like that,'' Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. ''We had given them some stuff in that first half that got them not only back in it, but the lead. I just wanted the team to know that what Arizona State had gotten was kind of a gift from us.''

Seemingly in control, the Sun Devils still weren't done with the mistakes.

Osweiler opened the second half by throwing into triple coverage and Oregon State's Anthony Watkins snatched it, returning the interception 40 yards to the 11. Mannion threw on the run to hit Rodgers on a 5-yard touchdown pass two plays later, pulling Oregon State to 21-20.

That was it for the Beavers, though.

Marshall answered with a did-he-just-do-that touchdown, bouncing off and dragging at least five tacklers on the way to a 37-yard score. He capped it off by bulling through Oregon State's defense again on the next drive, scoring from 8 yards out to make it 35-20 and send the Sun Devils to a tougher-than-expected win.

''It felt good,'' said Marshall, who had 80 yards on 14 carries. ''I just kept moving my feet and kept getting guys to bounce off me until I got into the end zone.''

It's a good thing for the Sun Devils that he did.

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