The Oregon State Beavers savored their victory against Washington for a while before turning their attention to No. 9 Oregon and the Civil War.
While it may prove to be their last hurrah, this past Saturday was a special day for this season's Beavers, who clicked on offense, hung tough on defense and sent Washington home with a 38-21 upset loss.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Mannion had probably the best game of his young career, throwing for 339 yards and two touchdowns.
The Beavers beat their recent red-zone blues, scoring on six of seven chances. Tailback Jovan Stevenson punched in three touchdowns. The defensive line chased around Husky freshman
quarterback Nick Montana and eventually chased him from the game after a costly fumble.
When sophomore QB Keith Price came in despite nursing a knee injury, he led Washington to a quick score and was poised for another when Oregon State's Ryan Murphy came up with a big
Finally, down-but-not-out Oregon State (3-8, 3-5 Pac-12) sent off 17 seniors in style in their final home game, including wide receiver James Rodgers, who had four catches to become the Beavers' all-time leader in catches before leaving the game with a sprained ankle.
"It's special," said safety Lance Mitchell, another senior. "A lot of emotions going on inside. I couldn't ask for much more, being the last game at Reser, going out like this against a good
team like Washington."
It was not just another Senior Day in Corvallis. Injuries and other issues have forced the Beavers to lean heavily on freshmen this season, including Mannion and defensive end Scott Crichton. But it was Oregon State's senior leadership that kept the team
working through the tough losses.
"Without their persistence and toughness, we had no chance," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "If your seniors don't stay with it, you're done."
Oregon State has long been out of the bowl picture, but this week's Civil War does present a final chance to celebrate. With a win, the Beavers could upset rival Oregon's bid to play in the
inaugural Pac-12 title game.
The No. 9 Ducks (9-2, 7-1) were in the national title hunt until losing 38-35 to USC on Saturday. Oregon dropped to No. 10 in the BCS standings.
While the Ducks may be reeling from the loss, the odds of an upset by the Beavers remain long.
Oregon, the conference champions for the past two seasons, has dominated the Civil War in recent years with three straight wins. The game will be played in Eugene, where the Beavers haven't won since 2006.
Last year, LaMichael James ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns and fellow back Kenjon Barner ran for 133 and two more scores in a 37-20 Oregon victory in Corvallis. The Ducks went on to play Auburn in the national championship game.
"It's crucial we put this one behind us," Barner said after the loss to the Trojans. "We need to move on and put this behind us."
While they're the underdogs, the Beavers weren't ready to concede the Civil War, especially in the glow of a big win. Oregon State wasn't supposed to beat the Huskies, either.
"I feel like records go out the window when you play (rivalry games)," Rodgers said. "It's a little more intense."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)