CORVALLIS — Post-game press conferences have been glum affairs for Oregon State this season, so excuse the Beavers if they were feeling giddy Saturday.
“It’s easy to smile after this one,” Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion said after the Beavers emerged from a satisfying 38-21 win over Washington Saturday.
Mannion, a redshirt freshman who beat out Ryan Katz for the starting job in September, threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns and became the fifth Oregon State quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season.
Jovan Stevenson ran for three touchdowns and Markus Wheaton had seven catches for 125 yards and also ran for 66 yards for the Beavers (3-8, 3-5 Pac-12), who beat the Huskies for the seventh time in their last eight meetings.
“This team has never quit,” Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. “They have kept working. It hasn’t always looked very good, but I think that work is paying dividends.”
Chris Polk ran for 109 yards for Washington (6-5, 4-4) while Nick Montana was 11 of 21 passing for 79 yards, making his first career start for the Huskies. He was relieved in the fourth quarter by Keith Price.
Oregon State went up 24-14 with 11:14 left in the game after Mannion connected with Obum Gwachum for a 58-yard pass that set up a Stevenson touchdown. Montana fumbled on the next drive deep in Husky territory and Stevenson scored again to put the Beavers up by 17.
“It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go,” Montana said about his first start. “I wanted to play better, but it didn’t happen.”
Price relieved Montana and promptly led the Huskies on a 10-play, 58-yard touchdown drive capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Devin Aguilar to get Washington within 31-21. The Huskies appeared to be in business after Brandin Cooks fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Price was intercepted by Ryan Murphy on the first play. The Beavers went 99 yards on a time-consuming drive and Stevenson scored his third touchdown to seal the game.
“I’m frustrated for our players, coaches and fans because I know we can be better than this,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “We need to know what we can do to fix that.”
Montana, son of NFL legend Joe Montana, started in place of Price, who injured his left knee in a 40-17 loss to USC last week. Sarkisian played coy for most of the week before announcing Thursday on Twitter that Montana would start.
Oregon State receiver James Rodgers caught four passes, including a 6-yard touchdown pass, to become Oregon State’s all-time leader in receptions. However, he left the game in the second quarter with a sprained ankle.
Freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught two touchdowns in the first half for the Huskies. Mannion connected with Rodgers and Micah Hatfield for touchdown passes. Trevor Romaine made a 24-yard field goal and the Beavers took a 17-14 lead into the fourth quarter.
Now both teams look forward to rivalry week. The Huskies are bowl eligible and can clinch a winning record by beating Washington State. The Beavers have a tough test against No. 4 Oregon. There will be no bowl game for Oregon State.
“What better way to go out than by beating the Ducks?” safety Lance Mitchell said.