SEATTLE — The Oregon State Beavers — what was left of them, anyway — arrived at CenturyLink Field with a roster decimated by injuries.
When the Beavers looked into the stands and saw an overwhelmingly crimson-colored crowd of 49,219 eagerly awaiting their demise at the hands of Washington State, the task at hand grew even more challenging.
The Beavers rose to the challenge. Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Mannion passed for 376 yards and four touchdowns, and true freshman running back
Malcolm Agnew ran for 103 yards and one touchdown to lead Oregon State to a convincing 44-21 triumph late Saturday night.
The Cougars trailed 24-14 at the half. They played the second half without quarterback Jeff Tuel, who was hit hard and clean by linebacker Tony Wilson immediately after throwing a pass late in the second quarter.
Washington State coach Paul Wulff said Tuel was “sore” in the area of his left shoulder, and the Cougars “don’t envision it’s serious.” Tuel missed four games with a broken left collarbone.
Tuel completed 11 of 13 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown and also ran for a score. Marshall Lobbestael went 10 of 20 for 105 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in the second half.
“I don’t know that we played a bad game,” Wulff said. “I think they played a heck of a game … the best game I’ve ever seen them play.”
The game was crucial to the bowl hopes of both teams. Oregon State improved to 2-5 overall and 2-2 in the Pacific-12 Conference. WSU, playing its “annual” home game in Seattle, fell to 3-4 and 1-3 after a third consecutive loss.
The Cougars visit ninth-ranked Oregon (6-1, 4-0) next Saturday. ROOT Sports televises the game at noon.
Mannion, who was recruited by WSU, made great passes and benefited from acrobatic catches by his receivers all night.
“He played a hell of a game,” Wulff said.
Mannion finished 26 of 34 with one interception. That occurred when WSU cornerback Damante Horton ripped the ball out of the hands of Markus Wheaton in the end zone in the first quarter.
Agnew, playing in just his third game due to hamstring problems, ran hard and well behind an offensive line that dominated WSU’s defensive line.
The Beavers finished with a 551-315 advantage in total yards. Oregon State gained early momentum by stopping WSU on fourth-and-1 on the game’s opening drive.
Mannion went deep to Wheaton on Oregon State’s first play from scrimmage and later hit Jordan Jenkins with a 31-yard screen pass for the first score.