CORVALLIS, Ore. — Jermar Jefferson supplied the fast start and the Oregon State defense came up with a big stop.
Hamilcar Rashed deflected Chase Garber’s pass into the air and John McCartan came down with the game-sealing interception as Oregon State held on for a 31-27 win over California on Saturday at Reser Stadium.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. “That was a hard-fought game, lots of back and forth swings. Our first couple of games have come down to the fourth quarter, so I’m really happy for these guys. They competed for four quarters.”
After sluggish starts in OSU’s first two games, Jefferson gave the Beavers a jolt by bursting 75 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
Jefferson said quarterback Tristan Gebbia audibled to a different running play before handing him the ball.
“When he changed the play, I knew it was going to be open,” Jefferson said. “So when he said hike, I knew I was seeing daylight.”
After that play, Cal dominated the stat sheet, outgaining the Beavers 317-164 in total yards by halftime. But Smith was happy his team was only down 20-14.
“It’s trying to survive,” Smith said. “We didn’t play our best football, but we were still down by six. You’re just trying to keep it close.”
Oregon State opened the second half with a long drive for a field goal. Then OSU took a 24-20 lead when Trevon Bradford’s 30-yard punt return set up an 8-yard touchdown catch by Gebbia, which was thrown by receiver Tyjon Lindsey on an end around.
“Tyjon and I went to (Nebraska) together,” Gebbia said. “We were roommates as freshmen. After that play, I told him ‘Who would have thought our first (TD) connection would have been you throwing to me.’ ”
With his 35-yard TD pass to Teagan Quitoriano in the first quarter and his 1-yard run TD run in the fourth, Gebbia became the 11th Pac-12 quarterback since 1996 to have a TD run, pass and reception in the same game.
But Gebbia’s second interception of the game set up Cal to take a 27-24 lead with 8:04 left in the game on Jake Tongue’s 2-yard TD reception.
With 5:20 left, Jesiah Irish broke through to block a Cal punt, giving Oregon State the ball on the Bears’ 13.
“Jesiah is listed as a receiver but he might be our best special teams player,” Smith said. “It’s not like we called an all-out block. He just believed he had a chance and made the play of the game.”
Gebbia’s touchdown run put OSU up 31-27 with 4:30 to go.
Cal then methodically moved the ball downfield, helped a couple of times by penalties by the Beavers. The last penalty — on fourth-and-5 at the OSU 20 — gave Cal a first-and-goal at the 10.
That’s when Rashed, coming on a pass run, leaped and blocked Garber’s pass up into the air.
“I was just praying to God that somebody was going to come down with it,” Gebbia said.
McCartan did at the OSU 9. From there, Jefferson broke off a 65-yard run to seal the win.
Jefferson finished with 196 yards rushing, with 140 coming on his first and last carries of the day.
“We didn’t play perfect football,” Smith said. “We have a bunch to clean up on both sides of the football. … But we won the game in the fourth quarter.”
Oregon St. 31, California 27
OSU—Jefferson 75 run (E.Hayes kick), 14:42.
CAL—Polk 7 pass from Garbers (Longhetto kick), 10:30.
OSU—Quitoriano 35 pass from Gebbia (E.Hayes kick), 5:47.
CAL—FG Longhetto 26, 14:49.
CAL—Crawford 21 pass from Garbers (Longhetto kick), 2:31.
CAL—FG Longhetto 52, :00.
OSU–FG E.Hayes 35, 6:20.
OSU—Gebbia 8 pass from Lindsey (E.Hayes kick), 13:35.
CAL—Tonges 2 pass from Garbers (Longhetto kick), 8:04.
OSU—Gebbia 1 run (E.Hayes kick), 4:30.
|Time of Possession||38:06||21:54|
RUSHING—California, Dancy 17-76, D.Moore 12-33, Garbers 5-11, Remigio 1-3, Shaw 3-1. Oregon St., Jefferson 18-196, Baylor 4-7, Lindsey 1-5, Colletto 1-4, Gebbia 4-(minus 3), (Team) 2-(minus 4).
PASSING—California, Garbers 28-42-2-315. Oregon St., Lindsey 1-1-0-8, Gebbia 12-20-2-147.
RECEIVING—California, Crawford 10-141, Tonges 9-55, Polk 4-81, Dancy 3-29, M.Young 1-8, Schlegel 1-1. Oregon St., Quitoriano 4-65, Bradford 3-31, Beason 2-20, Flemings 1-15, Musgrave 1-12, Gebbia 1-8, Taylor 1-4.