Two of the PAC-12’s best offenses in the Oregon State Beavers and Washington State Cougars battled Pullman, Wash. at Martin Stadium. Both teams sat at a 5-5 season record before kickoff, each looking a chance for bowl eligibility at stake Saturday night.
The Beavers came back from a 10-point deficit with three consecutive touchdowns. They extended their lead to 53-42 with 4:17 left in the fourth quarter after sophomore running back Jermar Jefferson found the end zone for his second time of the night.
Washington State head coach Mike Leach and his air raid offense spread the field on their final two drives with redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Gordon. Gordon led a 7 play, 75 yard touchdown drive, cutting the Beavers lead to 53-48. The Cougars would miss their two-point conversion attempt, also failing to recover an ensuing onside kick to regain possession with 2:10 remaining.
The Beavers would only gain six yards in four plays on their next drive, with redshirt senior Jake Luton’s attempted pass sailing over senior tight end Noah Togai. Washington State regained possession of the football with good field position and 1:10 remaining.
Cougar sophomore running back Max Borghi ran the ball into the endzone with two seconds left for a two-yard touchdown finishing off the Beavers in dramatic fashion and a score of 54-53.
Washington State chose to kneel instead of kicking for an extra point or attempting a two-point conversion. The Beavers attempted a hook and ladder game-saving play following the Cougars kickoff that ended after a few pitches the receiving team had to keep the ball alive.
The game had history on its side as Cougar quarterback Anthony Gordon set two conference records: the PAC-12 single-season record for TD passes with 45 and the PAC-12 single-season record for passing yards with 4,397 and counting.
“It was pretty awesome,” Gordon said when interviewed after his historic performance throwing for over 600 yards and 6 touchdowns. His success led Washington State to a school record and the program to its fifth consecutive bowl.
Oregon State opened the first quarter with a fast pace by forcing two turnovers and scoring once. The Beavers defense forced four turnovers in total, including interceptions by sophomore outside linebacker John McCartan, sophomore defensive back Nahshon Wright and freshman inside linebacker Omar Speights.
The Beavers also recorded their first successful onside fumble recovery of the year with credit to defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar and special teams coordinator Jake Cookus.
“It was a fabulous football game with the back and forth,” Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith said. “We got ourselves down by 11, responded with a couple of quick scores to take the lead and it goes back-and-forth. Our guys played their hearts out, they really did, but we were just one play short.”
OSU redshirt senior quarterback Jake Luton finished the game with 5 touchdowns on 408 passing yards and an interception.
“I don’t have any words for it,” Luton said.
The Beavers came up short, losing their third game of the season by three or fewer points, but still remain in second place in the PAC-12 north at 4-4, only behind in state rival, Oregon.
The Beavers have a chance at redemption next week as they play the 9-2 Oregon Ducks in their Civil War rivalry for the 123rd time. Oregon State has lost the previous two matchups by heavy margins. The Oregon Ducks lost to Arizona State last weekend, likely ending their chances at a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Kickoff time is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30 in Autzen Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on PAC-12 Network.