PROVO — It sure seemed like BYU had a golden opportunity to spring a rare upset against an unbeaten, Top 10 team — on its first-ever Homecoming Blackout — Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
But the black-clad Cougars squandered that opportunity.
No. 10 Oregon State (5-0) came into the game with a backup quarterback, junior Cody Vaz, making his first career start — and was facing the Cougars' highly rated defense.
But Vaz played like a seasoned veteran, completing 20-of-32 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns to guide the Beavers to a 42-24 triumph.
Vaz spoiled homecoming, and spoiled the Cougars' shot at knocking off a ranked opponent.
The Beavers broke open a game that was tied, 21-21, at the end of three quarters by outscoring BYU, 21-3, in the fourth period.
While the black attire worn by most of the 63,489 in attendance matched their somber mood after the game, Beaver coach Mike Riley continued his tradition of taking his team to a dining establishment, In-N-Out, just up the road from Edwards Stadium, for burgers and to celebrate another big road victory.
"I don't think anybody in our locker room was particularly surprised Cody played well," said Riley. "I think they've had faith in him as a teammate for a long time. I knew this was going to be a hard venue to step into, but I thought guys helped him out and made plays."
OSU's two star wide receivers came up big, as Brandin Cooks caught eight passes for 173 yards and Markus Wheaton hauled in five passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
"Oregon State's ability to throw it over the top of us, big pass plays, I thought was the difference in the game," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "They were able to execute on a lot of critical situations — just giant chunks."
"They just played better than us today," said cornerback Preston Hadley. "They were able to spread us out and get easy throws for their quarterback. Our coverage didn't hold."
BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley said the Cougars' inability to put pressure on Vaz "took a pretty big toll on the defense. They did a great job of protecting their guy back there. We weren't able to get enough pressure on him, and we gave him too much time to make throws."
In the decisive fourth quarter, OSU scored two of its three touchdowns thanks to tipped passes.
"It was one of those days where not many bounces went our way," said Mendenhall.
On third-and-5 from the BYU 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Vaz's pass was batted up in the air by linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The ball somehow ended up in the arms of tight end Colby Prince, who was surrounded by three Cougar defenders in the end zone, for a touchdown. That gave the Beavers a 28-21 lead that they would not relinquish.
"It didn't go our way," said BYU quarterback Riley Nelson, who made his first start in nearly three weeks. "If you could sum up this game, it was Kyle jumping up in the air, batting the ball, and that guy catching it in the middle of three of our guys. That's what I felt like happened today. A lot went their way, not a lot went our way. That's the game of football."
"The ball does weird things sometimes and that was one of them," said Spencer Hadley. "Their guy made a play and sometimes it just doesn't bounce your way. On that play, it didn't bounce our way."
Then, despite having a first-and-goal from the OSU 10-yard line, the Cougars couldn't cash in. "We had three shots at the end zone and we didn't put it in," Nelson said. "Two missed throws by me."
The Cougars settled for a 35-yard field goal by Justin Sorensen, cutting the deficit to 35-24.
But OSU scored again on double-reverse by Wheaton for a touchdown with 5:30 remaining in the game.
"We were trying to match score-for-score," Mendenhall said, "and started not to."
On the Cougars' next series, Nelson threw a low pass in the flat to Ross Apo, who reached down and tipped the ball right into the hands of OSU safety Jordan Poyer, who sprinted 49 yards for a touchdown, officially slamming the door on the Cougars.
Oregon State set the tone from its opening drive, as Vaz drove the Beavers 75 yards in six plays, capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Wheaton. That score snapped BYU's streak of 13 quarters without surrendering a touchdown..
The Cougars answered with Nelson engineering a 75-yard drive that ended with a one-yard TD run by Jamaal Williams to tie the score, 7-7.
After the two teams traded punts, the Beavers struck again with 3:01 remaining in the first quarter when Vaz connected on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Wheaton.
"Even when we were dropping eight (defendeers), they were completing passes," Mendenhall said.
The Cougars missed another scoring chance when they marched to the OSU 24 before Nelson floated a pass up for grabs that was intercepted.
A pair of penalties on OSU punting plays helped BYU tie the game. An illegal shift nullified a punt that would have given the Cougars the ball at their own 30. On the second punt, JD Falslev danced his way for 27 yards, while Malcolm Agnew was whistled for a 15-yard penalty for participating after his helmet had come off.
Suddenly, BYU had the ball at Oregon State's 30-yard line. It took 12 plays and more than four minutes, but the Cougars knotted the game at 14 when Riley found Devin Mahina on fourth-and-2 at the Beavers' 2-yard line. On that drive, BYU converted three times on fourth down.
BYU was even with OSU at halftime and held its own after three quarters. But the Beavers took control in the final quarter.
The Cougars travel to unbeaten, top-10 ranked Notre Dame next Saturday (1:30 p.m. MT, NBC).
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