CORVALLIS, Ore. — Talk about an Oregon (State) trail.
Saturday's 21-7 loss to the eighth-ranked Beavers at Reser Stadium put the Utah Utes in both familiar and foreign territory.
The setback assured Utah of its second consecutive 0-4 start in Pac-12 play. It also put the Utes in a hole they've never been in during Kyle Whittingham's eight-year tenure as head coach — a 2-5 record to open a season.
It's a start the program hasn't experienced since 2002 when Ron McBride was at the helm. That team went 2-6, a mark Utah will try to avoid when it hosts California next Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Utes' latest setback came courtesy of turnovers. Two fumbles and a pair of interceptions proved costly and prevented them from denying Oregon State its first 6-0 start to a season since 1907.
The miscues proved pivotal in Travis Wilson's second career start at quarterback for Utah. The true freshman completed 15-of-28 passes for 172 yards. His final two drives ended with a fourth-down sack (by Oregon State linebacker D.J. Alexander) in the red zone and an interception.
Although the Utes never led, they were within striking distance throughout the contest. The Beavers, though, effectively sealed the deal on a 2-yard touchdown run by Storm Woods with 7:41 left to play. Trevor Romaine followed with the PAT to cap all scoring in the contest.
Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz completed 16-of-26 passes for 174 yards. Markus Wheaton finished with a game-high seven receptions.
Utah's defense got off to a strong start. The Utes forced Oregon State to punt on its first three possessions. After the initial stop, Utah's offense moved into scoring position. However, a 43-yard field goal attempt by Coleman Petersen was wide left.
It proved to be a sign of bad things to come for the Utes. They fell into a 14-0 hole in a span of 1:30 over the first and second quarters. Both of the Oregon State touchdowns were setup by Wilson miscues on third down.
The first was an interception on a pass intended for DeVonte Christopher. Oregon State linebacker Michael Doctor picked off the overthrow and returned it 19 yards to the Utah 16. Three plays later, Woods scored on a 1-yard run.
Woods added a 2-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, capping a two-play, 10-yard drive made possible by another Oregon State takeaway — this time a fumble. Wilson lost the ball while getting sacked by Rudolf Fifita and Dylan Wynn recovered it for the Beavers.
Trailing 14-0, Wilson and the Utes eventually got on track and responded. Wilson was 6-for-6 on a 10-play, 88-yard scoring march that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Murphy.
Oregon State led 14-7 at halftime despite having 77 fewer yards than Utah and no success (0-for-5) in third-down situations. The Utes had 175 yards of total offense at the break.
Utah added to the tally once the second half got under way. The Utes took more than six minutes off the clock with a double-digit drive that led them to the Oregon State 3-yard line.
Then came another turnover — ending a golden opportunity to knot the score. A fumbled pitch to Christopher was recovered by defensive end Scott Crichton, giving the Beavers possession on the 10.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company