PULLMAN — Back and forth it went Saturday night in Martin Stadium, at least through three quarters.
Or, more accurately, until the final minute of the third quarter.
That’s when Oregon State, helped by two huge Washington State mistakes, began to put the game away.
The Beavers scored three times in 2 minutes, 16 seconds to rally for a 52-24 Pac-12 Conference win before a Dad’s Weekend-sellout crowd of 31,955.
The scoring burst helped the Beavers raise their record to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in Pac-12 play. WSU fell to 4-3, 2-2.
Oregon State had tied the score at 24 – the game’s fourth tie – with 1:03 to play in the third quarter on Sean Mannion’s 7-yard pass to Kevin Cummings.
The touchdown, one of Mannion’s 34 completions in 51 attempts for 493 yards, opened the flood gates. With a big assist from the Cougars.
WSU, which lost to Oregon State for the sixth time in seven years, had 325 yards of total offense to that point. But the Cougars failed to move the ball and, facing a fourth-and-4, set up to punt at its own 34.
The Cougars had already converted two big fourth-down attempts, although those had come with the offense on the field.
It appeared as if the Cougars were going to fake a punt and Alex Den Bleyker’s long snap went right and caromed off the left arm of protector Jared Byers. The Beavers recovered 27 yards from the Cougars’ end zone.
The miscue seemed to deflate Washington State.
Two plays later Brandin Cooks, the OSU star wide receiver, went around left end with an 8-yard fly sweep, giving OSU a 31-24 lead 5 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Cooks finished with a team-high 34 yards rushing and added 137 yards receiving on a game-high 11 catches.
After Cooks’ scoring run, Connor Halliday began throwing the ball to the Beavers. Three of his next four pass attempts were intercepted by OSU, the first two by cornerback Rashaad Reynolds, burned on long passes earlier.
The Beavers turned the first pick into seven points on Storm Woods’ 1-yard run. In a little more than 2 minutes, OSU had turned a 7-point deficit into a 14-point lead. And the Beavers weren’t done.
The next Halliday pick led to a Mannion-to-Cooks 8-yard scoring pass. The scoring binge had reached 28 points. It ballooned to 35 when Mannion hit Cooks again, this time from 30 yards out. It was Mannion’s fourth touchdown pass of the game and his 25th of the season.
By then Halliday’s night was done. He was replaced by Austin Apodaca after completing 26 of 49 pass attempts for 248 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. The Cougars finished with six turnovers, five consecutive to end the game.
Halliday started hot, completing his first six passes, including a 21-yard strike to Dom Williams. But the Cougars’ game-opening drive, which started on their 25, died after they got a first down at the OSU 9.
Chased from the pocket, Halliday ran out of bounds for a loss. His next two passes, also under pressure, fell incomplete. WSU settled for an Andrew Furney 27-yard field goal.
It took the Beavers a couple of possessions to tie the game. And, as usual, it was Mannion’s arm that supplied the offense. Why not? The 6-foot-5 junior quarterback threw for 646 yards in his previous two starts against Washington State.
OSU covered 82 yards in a 13-play drive that took almost 6 minutes. Eighty of the 82 came through the air, with Mannion teaming with Woods for a 24-yard gain and with Richard Mullaney for a 22-yard strike over the middle.
But, like the Cougars, the Beavers stalled inside the 10. They got all the way to the WSU 3 but had to settle for a Trevor Romaine 20-yard field goal just before the end of the first quarter.